Meet this year’s TD Summer Reading Club artist, Matt James!
Matt is a noted painter, illustrator and musician, who lives in Toronto, Ontario. He has illustrated the picture books Yellow Moon, Apple Moon by Pamela Porter, I Know Here by Laurel Croza and most recently Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers. He is currently working with Laurel on the pictures for the sequel to I Know Here.
The books that Matt has illustrated have won many awards, including the New Mexico Book Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.
We wanted to get to know Matt a little bit better so we asked him some questions:
Where did you grow up?
Woodstock Ontario. It was a great place to be a kid. Our house was in town but it felt rural at the same time. My parents still live in that same house. When I was young we had a forest in the backyard, but a tornado came blowing through in 1979 and broke most of the trees off at the waist. Our backyard connected with Mr. Deacon’s backyard. He collected tractors and had a barn with a big weathervane on top. I was certain that a giant and very sinister chicken lived in that barn...
When did you know you wanted to be an illustrator?
Hmm--it was pretty early on...
My brother and I liked to trace comic books and also draw pictures of rock bands and spaceships from Star Wars. When I was in grade 4 I took a cartooning class at the YMCA.
I really loved it.
I also really liked to pretend that tennis rackets were guitars-but there is no money in that.
How do you create your illustrations?
By accident! Happy accident really...no wait...controlled happy accident. Fun is key; my best pictures are made when I’m having fun- that’s why I use messy ink and pens and tubes of beautiful acrylic paint.
I love squeezing the paint out of those tubes. Also I move around a lot. Sometimes I sit on the floor and paint, sometimes I stand at my easel and other times I sit at a desk.
What do you like doing when you’re not drawing or painting?
Being a dad! It's great! I have two boys-Noble and Julius. Noble loves LEGO, and so do I. Julius is the baby. He loves to make funny noises. He is excellent at doing raspberries.
Rebecca is their mom and the four of us play together a lot.
At night when the two boys are asleep, and we are done doing the dishes, Rebecca and I break out our tennis rackets and dance around the house.