Whenever I do a presentation for librarians, educators or students, the Q&A section is always fun. Two popular questions are: “Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?” and “how did you get your start as a children’s books author/illustrator?”

I will use these questions to frame the overall shape of my keynote address for the Kutztown University 2015 Children’s Literature Conference. In my presentation, I plan to show examples of my art and influences during important points in my life as a student, artist, author and educator. The audience can easily be distracted by these images, but I won’t let them become lulled by this art, because the message is also important. I will reiterate the unifying theme about the importance of the art of the picture book and why I love doing what I do.

I have been an illustrator for a long time. I can look back 20, 30, even 40 years and connect the dots which represented important chapters in my life. During those times, whenever I faced a ‘fork in the road’ I chose a path without fully understand the journey I was taking. Did I know that I was at a fork? No, of course not, I was too caught up in the day to day of my life!

I once read an amazing commencement speech from Steve Jobs. During this speech he says:

“you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

I guess that this approach has worked for me, because I trusted that those dots would connect in my future. Yes, I worried about the future, who doesn’t?  I just did not let it consume me. Besides, I was just too busy working hard and having fun along the way.

 

See you in Kutztown