A Conversation with Ed Young, Jerry Pinkney and Peter Sís
Home can be both an inspiration and a place to leap from. Join us as we talk with Ed Young, Jerry Pinkney and Peter Sís about their creative journeys and how the many facets of “home” inspires them.
A panel including: Ed Young, Jerry Pinkney and Peter Sís
Moderated by Christina Ha
ABOUT OUR PANELISTS:
“A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words,” explains Young. “They are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe.”
Born in Tientsin, China, Ed Young grew up in Shanghai and later moved to Hong Kong. As a young man, he came to the United States on a student visa to study architecture but turned instead to his love of art.
Young began his career as a commercial artist in advertising and found himself looking for something more expansive, expressive, and timeless. He discovered all this, and more, in children’s books.
The subject and style of each story provide Young with the initial inspiration for his art and with the motivation for design, sequence, and pace. Accuracy in research is essential to his work, too – whether he is illustrating fantasy, folk tale, or fact. According to Young, a strong foundation of credibility must be established in order to create new and exciting images. Through such images, he hopes to capture his readers and ultimately expand their awareness.
Young’s quest for challenge and growth are central in his role as illustrator. “Before I am involved with a project I must be moved, and as I try something exciting, I grow. It is my purpose to stimulate growth in the reader as an active participant as well,” Young explains. “I feel the story has to be exciting, and a moving experience for a child.”
A graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Young has since taught at the Pratt Institute, Yale University, Naropa Institute, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. In 1990, his book Lon Po Po was awarded the Caldecott Medal. He has also received two Caldecott Honors – for The Emperor and the Kite and Seven Blind Mice – and was twice nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, the highest international recognition given to children’s book authors and illustrators who have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature.
Young lives in Westchester County, New York, with his two daughters, and two cats.
A native of Philadelphia, Jerry Pinkney studied at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) where, in 1992, he received the Alumni Award. He has been illustrating children’s books since 1964, illustrating over one hundred titles. His books have been translated into sixteen languages and published in fourteen countries, and he has been the recipient of a Caldecott Medal, five Caldecott Honors, and five New York Times “Best Illustrated Books.” He has received five Coretta Scott King Awards, and four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards. Furthermore, he has received numerous awards for his body of work. In 2003, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University; in 2010, the Doctorate of Fine Arts, honoris causa from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, Lancaster, PA; and in 2012, an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education in New York. Jerry was also a United States nominee for the l997 Hans Christian Andersen Illustration Medal, recognizing those whose complete works have made a lasting contribution to children’s literature. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Arts Award at the Governor’s Awards for the Arts in Pennsylvania. The Society of Illustrators in New York, NY has presented Jerry with four gold medals, four silver medals, the Hamilton King Award, and in 2006, their Original Arts Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2011, he was elected into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.
“A sense of community has always been important to me, and I want that to be reflected in my art. When I speak of community, I am not only talking about the immediate world around me, but also legacy. I am always searching for projects that connect with my culture and the experience of being Black in America.
“I love the act of making marks on paper, and seeing those marks develop into a picture. How rewarding it is to just sit, observe, and paint! But I am a storyteller at heart, which is why I was drawn to picture books. Each project begins with the question, “Is this story worth telling? Is the manuscript an interesting read? Is it surprising and challenging? Will I, in the process of making pictures, learn something new?” With these questions answered, I let the text speak to me. The style in which a story is written will offer me clues and give direction.
“When I am working for children, I aim for clarity with a direct correlation between text and art, but I still illustrate stories not as I imagine a child sees them, but how I see them. My work is my life’s vocation, yet it is also the way I get to speak about interests and passions, the immediacy of drawing and my love of painting. What drives my narratives is the search for order, symmetry, beauty and emotion. I want to lead the viewer into my imagination—a world that exists inside these pictures. I have illustrated over a hundred children’s books, and my wish for each one is that all ages will be able to find something that touches them in some way.”
Peter Sís is an internationally acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. Peter is a seven-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, a two-time Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honoree, and has won the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal twice. Peter’s books, Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei, Tibet through the Red Box, and The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain were all named Caldecott Honor books by the American Library Association. The Wall was also awarded the Robert F. Sibert Medal.
In addition, Peter Sís is the first children’s book illustrator to win the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. He was chosen to deliver the 2012 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture for the Association for Library Service to Children. Peter won the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Award. This award is considered the most prestigious in international children’s literature, given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People.
Peter Sís lives in the New York City area with his wife and children.