Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
My greater-than–average fascination with children’s books developed when I was quite young. The inspiration for this interest was my great aunt, Opal Wheeler, a prolific writer of mid-century children’s books from her publisher, Dutton Books. She gave us a box of Dutton books every year at Christmas.
That was it, I was hooked. I wrote lots of stories and drew lots of pictures growing up and after college, moved to New York to pursue a career in children's books one way or another!
Where do you currently live and where did you grow up?
Keeping in touch with the City Mouse Country Mouse lifestyle I love, I currently divide my time between my studios in Manhattan and my hometown of Ballston Spa, New York State’s first FreeTrade town.
Do you have a favourite picture book or recall one of the first picture books you saw?
The book that comes to mind is "Pinocchio" by C.Collodi, illustrated by Tony Sarg. The Blue Fairy is so magical. We all grew up with Dr. Seuss of course!
Also, the Disney movies influenced the way I think of light and atmosphere. I think the backgrounds the animators created for those movies then and now are stuck in my head to this day, though at the time I had no idea of the influence on me.
What was your first commission as a professional illustrator?
My first commission as a professional was to illustrate a Kindegarten math book for Holt, Rinehart and Winston Publishers. I did artwork for the whole 128 page workbook. Who knew that kindergarteners had math workbooks!? Not long afterward, while working as a design assistant at Simon & Schuster, I submitted a sample to illustrate some book tie-ins for a movie in the works at Universal, E.T., the Extraterrestial. I got the job and spent the next year illustrating 12 various products to debut with the movie. Well, the movie was a hit to say the least. That is when I began working full-time as an illustrator in New York!!