Lin: He's illustrated over 30 picture books.
Lin: He's won three, Coretta Scott King awards.
Lin: He's 6'5"
E.B.: Being a writer or illustrator of children's books is an amazing thing. A beautiful thing. But author or illustrator is just a subtitle, our real title is: Artists. And when we become artists, we become scary people, we observe, we are critical thinkers, we try to shape and change minds. That's a lot of power. If you look back in history, we're the kind of people that get destroyed first.
E.B.'s putting a big elephant in the room: what feeds our passion to write and create art is inspiration. What happens when you don't have any inspiration or ideas? What happens when that dries up? For E.B., he had two and a half years of not feeling inspired or turned on by the work he'd been doing.
E.B. starts his slide show:
Slides of his art from the 1980s when he was not not sure what to paint, so he began documenting his life. He painted children playing outside, wheelbarrows, cheesesteakeries, 19th century slave safe houses, and Philadelphia neighborhoods in flux.
He relates the very impressive story of how he got an agent and got into the children's book world followed by a brief bibliography of his early books. So many great covers and stories.
And here's the book that won him the Coretta Scott King Honor this year:
- Go into his studio every day, even if it was just to sweep the floors
- When on school visits out-of-town, always get some Thai food
- And absolutely go to a local art museum
Two of these three practices resulted in a moment where "the ceiling opened up and a pearl dropped," E.B. rediscovered his passion.
I've omitted so much great stuff, but if you have a chance to see E.B.'s exquisite paintings that he made in response to the moment above, I think you'll be as blown away by the power of his ideas and images as the conference audience was. A true artist.