Happy Tuesday, everyone!
With more than 90 children’s books published and more than 2,000 book-cover illustrations, Floyd Cooper has established himself as a master craftsman of children’s literature and illustration. Born and raised in Tulsa, Floyd received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma. He started his career in illustration at Hallmark, and after success in the industrial side of art, he made the leap into picture books with Eloise Greenfield’s Grandpa’s Face.
Since then Floyd has worked with bestselling authors including: Jane Yolen, Nikki Grimes, and Virginia Fleming. Floyd has illustrated and authored his own books Jump! about the life of Michael Jordan, and the ALA Notable Book, Coming Home, about the life of Langston Hughes. He received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for The Blacker the Berry.
Floyd will be presenting Life Drawing: The Art of Floyd Cooper on Saturday at 2:30. And now that he’s settled with his favorite beverage, water …
… and his favorite snack, popcorn …
Let’s begin! First up, one of my favorite interview questions. What was your favorite book as a child?
Anderson’s Fairy Tales.
When did you decide to be an illustrator?
I was an illustrator before I knew that I was. I made the conscious decision in high school.
What advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?
Read more books!
Absolutely! Okay, what’s your favorite medium?
Where’s your favorite place to work?
On my old oak drawing table.
Which illustrators inspire you?
I am inspired most by Jerry Pinkney and Paul O. Zelinsky.
How do you describe your style and has it changed throughout your career?
For picture books it is and always has been, the subtractive oil process. I will demonstrate at the meeting.
How were you inspired to illustrate your current or upcoming release?
I am a pushover for historical events. That is inspiration enough for me!
What was one of your favorite assignments?
Illustrating Kristy Duncan Dempsey’s A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT was a blast! And anything written by Joyce Carol Thomas.
If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now?
Well, I am self actualized in that regard. I did want to be a doctor as a much younger student.
For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased artist you want. Who do you pick?
Leonardo Da Vinci!
You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?
On a doctor visit to see what I contracted eating cereal contaminated with money. My mom always told us money was filthy and should never be put in our mouths! But not before considering spending it on four new picture books.
Ha, good one! Okay, what is your favorite quote?
“No matter where you go, there you are!”
If you could sum up your best advice for new illustrators in only four words, what would they be?
Read, read, read, draw!
Time for the lightning round!
Do you . . .
Work from photos or imagination? Both.
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped? Zipped.
Prefer sketching or final art? Final art.
Dread marketing/blogging or love it? Dread it.
Enjoy brainstorming more or researching? Researching.
Read Kindle or traditional books? Pulp & ink.
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work? 4 am.
Music to listen to while drawing? Various
Traditional media or digital? Traditional
Pair of shoes? My 10-year-old Nike Shocks
Guiltiest pleasure? Haagan Daz
Line from a movie? “Stay gold, Pony Boy.”
(Okay, I must admit, like in yesterday’s interview, I had to look that one up. ;))
Thanks, Floyd, for stopping by and letting us get to know you before the conference! I’m looking forward to hearing you speak.
Happy writing and drawing, everyone!
And if you’ve missed any of our previous interviews, here are the links!