Meet the faculty of the 2017 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We’ve asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.
John Hendrix, Illustrator
John Hendrix is a New York Times Bestselling illustrator, and author of many children’s books, including, Shooting at the Stars, Drawing is Magic, John Brown: His Fight for Freedom and his newest Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus. His illustrations have appeared on book jackets, newspapers and magazines all over the world, including Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The New Yorker and many others. John’s work has won many awards, including three Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators. John also is an associate professor, teaching illustration and typography, in the Sam Fox School of Art and Design at Washington University in St. Louis.
What attracted you to children’s books?
I’ve always loved drawing, and I’ve loved stories. I can remember reading Cathedral for the first time as a kid and realizing that I loved learning things through pictures. I vividly remember my first illustrated edition of The Hobbit. I loved the story, but longed to find the page with the pictures coming next! The connection of story and image is so clearly essential in kids stories, I think I’ve always wanted to be a kids book artist.
What’s the best part of your job?
There are so many great parts to being an illustrator, but hands down the best part is meeting the kids in person who interact with your book and your characters. When you see how much kids invest in their books, and that your books have this secret life you never really get to be a part of (even though you made it!) it is very rewarding.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Most of my biggest challenges don’t come from where folks imagine them to be, like a grumpy editor or a publisher changing a cover at the last minute. The real challenge is encountering the gap between what you imagined a book to be and what it actually is. Every artist experiences this “loss” in some way when we finally realize an idea into a formal object. But it never gets easier. I’ve learned to mourn (in a way) the concept of what I though I was making, and learn to enjoy what it actually became.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?
I have been very impatient in my career, and even 15 years in I still realize that it takes a very long time to do good work. It takes a long time find your voice and you just have to be patient and not give up. My pastor once said “Faith is defined as a long-suffering obedience in the same direction.” I think that applies to a career in kid’s books. Stay the course, and make the work you want to make.
Come see John at the 2017 Austin SCBWI conference, May 20-21, 2017