Javaka Steptoe is an award author/illustrator whose most recent book Radiant Child, a beautiful biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat, was this year's Caldecott recipient. Other notable titles include What's Special About Me, Mama? and Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow.
Javaka uses everyday object in his art.
"I come from a place of trying to not just create an illustration but to create an experience." Javaka remembers as a child he didn't sit and draw quietly, he made noises and felt emotions. "I don't want to draw you a map, I want you to be immersed in whatever I'm creating for you."
The materials Javaka uses to illustrate are ones that will help bring readers into the world he's creating. For kids it's amazing because they feel like the materials might be something they also have access to. The materials act as a bridge.
Javaka says that when writing you have to find an idea that sustains you throughout the project. Ideas can come from anywhere. Life is where you get your ideas from. Once Javaka has that idea, he does the research and tries to experience the idea in every way possible. "You shouldn't force a story," he says. "Let it be something that happens in a comfortable way...in a way that feels fluid." Once Javaka finishes the writing he considers what the materials should be to create the art.
Javaka makes all of his books personal to him.