Welcome to Blogging for a Cure!
Here’s where we, the Bloggers of the Kidlitosphere, are chatting about the fabulous artwork that’s showing up on snowflakes these days. Each piece of art is available to buy through Robert’s Snow, with proceeds going to cancer research. If you know anyone who has fought this disease (I surely do), then you know how important research funds are in finding new treatments and an eventual cure. It’s great art for a great cause, so bid like crazy!
Here’s Randy Cecil’s contribution to this year’s auction. This piece is entitled “Supportiveness”, and is the third in his series of penguin-themed snowflakes. Sometimes we all need to lean on each other to get through tough times!
Randy Cecil has illustrated a number of highly praised books for children, including the NYT Best Seller “And Here’s to You!” by David Elliott. His most recent book “Gator,” which he both wrote and illustrated, was released in March 2007. He lives in Houston, Texas.
Books by Randy.
I asked Randy a few questions about life, art and penguins:
Liz: So, I know that you are a Rhode Island School of Design graduate. What year did you graduate? And then what? Did you go right into illustrating?
Randy: I graduated in 1994. I was very lucky to get a paid internship as a graphic designer at Henry Holt for the summer before my senior year. It was a great experience and a great help in understanding how things work in publishing. I was a painting major so I had very little practical experience. After that summer, I went back to school and they contacted me again near the end of the school year with an illustration project — “Baby’s Breakfast.” So after graduation I moved to NY, started working on that, and also worked a lot at Holt as a freelance designer during the busy times of the year.
Randy, and also Randy by Randy.
Liz: I think on-the-job experience is the best kind of them all- and it seems to have aimed you in the right direction! Tell us a bit about your painting technique.
Randy: I like to paint with oil on paper. And I like to have the drawing pretty well resolved before start to paint. Even so, I often have to paint a picture several times to get it right. I think my record for most repaintings of a single picture is six times. Luckily it was a spot illustration.
Liz: No kidding! What’s your workspace/studio like? Do you keep regular hours when working?
Randy: I don’t really have a studio. It’s just a table — the same table I eat at. So after breakfast, I put aside the dishes and pull out the painting and drawing stuff. I start around 9:00 nearly every day.
Liz: That’s a fresh, early start compared to most illustrators I know. So, what was it like when NPR ran a feature on “And Here’s to You!” and it went on to become a NYT bestseller? Has fame changed you?
Randy: It felt very surreal and very, very fleeting, and as if it was something that had happened to someone else. But it was fantastic.
Liz: I see that fame hasn’t changed you, then! Describe how you approach writing your own books, and how it differs from illustrating another writer’s work.
Randy: I hope to always be able to do both. I like writing and doing something that feels completely like me, but I also love to collaborate, for the opposite reason — because another author might start from a place or point of view that I never would have myself.
Liz: What was the inspiration behind this year’s snowflake design?
Randy: For fun I am seeing how many variations I can get out of a theme (a few penguins, sometimes a scarf, and a title ending in “ness”). This one is the third variation. It’s kind of a fun little challenge to see how many ideas I can get across with a very limited set of things.
Here are Randy’s penguin-tastic snowflakes from previous years.
Liz: What new books do you have coming up next?
Randy: It’s another one that I wrote and illustrated called “Duck.” It comes out February or March 2008. It is sort of a companion book to Gator, which came out earlier this year.
Liz: I loved Gator, so I will look forward to checking out Duck, too! On your website it says that you feel like you’re “just getting started” on your children’s book career. Great start! So, where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? Anything you’d like to try in the future?
Randy: Thanks! My only real goal for the future is to try and always get a little bit better. That’s what keeps me happy.
I have a feeling Randy will be only getting better in the future, and creating more wonderful kid-friendly books that are enjoyable for adults, too.
You can visit his website at RandyCecil.com. Don’t forget to bid on his snowflake at the Robert’s Snow website. The auctions start on November 19th, and Randy’s will be available starting December 3rd.
Go bloghopping! Check out all the other Robert’s Snow flakemaker interviews today:
Monday, October 15