Tell us a bit about your work and why you became an illustrator?
I have always loved drawing and painting since early childhood. I don’t ever feel I “became” an illustrator, it’s just what I do. I spent some years as an art director in ad agencies, so I’m used to generating a lot of creative ideas. It’s like a muscle you learn to develop. Now that I work independently, I try to follow my gut, an inner directive that tells me which idea may be right to follow through and spend time on. I put in enormous time and effort to realize any given project, but if things are going well, it doesn’t feel like work.
What inspires your work?
A sense of silence, observing nature. Looking at mundane things, noticing details that may seem ordinary. Walks are a vital part of my life. It has nothing to do with thinking. In fact, the less my wheels are spinning and ruminating, the better. I learned this from observing my dog, Marcello. Dogs just watch, without judgement. That is very inspiring. I’m very fortunate to live near the Hudson River, a wide expanse of sky, water and natural life. I’m there in all weather, including the worst. It’s often the most dramatic.
What inspired your recent book ‘Everything is Mine’?
My dearest friend and companion, a schnauzer named Marcello. I was deeply affected by his passing a few years ago. He was so adventurous, inquisitive, intelligent, and tireless as far as walking for miles. He had a most particular and opinionated point of view, even as a small puppy. He had a great sense of his own self-esteem verging on superiority, which made me laugh all the time. He made it so clear that his ideas were best, and mine did not always meet his personal standards. He was a natural character for a story, and his voice was easy to capture. It’s a picture book, so I aimed for the humour be accessible for a child, but also have enough sophistication that adults might get a real chuckle as well. There is a “Greek chorus” of wise-cracking dog toys that talk back, and overall the book has a sense of irreverence.
What’s your earliest memory of dogs being in your life?
My grandmother gave me a silver poodle when I was about 3 or 4. I have many photos of me hugging him. I clearly remember a neighbour’s Collie, at the same very early age. I just connected instantly with most all dogs. I remember a Boston Terrier biting me when I was about 6 or so, but to be fair, I was also hugging him and probably too tightly!
If you could be a dog for the day which breed would you choose to be and why?
I don’t know if any human is actually evolved enough to be a dog. I consider them to be superior beings with greater sensitivity, intuition and they possess an intrinsic happiness. So, any dog might do, however, since I’m partial to swimming and have a great affinity for being in water, maybe a lab or retriever – any that love that too!