Kevin Luthardt, author/illustrator of Hats!, Peep!, Mine!, and countless others, took time from his busy schedule of promoting his new book, Flying!, to answer some of our questions.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you start writing?
Well, I actually always wanted to be an artist. As a kid, I specifically wanted to be a comic strip cartoonist, like Charles Schulz who made Peanuts. So, being an author and illustrator of picture books is fairly similar. I suppose I have been telling stories with pictures as far back as I can remember.
If you weren’t a writer, what your job be?
I think I would probably be a teacher of some sort. I enjoy working with kids and using my work to teach and inspire students of all ages has been one of my goals from the beginning of my career. So, instead of me being a formal teacher, I married a teacher!
For you, what is the hardest part of writing a book?
The hardest part is the very beginning… coming up with that one good idea to focus on. I have all sorts of ideas floating around my brain, but singling out one story to focus on is difficult.
What advice would you give to young writers and/or illustrators?
My advice is pretty simple… write! draw! Develop a strong discipline and work ethic. Someone told me at the very beginning of my career that you can’t call yourself an artist until you’ve done over 100 paintings. What he was really saying was to get to work. I would also advise taking a writing class or art class outside of school. Of course, read lots of books and study different artists.
Do you have any ideas for new books right now?
Yes… robots and aliens… that’s all I’ll say for now.
When you write a book entirely by yourself (words and illustrations), does your idea start with an image or the plot?
It can either or both at the same time. Each story is different. However, I am more of a visual thinker, so more often the idea comes with the image first. Usually I begin with a character I’ve sketched, and I develop a story around that character.
What is your favorite thing to draw?
I don’t think I have one favorite thing to draw. I guess animals and kids.
Do you base any of your plots on your own childhood?
I suppose all of my stories reflect something from my childhood or other part of my life in some way or another. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes more obvious. My book “Peep!” was directly inspired by my own childhood pet duck, named Peepsee. It was an unusal pet to have, so it stuck out in my memory and I just had to use it in a story. My newest book “Flying!” is directly inspired by being a dad. I have three boys at home
Who is YOUR favorite author or book?
I don’t have just one so that’s hard to say… Since I’m a picture book author/illustrator I’ll give you some of my favorite picture book authors and artists (in no order): Arnold Lobel, David Shannon, Michael Sowa, Eric Rohmann, Mo Willems, Lane Smith, Chris Van Allsburg, Quint Buchholz…
What are your hobbies when you aren’t writing?
Well, the fun part of my job is that my hobby is my job! I love what I do.
Most of whatever little free time I have is spent with my family… is that a hobby?
I play guitar, read, watch movies, I work with kids at church… I love to travel, but that’s pretty hard when you have babies at home.
Do you have any subjects that you’ve always wanted to write about, but haven’t?
Well, I’ve only done picture books so far, and I would love to some day write a novel for children. I have a story I have been working on veeeeerrrrry sloooowly. I’m still trying to figure out what it’s about, so I can’t share too much. Maybe I’ll finish it by the time my kids graduate from college. I am more of an artist than a writer, so I haven’t developed this discipline as much.
Thank you, Kevin Luthardt! If you’re interested in learning more about Mr. Luthardt’s new book, he’ll be holding a book release party on Friday, April 3, 2009 at 6pm at the Brickton Art Center in Park Ridge, IL. The book party will also be an opening for an exhibition of original artwork from Flying! and some of his earlier books.
“The Art of Flying!”
an exhibition of original illustrations by Kevin Luthardt
Artist’s Reception: April 3, 2009, 6:00pm
Show runs: March 31-April 22
Brickton Art Center
396 Busse Highway
Park Ridge, IL 60068