Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Meet Our 2020 Conference Faculty: Ben Clanton

Meet the faculty of the 2020 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.

Ben Clanton, Author/Illustrator

Ben Clanton is the award-winning author and illustrator of the Narwhal and Jelly early graphic novel series as well as such picture books as It Came in the Mail, ROT: The Cutest in the World, and Rex Wrecks It. Ben lives in Seattle, WA with his wife Kelsey and their children. Find out more about Ben at

Ben Clanton
Ben Clanton

What attracted you to children’s books?

I’ve always loved stories and cartoons, but I was a bit of a reluctant reader as a kid. It was a certain series you probably have never heard of called Harry Potter that showed me how magical books can be. Harry Potter and my newfound appreciation for books would eventually set me on the path of volunteering at an elementary school library when in college. It was when reading with students that I found myself going “I think I like these books even more than the kids . . . I wonder if I could make a book . . .”


What’s the best part of your job?

The part I enjoy the most is coming up with ideas and characters. Those moments when something sparks and a story starts to take shape. But the most meaningful part for me is when I get the chance to interact with young readers and see that my work has helped inspire them to want to create, read, and dream.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?


There are two things that I find equally challenging: (1) having enough time in a day to create all I want to and do all I need to and (2) having confidence in what I’m creating (I’m definitely my worst critic).


What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?


I can’t remember who I heard say it (maybe a David Small interview?) or what the exact wording was but this is what I try to keep in mind and do . . . Create something every day and that way day by day you make this world a little better and yourself too.


Come see Ben Clanton at the 2020 Austin SCBWI conference, May 2-3, 2020