When I sat down to plan this month BSW portrait I was looking at my list of favourite illustrators, pattern designers and artists so far… and found… there is not a single guy represented! WHAT?! How could not even one male artist spontaneously pop up in my mind when listing my top choices? I had to get my note book and check my original list of artists again – no men. Isn’t that too much… My apologies! Well, writing the first BSW post on the second year of blogging is a perfect opportunity to change that. So here we go…
JON KLASSEN. Strange that he wasn’t on my list, since I’ve admired his children’s books for years now. I first saw his book “I Want My Hat Back” in 2011 rapidly followed by “This Is Not My Hat” in 2012. Together they have sold 1.5 million copies worldwide as well as received such prestigious awards as the Caldecott Medal. And this upcoming week, October 11th, Candlewick Press will release his latest book “We Found a Hat”. I can’t wait to get it!
Jon Klassen is a Canadian author and illustrator of children books and aside his own books you can also find him collaborating with other authors, such as Sara Pennypacker, Mac Barnett or Lemony Snicket to mention a few. Starting out as an animator working on huge projects at the Dreamworks Studio and LAIKA for several years, he decided in 2010 to pursue a path on his own as an independent illustrator. His first one, “Cat’s Night Out” by Carolyn Stutson, won a Canadian Governor Generals Award and a new star on the firmament of children’s illustration was born. Some even mean that he renewed the genre in a profound way. Like Sweden, Canada seem to produce a big impact in the world of children’s books and Klassen is one of the most wellknown Canadian illustrators worldwide aside other big names like Manon Gauthier (see this post) and Isabelle Arsenault.
His books often has ambiguous endings, and things might not end well for some of the characters. The subject in the “Hat” trilogy is theft, and the little thieves just disappear mysteriously in the end… there’s a moral dilemma in each of his books and he is not afraid to show the dark sides of the characters but with a touch of humor that makes the children identify (as well as the adults!). He never patronizes kids and that’s one of the reasons for his great success.
I’ve read a number of interesting articles about this guy and he is very generous to share his views on both the psychological and the technical aspects of illustrating. It’s somehow good to know that someone so experienced and reputed as Klassen still faces the same issues and fears as all of us starting out on a new project and that he challenge himself out of the comfort zone every time. Here’s a glimpse from his diverse production.
Now, SAVE THE DATE, 11 OCT, for the release of “WE FOUND A HAT” by Jon Klassen, Candlewick Press
Find art prints here
All copyrights of the pictures belong to the artist Jon Klassen