Illustrator Spotlight: Kenard Pak





© Kenard Pak
Nov. 15, 2019

Today we're excited to feature illustrator Kenard Pak and his two new books, THE 100 YEAR BARN, by Patricia MacLahan (Katherine Tegan Books, Sept. 2019) and I WONDER, by Kari Anne Holt (Random House Books for Young Readers, Oct. 2019). Enter to win a copy of both!





Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.

I’m originally from Baltimore, Maryland. My parents were Korean immigrants who ran different food businesses downtown. My urban upbringing is a contrast to the later pastoral, suburban years in Howard County. There I found the hills and forests that I think about to this day. I always drew and painted, but I discovered film. I fell in love with animation and moved to California where I was fortunate enough to work in the animation industry after college. Later, I took a break from film and started illustrating picture books.


© Kenard Pak


Congratulations on your two recent books, THE 100 YEAR BARN and I WONDER. Tell us about them. Did you approach the illustrations in these differently? What kind of research do you do for your illustrations? 

Thank you! These two books are cousins, maybe more different than similar. At the time, I had returned to my pencil drawing skills from my days as an animation layout artist, and I wanted to see how I could make the pencil art as different as possible from my film work. I’d say THE 100 YEAR BARN is more like framed art, and I WONDER is more like a traditional children’s book. 


From THE 100 YEAR BARN © Kenard Park

In the former I abandoned direct lighting as much as possible, and for the latter I made use of empty space. My research with BARN was a combination of details from the author’s life and old farm photographs from the 20’s and 30’s. As for WONDER, I made things up as I worked


From I WONDER © Kenard Park


What projects are you working on now? You wear a lot of hats: artist, illustrator, animator. Do you find that these different artistic avenues influence each other? How do they influence your work as a children's illustrator? 

I’m currently working on a lovely winter picture book about a Lebanese girl visiting her grandmother. I’m also art directing a new film production, and I have a gallery show later in the year. I keep the artwork different between illustration, gallery work, and film. 


© Kenard Pak


I get bored very easily, and I like to work on varying ideas and methods (i.e. I’ve since abandoned pencil work). It’s strange though. With the new film production, I’m revisiting my picture book art from 5 years ago. I try to avoid any kind of film grammar in my picture book work. This said, I love filmmakers like Hirokazu Kore-Eda and Yasuhiro Ozu, so you can maybe see the influence there. As for my personal art, I experiment as much as possible.


© Kenard Pak


What projects are you working on now?

In addition to the winter book, I’m also working on a book about an autistic boy. Also in the works is the last of my seasonal series --- it has more architecture in it. I also have several secret manuscripts of my own that will someday, hopefully, see the light of day. My wife and I also have a project that we’ve been working on for years, a kind of follow-up to THE DINNER THAT COOKED ITSELF.


© Kenard Pak


What were the one or two best things you did to advance your career? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring illustrators?

The first rule I learned is to stay polite and regularly communicate with directors, production designers, art directors, editors, etc. Just being civil and listening does wonders. The second rule I learned is to find confidence, somehow, in what you do. Getting good at something has a lot to do with unfettered, consistent repetition. Find a niche you like and keep at it. I rarely give advice because I figure everyone is different? Maybe find a place or group of people that inspires you.


© Kenard Pak


What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I’m an avid fixie rider.


© Kenard Pak


Where can people find you online?

I frequent Twitter @kenardpak and Instagram @kenardpak My website is pandagun.com


© Kenard Pak


Kenard Pak is an illustrator, art director, and painter. Kenard has worked at animation companies including Dreamworks, Disney Feature, PDI, and Laika. He’s the author/illustrator of the seasonal GOODBYE SUMMER, HELLO AUTUMN series and has also illustrated other author’s books including HAVE YOU HEARD THE NESTING BIRD?, THE FOG, and CAT WISHES. Kenard lives in San Francisco with his lovely wife and a very nice, old cat.
   


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24 comments:

  1. Gorgeous work, and I learned what a "fixie" is! TY Kenard!

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  2. Your work is beautiful. Thanks for sharing the ways you move between different media. I wonder how the brain adapts to these creative shifts. Does it lead or follow? 😉

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  3. Such luminous artwork--loved THE 100 YEAR BARN! And how interesting that you, too, get easily bored and switch it up.

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  4. Oh my goodness, I love this illustrator. Both books look gorgeous and I loved reading about Mr. Park’s style. It’s so important to be civil and respectful in any job, so I was happy to see him mention it!

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  5. Wowza. Kenard, your work is absolutely breathtaking. How wonderful to introduce children to art like this at a young age. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself and your talents. I wish you much more success!

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  6. Thank you for sharing your background and artwork with us. Your work is gorgeous.

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  7. Such gorgeous art! Fascinated by all the hats you wear (and balance).

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  8. I love barns and Wondering about things and Kenard's artwork is beautiful so I would very much love to win one of his books!

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  9. It's interesting how different the two books are!

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  10. These illustrations are gorgeous! I love your art styles. I imagine the words are just as moving. I can't wait to read these books whether I win the giveaway or not!

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  11. Beautiful artwork! I love the style of the old barn. Reminds me of the hundreds of old barns we have here in western North Carolina!

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  12. I love Kenard's illustrations. Just beautiful!

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  13. Kenard Pak's artistic talent is amazing! I look forward to seeing both of these books.

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  14. These are both so beautiful. I'd be thrilled to have copies of them Thanks!

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  15. Thanks for this interview! Kenard's illustrations are lovely.

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  16. The textured illustrations in this book are so wonderful.

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  17. Thank you for the interview with Kenard Pak and sharing his beautiful creations.

    THE HUNDRED YEAR BARN is a special story. I look forward to reading I WONDER.

    Suzy Leopold

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  18. Love Kenard Pak's work--thanks for this interview!

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  19. Gently powerful style of illustration, Kenard! I was pleased to be introduced to you and your work here at Kidlit411. Will be on the lookout for more of your beautiful artwork! (I'll have to find out the age of the 'old' barn near the cranberry bogs in my neighborhood of Plymouth, MA. It's got a sign on it: "Kenard Barn"!)

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  20. Your art is absolutely gorgeous. So happy it's being shared with young children in these books.

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  21. Was just going to buy this book when I saw this.... Can't wait to get a copy. My book is about a 200 year old barn. Looking forward to see how you illustrate your barn.

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