Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Open Book Foundation

We recently had the opportunity to share Gordon Parks' story with third and fourth graders at two schools in Washington D.C, made possible by An Open Book Foundation. I'll never forget this amazing experience! 

Signed copies of our book were given to third and fourth graders at two schools in Washington D.C. thanks to An Open Book Foundation.

Carole reading our book to Mrs. Grahm's third grade class, Malcom X Elementary, Washington D.C.

Q & A "How much money do you make as an illustrator?"  : )

Impromptu drawing demo with the kids!

More drawing! I had gotten a request to add a dog bone to the picture. : ) 

Copes of Gordon Parks being handed out by our event's very generous sponsors. 

D.C. Hopscotch

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Support Teachers

Make a statement and show some love for the teachers that have inspired you and helped you to shine. I designed this a few years back while watching the coverage of striking teachers in Wisconsin and Chicago. I wanted to create something positive that spoke to the dedicated teachers I knew growing up. T-shirts, coffee mugs, and more with the design are now available in time for Teacher Appreciation Week May 4-8, at Cafepress and Society6. A portion of each purchase will go to art education at the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) in memory of my mom Connie Christoph, an elementary school art teacher of 30 years. She taught from a motorized wheel chair when ALS took her ability to stand and continued to make art with her students the last months of her life. Please share your own inspiring teacher stories. Thanks!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Happy 126th Charlie Chaplin!

To say I idolized Charlie Chaplin growing up doesn't quite capture the feeling, I wanted to be Charlie Chaplin! Happy Birthday old friend-

Friday, February 13, 2015

Communication Arts 2015

Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, by Carole Boston Weatherford

Just received great news! I am a competition winner in the 2015 Communication Arts Illustration Annual. My favorite spread from our new children’s book about Gordon Parks will appear in the magazines’ March/April issue. Happy and so appreciative for the great exposure! 

Gordon Parks

About a year ago, I received an email inquiry about a job, a children’s book about the pioneer 20th century photographer Gordon Parks.  Regrettably I knew very little about the man, but a quick google search revealed his remarkable story.  His still birth and miraculous resuscitation by the family physician Dr. Gordon, his humble beginnings in a segregated school room in Kansas, the tragic loss of his mom at age 15, and finally the racism he encountered all along the way.  And then there were his beautiful photos, glamorous, vintage, and provocative, each so powerful, spanning his accomplished 75-year career.  An inspired and poetic manuscript written by Caldecott Medal Honoree Carole Boston Weatherford arrived later that afternoon along with a contract– I had the night to think everything over. I knew this was an incredible opportunity, but it came with a few tough questions.  Did I have the time to take this on? It was shaping up to be a very busy January and I had just signed on to illustrate four children’s books for another publisher.  Could I complete it in time? It had a very tight schedule. ...and most importantly, did I have the chops for something like this, could I do Gordon’s story justice? Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night.  Fellow freelancers, I’m sure you know the feeling.

At the time we were living Annapolis, Maryland and our days often began at the City Dock Starbucks, located at the town’s picturesque harbor.  I’ll never forget that morning, I was walking along the shoreline tired and lost in thought and soon found myself at the Alex Haley Memorial, a group of bronze statues with the esteemed novelist of Roots seated on a bench and reading to children.  I was familiar with the arrangement, but something special caught my eye that morning, a nearby plaque that concludes with these words, “Take time to share heritage stories with children so they can pass on their proud heritage and learn respect for the heritage of others.”  At that moment, I knew I had to take time to help tell Gordon's story, I’m grateful for the opportunity.

You can purchase copies of the book from the publisher, Albert Whitman & Company here. 

I wanted to share my favorite spread from the book along with a few sketches showing my process.  Carole's words and Gordon's actual Washington D.C. photographs were my inspiration for this scene.

Friday, February 6, 2015

I am excited today to share a link to my new website, Check it out to see many of the projects I have shared here, all under one umbrella, and a few new ones too!