Children’s Book Review: Meet the Illustrator: Forrest Dickison

Name: forest dickison

Describe your illustration style in ten words or less.
Bill Peet meets NC Wyeth meets Looney Tunes.

What elements are an essential part of your creative space?
My library! The more books, the better.

Do you have a favorite artistic medium?
I love the old-school earthiness of pencils and gouache, the versatility of a Wacom, and the buttery flow of oil paint.

Name three artists whose work inspires you.
Herge, Georges Beauville, and Edgar Payne.

What artistic period would you like to visit and why?
I would love to revisit the early days of Disney when the Nine Old Men were inventing the art form of animation as we know it today. Seeing them reshape the collective artistic imagination of Planet Earth would be something else. This would also be a convenient time to stop by Edgar Payne’s studio and talk about color theory.

Who or what inspired you to become an illustrator?
I grew up reading Tintin, Asterix and Calvin and Hobbes. I was fascinated by those worlds and characters that came to life through lines and shapes. I’ve been imitating ever since.

Can you share a photo of your creative workspace or part of the area where you work most often? Tell us about it.
My current studio is on the second floor of my house. Just outside the frame to my left is a window that looks out into the backyard. When I need a break from art, I can watch my daughters playing, the plants growing, and the chickens cooking. Everything is gloriously ordinary. The corkboard on my desk is littered with doodles and notes from various projects currently under construction. The drawing of Jafar above my head is by Andreas Deja. It was an impulse buy on CTNX several years ago and is the closest it has come to being framed and hanging on the wall. Maybe next year. My easel and overflowing bookshelves are set up behind the camera. All things considered, it’s a great place to take photos.

What is your favorite part of the illustration process?
I love the early stages of the process, the part that involves venturing into the vast unknown world of a blank sheet of paper, armed with nothing more than a pencil and my imagination. The more I illustrate, the more I feel like an explorer or an archaeologist digging through the earth looking for things that existed long before I was born. Finding them is exciting. Arranging them for the presentation is still fun, but a different kind of fun.

What advice would you give an aspiring illustrator?
Dead artists are the best teachers. It’s easy for students to confuse artistic trends with fundamentals. Copying illustrators and artists whose work has stood the test of time is the quickest way to develop good habits.

Forrest Dickison is the award-winning illustrator of Hello Ninja, which was recently made into a Netflix original series. When he’s not illustrating books or working on animated shows, Forrest can be found outdoors, chasing the light (and the clouds) with a brush and some paint.

For more information, visit Forrest’s website.

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