Coffee & Conversation with Giuseppe Castellano

It’s Friday and you know what that means – we’re trying to survive frigid cold and bracing ourselves for yet another winter storm. I am beyond tired of this weather! Then again, I was tired of it two weeks after it started in November. In honor of the the last day of February (aka March Eve) here’s a taste of what we all hope is just around the corner:


You need more distractions from the chill? Then hurry up and get your critique submission in!  Today is the last day and the deadline is only a few hours away!

Now for the main event! As promised on Wednesday, we have Giuseppe Castellano visiting us in the Cyber Cafe. I can’t think of a better way to chase away the winter blues.


Giuseppe Castellano is an award-winning designer, illustrator, and art director at Penguin Group USA, with over 14 years of experience in book publishing. He oversees the imprints of Grosset & Dunlap, PSS!, Frederick Warne, the Penguin Young Readers, and Poptropica. You can read more from him, including his popular #artips series for illustrators, on Twitter: @pinocastellano.

Guiseppe will be presenting Children’s Book Art Department: An Inside Look at our March 29th conference. In this segment, attendees will be introduced to Giuseppe Castellano and the imprints he oversees at Penguin Group including Grosset and Dunlap, PSS!, Warne, and the Penguin Young Readers. We will get a look into what his department looks for in illustrators and what methods they use to find them. The segment will also cover best practices in illustrating children’s books as well as discussing formats. This section of the seminar is meant to offer attendees a deeper insight into the day-to-day inner workings of the children’s book art department.

Let’s get started!
First, what’s your favorite coffeehouse beverage?
I go to a street vendor every morning. For half the price of a Starbucks, I get a great coffee, and a good chat. My coffee guy counts down the days until the weekend for me. I appreciate that.
And your favorite snack?
It’s been the same since I was 6: Nutella on warm bread.
What was your favorite book as a child?
This is a tough one to answer. When I see answers to this question from others, I frankly don’t believe them. I think it’s mostly a bit of revisionist history. I can say that I remember liking Encyclopedia Brown and Transformers books. The truth is, I wasn’t really into books unless I had to read them for school. It wasn’t until I received a copy of an Italo Calvino’s ITALIAN FOLKTALES at RISD that I got into reading for pleasure.
I’ve read that recently and loved it! So, what’s your favorite book as an adult?
W. Somerset Maugham’s A MOON AND SIXPENCE. Roughly based on the life of Gauguin, it’s about a man, Charles Strickland, who leaves his seemingly normal life to pursue a desire to become a painter.
You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?
As a father of three young children, there is no frivolity with how my wife and I spend money. That being said, $100 worth of paint brushes sounds nice.
You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! What’s the first book you crack open?
THE ILLUSTRATOR IN AMERICA, 1860-2000 by Walt Reed. No really. It’s a thoroughly curated book on American Illustration by one of the great ambassadors of the subject. It should be required reading for every illustration student.

If you followed the career path you chose for yourself in high school, what would you be doing for a living now

I’m happy to say I’m doing it. I went to a very good high school for art in Maryland, Calvert Hall College High School. We were introduced to the possibility of a career in the arts. I didn’t know exactly what I’d do, but I knew it would be art-related.

For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?
Leonardo, so I can confirm with him what I think about the Mona Lisa: That it was just a damn portrait.
What is your favorite motivational quote?
“Inspiration is for amateurs.”—Chuck Close
And lastly, what is your best advice for illustrators in four words?
Draw. Draw. Draw. Draw
Hmmm….I think that can be easily converted for writers!
Thanks so much for stopping by Giuseppe! We’re all looking forward to hearing more from you next month.
Have a great weekend everyone!

About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
This entry was posted in Conference Information, Interviews: Art Director, Interviews: Illustrators and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Coffee & Conversation with Giuseppe Castellano

  1. It’s fun to look at life and practice through the eyes of an artist. This interview was a nice dose of professional passion. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for a great interview. I am eager to meet Giuseppe at the conference, and hear what he has to say.

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