Books have always been something I've hoarded. I have stacks and stacks filling my shelves at home and my very favorite books here at school. Its an understatement to say that books did not influence me as an illustrator and eventually find myself working towards a career in book illustration
A lesser known fact about me is that I didn't learn to really read until fourth grade. I struggled in elementary school and depended on the illustrations to explain the stories to me. Dr. Seuss was my favorite, no surprise I was attracted to his bizarre creature designs and strange contraptions, I often looked forward to eating green eggs and ham at school.
The first book I ever finished front to back on my own when I was in 5th grade was 'The Magician's Nephew' by C.S. Lewis. Those books were the gateway to discovering other authors. The books had an amount of escapism that I needed at that age (in order to survive school) and inspired many drawings for years.
But the most important piece of literature I encountered as a child was 'The Lord of The Rings' by J.R.R. Tolkien. The films were released when I was in middle school and soon I was begging my Mom for a copy of the books at age 10. I didn't have the reading skills for the books, it took me 2 years to read 'The Fellowship of the Ring'. I carried it with me everyday to school and would read it when I had a free chance. The books introduced me to many fantasy artists like John Howe and Alan lee (who both worked on the films) and inspired me to work hard at becoming a serious artist.
In High School, I read the series again by Tolkien and it inspired me to take a shot at writing. I was not very good at it, but I did get a scholarship to attend 'Arts High School' for creative writing. Books became a comfort for me in high school as I slowly realized I was out growing the town I grew up in and was preparing to attend college.
At college, when I wasn't in class I enjoyed reading (besides DRAWING). My first semester I was not an illustration major, but had an epiphany. I liked reading and liked to draw things inspired by words, I was always inspired by words and imaginary worlds. I just never had a name to attach to the art I liked to create until illustration came into the picture.
Now that I am a senior, its time to think the direction I want to go with my career. Once again, books inspired me. I have always enjoyed illustrated chapter books like Narnia, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Spiderwick Chronicles, and Coraline. So I decide that is the direction I am going to take, starting with my independent study where I am illustrating 'The Hobbit' and my senior thesis, where I am creating a mystical world of creatures in the style of an illuminated manuscript.
Here's to little sleep, lots of drawing, and reading a great book.