We are so excited that Dan Santat is coming to HPL! We asked him if he could answer a few questions for our readers. So let's find out more about our author, Mr. Santat.
Q. What would you like our readers to know about your latest book, Are We There Yet?
A. The story is about a boy who gets so bored during a road trip that he starts going back in time within his thoughts. It’s supposed to reflect a child’s perception of time and how they perceive it. One could say that it’s an interactive book. I want the reader to have fun with the book, but more importantly, I want the reader to take time with the book and think about what and why they’re doing things. I
n one moment of the book you actually have to turn the book upside down in order to read the book. A casual observer might not understand the purpose of this, but if you think about what you’re doing you’ll realize that while the family is going back in time you are turning the pages backwards as if you were also interactively going backwards in the book.
Q. How has your background in graphic design influenced your art?
A. Graphic design is actually the biggest part of my illustration philosophy. I don’t believe in drawing better but designing smarter. Good graphic design can make or break an illustration. If something is designed poorly you can completely kill an illustration regardless of how well it’s drawn. If I could give a word of advice to any artist I would tell them to focus more on graphic design than actual drawing.
Q. What role, if any, did libraries play in your upbringing?
A. When I was a kid my parents wanted me to be a doctor, and because of that, they never let me take art classes. The librarian at my grade school knew how much I loved drawing and she gave me a copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way as a way of helping me teach myself how to draw. If it wasn’t for my public school librarian I probably would have never have never had the courage to even try to become an artist. As time went on I did research on other art books and was influenced by the works of N. C. Wyeth who illustrated classics like Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and other classics. The library was the place I went to go to be inspired.
Q. Did you ever have an imaginary friend?
A. I didn’t, which is strange to some folks who know me growing up as an only child. I usually borrowed things I saw on TV. I would ride bikes with Optimus Prime, or eat pizza with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I borrowed friends from TV.
Q. Do you have any tips or advice for burgeoning writers and illustrators?
A. Read lots of picture books. Start by imitating and then evolve by doing your own things. Repeat over and over and stay positive.
We want to think Dan for our Q&A blogpost and we hope you all can join us this Saturday, May 14 for the Books Alive! 7th Annual Children's Book Celebration.