Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Tomie dePaola
Feb. 13, 2015
Tomie dePaola is one of today's most recognized names in the world of children's literature. His charming characters and distinctive artistic style make his picture books appealing to both children and adults. Tommy has published folktales, such as the successful STREGA NONA series, nursery rhymes, board books, religious books, chapter books, and more. Tommy has illustrated over 200 children's books. In 2011 dePaola received the biennial Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the U.S. children's librarians. In addition to the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, he has received many other awards and honorary degrees.
KidLit411 is extremely excited to interview the amazing, TOMIE dePAOLA!!!
You have been writing and illustrating children's books for decades, have changes in technology effected the way you write or illustrate?
Technology has had absolutely no impact on my writing or drawing. I never learned to type, and I write everything by hand. I feel that the art of drawing letters and writing is part of my process. All of my art work is created by me, I don't do anything on the computer except for scanning my drawing to post them on my blog or in an email. All of my artwork is created using paper, brushes, ink and erasers. The old fashioned way.
|© Tomie dePaola
You have said that you write to the "architecture" of the book. What do you mean by that term?
Well, what I mean by that is that if you are creating a book about skyscrapers, you are going to visualize the book in an up and down, vertical manner. So the way you think about the book and the text all depends on the architecture of the book. A book that would be about the beach would be horizontal in it's architecture. It is very important to keep the shape of the book in mind when you are writing and drawing.
What advice would you give aspiring writers and illustrators? What should they be spending their time doing?
Go to art school.
DO NOT COPY!
Don't spend too much of your time not working. People often will spend time thinking about writing and drawing but spend very little time actually doing it. It takes courage and strength to be an artist. Don't be afraid. Just do it. Get moving.
You have a recognizable style that is simple and influenced by folk art. Has your style changed over the years? How does a new illustrator find his/her style?
Many years ago, my style found me, I don't think I ever looked for my style. So many people are obsessed with the growth process in art. If you want to learn how to draw cats, you'll have to draw 3 million cats before you can find out how to draw YOUR cat.
|© Tomie dePaola
If you want to know how to draw people, you'll have to draw 3 million of them first. As you go through the process, you will strip away parts of this and add a piece of that and at the end of the process you will find the style that is all your own. And by then your style will have found you. Stretch your own ability and never be satisfied!
Do you stories come first through words or pictures?
A word, a feeling, or an image, all of these things have come into my mind and have come out of as a rough draft. I like to sketch and doodle to see if it something works. When I am writing a book, I like to get the words down first, and then illuminate those words with my art. I like to use less words and tell the story visually. A quick, deep message is only half of the story, the rest of the story comes from the art.
Tomie dePaola was born on September 15, 1934 in Meriden, Connecticut. He grew up there with his father and mother, Joseph and Florence (Downey) dePaola, and his brother and sisters, Joseph, Judie and Maureen.
Tomie developed a love for books at an early age probably because his mother loved books and read to Tomie every day. At the age of four, Tomie told anyone who would listen that he wanted to write stories and draw pictures for books and to sing and tap dance on the stage when he grew up. (At age 76, Tomie can say he's done all of those things!)