Today I want you to meet my friend, author/illustrator, Jed Henry. Jed's illustrations have enhanced a couple of books, like PICK A PUP and Huckabee's CAN'T WAIT TIL CHRISTMAS, over the past 2 years. But now his work has exploded with 2 books coming out this year alone, 2 of which he wrote as well as illustrated. Released just this month is Jed's I SPEAK DINOSAUR, a creative book about a boy who "becomes" a dinosaur and learns about friendship and behavior. My 2 year old loves the "dinosaur speak" and gribber grabbers along with it. I can't wait for his book CHEER UP MOUSE to come out early next year. (if you click on those links you'll see the most amazing picture book trailers ever that Jed created himself) Jed's list of books can be seen and purchased on his Amazon Author page HERE.
You were an animation major in college, right? What made you decide to focus on children's books instead?
Yeah, I majored in animation, and fully intended to work in an LA studio. My senior year, I was winning national awards, and landed an enviable internship in LA. But for some reason, things didn't work out as planned. I couldn't find work at any of the animation studios, and recruiters seemed distant. My dream of working in the animation industry was off to a disappointing start.
Around that time, I began to investigate the publishing community here in Utah. There is a bizarre concentration of career writers and illustrators living out here. Rick Walton is one such veteran, and he kindly allowed me to audit his class three semesters in a row. Will Terry and Guy Francis are two local illustrators who also took me under their wing. Lastly, Carol Lynch Williams helped kick-start my career by introducing me to editors who visited from New York. Without the guidance of these people, I never would have found my way. I can't thank them enough.
Your latest book, the first you wrote AND illustrated, "I Speak Dinosaur" was just released. It is creative, fun and relatable. Great job! How did you "break in" to the children's book scene?
With the help of the above mentioned people, I took writing and illustration classes, and attended SCBWI and other conferences. I wrote and drew stories furiously – probably ten dummy books in just a year or two. Then a friend of mine saw my work, and introduced me to his agent. I signed on, and the rest is history.
What was your biggest "rookie" mistake as an illustrator? (or were you just awesome from the beginning?)
Oh geez! The first picture book I wrote was in rhyme. It's not a universal no-no, but rhyme is definitely harder to pull off than simple, clever prose. I've never attempted it since. Oh, that's a lie. I tried it again one other time, and failed. Then I quit for good.
What is the best part and the hardest part about being an illustrator?
Being an illustrator is most fun when the story has energy, and the visuals require ingenuity. It's boring when a story falls flat, or doesn't inspire them enough.
Any Words of Wisdom to the world?
Buy my books. They're what's missing from your life – no joke. :)
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