Monday, October 22, 2007

Robert's Snow Illustrator - Mark Teague

My teacher, Ms. Danielson, assigned us an interview paper for language arts. My job is to find out as much as I can about the author and illustrator Mark Teague. Since we just finished reading Dr. Mr Henshaw, she wants each of us to write a letter and then share the response. Letter? Doesn't she know that no one really communicates this way any more? I'll bet if I tried hard enough, I could learn everything I needed to know on the Internet and Ms. D. would be none the wiser. Are you with me? Okay, here's my draft of the letter from Mark Teague.

Dear Tricia,
Thank you so much for your kind letter. I am very busy with work, but never too busy to respond to one of my many fans. I hope you'll forgive the fact that this note is typed, but in order to maximize my time in the studio I dictate letters while I paint. As you can see, it may save time, but it doesn't keep the printed copy safe from drips and splatters of paint. Without further ado, here are the answers to your questions.

1. How were you trained as an artist?
I received no formal training whatsoever. Nada. Zip. Zilch. The down side to this is that there is still a lot I don't know, and some stuff that has taken me years to learn that I could have picked up in the first semester of art school.

2. Which illustrator's have influenced your work?
At first I was inspired by the work of Chris Van Allsburg, Richard Egielski and William Joyce. Now I find inspiration in the stuff produced by David Shannon, Kevin Hawkes, Mary GrandPré, Paul O. Zelinsky and Stephen Johnson.

3. What medium do you work in?

4. What process do you use in creating your artwork and how long does it take?
It takes me about 4 months to illustrate a book. I wrote a short article on how I illustrate picture books. It's pretty cool and has pictures that show the whole process. Check it out!

5. Did you like to read when you were a kid? What were your favorite books?

My mom took us to the library every week, so I loved to read. As for my favorite books, I loved Where the Wild Things Are. I also liked Dr. Seuss and Babar.

6. How is illustrating a book that someone else has written different from one you've written yourself?
It is very different working with another author, but challenging, because I'm sort of borrowing someone else's imagination. I really like this kind of work, and I get to make art for amazing authors, like Audrey Wood, Cynthia Rylant, and Jane Yolen.

7. What do you think of your editor?
My editor is a tough critic. In fact, she often finds flaws in my very best stories-sometimes major flaws. And when she finds them, she points them out. I've had stories come back from her so covered in small, written comments that I could hardly read my own words anymore. It's a terrible thing she does. What makes it really awful is that she's usually right.

8. Do you have any kids? If yes, do you want more?
Yes, I have two children. Do I want more? Have you not read any of my books? (Baby Tamer, for example?) Did you not notice the I depict children as dinosaurs? Just kidding! I think kids are great and I'm very happy with the ones I have.

9. What are you working on now?
Here's a hint!
10. I hear you've made a snowflake for Robert's Snow. What can you tell me about it?
Robert's Snow is an online auction that benefits Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Over 200 children's book illustrators have created art on individual snowflake-shaped wooden templates. My snowflake shows the character from one of my favorite books. The title of this snowflake is "Larue Skating."
I was really fortunate to be able to participate in each of the last two auctions. These are the snowflakes I created in 2004 and 2005.
I think that's it. Thanks again for writing. I hope you get an A on your project.

Mark Teague

If you are interested in bidding on this wonderful Larue snowflake, be sure to follow the link for Auction 3. Don't forget that 100 percent of the proceeds from this online auction will benefit sarcoma research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. While you are there, be sure to view all the snowflakes up for auction. Each and every one is a unique and amazing work of art.

Finally, be sure to check out the other snowflake illustrators being featured today.
**Please Note - At the time the Blogging for the Cure event was organized, not all snowflakes were in the hands of the folks at Dana Farber. As a result, not all of the illustrators were available for selection as part of this effort. This in no way diminishes the work of any of the illustrators that will not be highlighted. It is our hope that these features will encourage readers to visit Robert's Snow and look at ALL the wonderful snowflakes up for auction.



  1. Aw man, A+++++++! That was so fun to read. Excellent! So clever, Tricia.

    And I love that snowflake -- and the older ones, too.

    What a fabulous post. Who doesn't love Mark Teague? Man, he's talented. And I really want to go read that link he included.

    All these illustrator features are so great and so interesting to read (for us Picture Book Nerds) that I think I must sound like a goober or broken record anymore, but I really mean it when I say they're a delight to read.

    Thanks so much, Tricia and Mark. This is so clever I almost can't stand it. I hope everyone sees it!

    Mrs. Danielson (reading and commenting one day early, but I couldn't help myself)

    p.s. -- "I'll bet if I tried hard enough, I could learn everything I needed to know on the Internet and Ms. D. would be none the wiser." -- Nice touch!

  2. Fantastic interview! Mark Teague is one of my favorite current illustrators for children's books. I loved reading through his answers. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Very, very funny ;)
    Haven't you noticed he depicts children as dinosaurs??? (my favorite answer...)

  4. Tricia,

    Great post and interview! I hope Ms. D. gives you an A. You certainly deserve one!

    I'm a big fan of Mark Teague's work. I absolutely love DEAR MRS. LARUE: LETTERS FROM OBEDIENCE SCHOOL! It has humor for kids and adults alike. Love Mark's 2007 snowflake, too. There are so many I want to bid on...I just wish I owned a bank!

    How about them Red Sox, Tricia?

  5. TOO fun! I love Mark Teague's obedience school book! And his snowflakes -- are amazing.

  6. LOL-
    What a fun interview!
    Loved it.
    Charming snowflake too!

  7. Love the ice-skating LaRue!

  8. This is amazing. I hope you get an A+. Well done. Love Mark Teague. And the snowlflake...Larue is smashing.

  9. Well Done!! Thanks for the link on how he works! I especially enjoyed seeing his underpainting, since I work with an underpainting method too. I've never tried one in Burnt Sienna before, I think I'll give it a try.

    Fun stuff!

  10. Very clever workaround! I love Mark Teague (and love his snowflake!) so this was an especially fun read.

  11. What a great post - you gave it a completely new twist! It's fascinating all the work that goes into one of Mark Teague's illustrations - having no artistic bent at all, I never knew he used underpainting. Who knew???

  12. My favorite answer is the one he gave to #7. Dag-um those brilliant editors!

    Larue is utterly charming.

  13. nice "interview," Tricia! I love Mark Teague's work, too--this is great fun!

  14. This deserves A+. What a great job and so much fun to read.

  15. Wonderful and creative. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Just catching up from yesterday. Great post! I read the intro a little too fast, so I had to do some major inferring when I got to the fine print at the bottom. Very clever!

  17. What a charming snowflake! I do love Mark Teague...


  18. Ah, I just love Mark Teague's work, and I'd pay something for that snowflake. As my boss says, if only I could find that money tree! :)