Christian Robinson is the illustrator of lots of children’s books including the award-winning Last Stop on Market Street, The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade and Gaston. He also has a new book coming out called Carmela Full of Wishes.
I met him recently at an an illustrator talk. He is very nice. He talked about his childhood and how he came to be an illustrator. He said he uses construction paper, acrylic paint and cut-out shapes to create his pictures. He also does stop motion animation. I started creating stop motion videos after he talked about it and it’s really cool!
Christian Robinson gets inspired to illustrate sometimes just by walking outside. I think his style is simple and pleasant to look at.
I was surprised when he let me interview him right away. I thought we would email him, but he said I could do it right before he had to speak. It was my first in-person interview. Here is what he said:
Question: What is your artist style?
Answer: I like to draw pictures that are simple and fun. And I try to make sure whenever I’m creating something I’m just having fun and enjoying the process because I think that same energy and spirit could come across to the reader, so I would say fun, simple, playful.
Q: Why do you think diversity is important in children’s literature?
A: That’s a really good question. I think diversity is important in children’s literature, for an illustrator especially as an illustrator I work with pictures and I know that pictures are tools to communicate, to communicate ideas and messages. And it’s important for me to communicate messages that make people feel good, that empower the that lets them know they matter. And seeing yourself in a book, I believe, let’s you know that you matter and that your story is valuable and important.
Q: How do you get inspiration?
A: That’s a good question. I think inspiration is everywhere around us. So, sometimes I’m inspired just from walking down the street and seeing something happen, or seeing a color of a wall or the sky or a tree. So many things can inspire me.
I also get inspired by going to a museum and just seeing art and paintings. I get inspired by listening to music. Sometimes that gives me energy and helps me draw … and reading other stories.
Q: What is one of your favorite books that you have illustrated?
A: So, I get asked this question pretty often and it’s actually a difficult question to answer because I think of each book as like something very special. And I think It’s almost like if you were to ask your parent or caretaker, if you had a sibling, “Which one of us is your favorite?” Each one is special. Each one matters to you. I would say Last Stop on Market Street, of course, is also very special to me because it’s kind of about me and my grandmother and our experience.
Q: What illustrators do you like?
A: I love all sorts of art, fine art that you see in museums, like Picasso and all those people. I love a lot of illustrators from sort of the golden age of illustrations, a lot of Mid-century design sort of artists from the mid-50s and 60s. I like Ezra Jack Keats who did The Snowy Day. I love this artist name Bruno Munari, Roger Duvoisino Lionni is one of my favorites. He did Swimmy and a whole bunch of other ones. And let me think of one more. I really like Beatrice Alemagna. She’s amazing.
The photo of Christian Robinson above and the one of him in his studio below are courtesy of Anastasiia Sapon. The artwork was created by Christian Robinson.
What was the most exciting part of doing the live interview?
I think it’s awesome you were brave enough to go on stage and talk to him!
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The most exciting part was I got to talk to him in person and I liked hearing his words, not from a computer, but from his own mouth. There wasn’t really a stage, but I talked to him by the podium and then we sat in chairs for the interview. Thank you for telling us about his visit!