David Hohn

IG: @davidhohnillo
Twitter: @david_hohn

1.     When you were my age (11), did you like to read?
DH: Yes I did! All the Oz books, Encyclopedia Brown, and The Great Brain we some of my favorites

2.     What is a book that made an impact on you?
DH: Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. This is the version of Peter Pan by JM Barrie that was written before Peter Pan and Wendy, which is the version that most people know. It showed me that books can change and evolve. Plus in the Kensington Gardens text there were WAY more fairies and gnomes and trees that were alive. Honestly, it’s the better version of the Peter Pan story.

3.     Is it hard to come up with book illustration ideas? 
DH: Yes and no. I think in images so reading any text will create pictures in my mind. When I was younger it was very hard to get those pictures out of my head an onto the paper in a way that I was satisfied with. But I really enjoyed the process so just I kind of stuck with it drawing whenever I could. These days getting the images out of my head is not nearly so hard (do anything for 20 years and you get pretty good at it) — now the trick is to choose the perfect moment, camera position, expression, costume etc that will best communicate with the reader of the book. I want the reader to feel what I’m feeling!

4.     How did you become an illustrator?
DH: I was twelve when I realized that “Illustrator” was something I could do for a job. I pretty much decided to do that and plowed forward. I did go to art school and majored in illustration. I did lots of children’s book related projects while in school. Once I graduated I found the contact information for as many editors and art directors of children’s book publishers I could find. I kept sending them samples of my work. Eventually I got a small project that led to another project and another. 

5.     How do you create your illustrations?
DH: For years I created my work using physical media. Mostly pencil, watercolor and oil paint. As for so many other artists, the computer became a faster more efficient way to create work and I shifted (slowly) over to that. But I’ve worked hard to make the computer do what I want it to do. So my work still maintains the look and textures, and more importantly the “feeling” of physical media.

6.     What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an illustrator?
DH: Read and draw as much as you can! For picture books I’ve found that it’s really important to read it out loud. That way I can better hear that cadence and musicality of the text. Spend as much time drawing from your imagination as you do drawing from real life. All the stuff your draw from life will become fodder for your imaginative drawings.

7.     Do you ever hear from readers about your illustrations?
DH: I will get e-mails and I alway appreciate it! And of course every book review is nice enough to mention the illustrations.

8.     If you could portal into any book (yours or another person’s), what book would it be?
DH: The Day the Crayons Quit illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and written by Drew Daywalt. Such a great book! Plus when I read it I have each crayon speak in a different accent — and I just really want to know if I got each accent right. Especially Pink, which I always imagine having a real thick New York accent.

From Headstrong Hallie written by Aimee Bissonette

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