5 Incredibly Talented Children’s Book Illustrators You’ll Love
by Troy D. Johnson, Founder and Webmaster of AALBC.com
For children’s picture books, art sells the book. When an adult is in a store browsing books to be read to a child, the art is what initially gets the shopper’s attention. Once they flip through the pages, the art is as important as the text in getting the customer to buy the book.
Children, too young to read, are moved by the art. Great artwork communicates in ways mere words cannot. I vividly recall the first time seeing the book, A Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. As a little boy, I was excited upon seeing another little boy about my age in an urban setting who looked like me! Art is powerful. The importance of seeing yourself reflected in the art should not be understated.
We are witnessing, perhaps, the greatest period for books featuring Black children. The picture books available today are fantastic, reflecting a deep and diverse level of talent in illustration, painting, drawing, and mixed media.
Here are five talented artists producing wonderful books for children today. Enjoy!
Nelson’s photorealistic images are simply awe inspiring. He creates characters that express profound emotion, joy, strength, fortitude, and resilience. They grab you on a visceral level, then inspire you.
Vashti Harrison is a brilliant artist and the youngest of this group. However, her creativity and talent put her on par with the best of the bunch. Her use of light, and the absence of it, in her book Sulwe, is a testament to her skill as an artist.
Steptoe uses a variety of media to create images for children’s picture books. His daring and creative use of “found” objects makes his images quite unique in the world of picture books.
Nostalgic and beautiful, Cooper’s images gracefully depict the characters he creates. Cooper has illustrated dozens of picture books over his long career and is showing no signs of letting up.
Minter is a painter and illustrator whose work has been exhibited domestically and abroad. He is the illustrator of a dozen books for children and uses contrasting colors to produce visually appealing images.
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Troy D. Johnson is the founder and webmaster of AALBC.com (the African American Literature Book Club). Launched in March of 1998, AALBC.com is now the oldest, largest, and most frequently visited website dedicated to books by or about people of African descent.
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