Kevin Hawkes writes, “Growing up, I never thought I’d be an artist, I just loved to draw and paint. I drew just about everything I could think of: ships, castles, racecars, monsters and sharks. Art class was my favorite. When I was five, my family lived in central France and many of my childhood memories seem to find their way into my work: cobblestone streets, marshes and woods, grassy hills and Mediterranean skies.
“My mother and father loved books. Mom was always reading bedtime stories and Dad entertained us (often from the driver’s seat of a white rambler station wagon) with stories of dragons and giants. Some of my favorite books are James and the Giant Peach, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Secret Garden, and all of the Freddy the Pig books.
“In college I signed up for history and science. I took a few art classes too but nothing seemed to grab my attention. Then a friend suggested I take an illustration course. When I saw the art of N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parrish and many other great illustrators, I knew I was hooked. Although my work is often described as off-beat and quirky, I also have a love for traditional painting. Some of my favorite artists are Vermeer, Bouguereau, Caravaggio, and Sargent.
“After college, my first art job was working as an assistant animator producing cartoons for Saturday-morning television. I was horrible! I had my own style and could never make it work with those cartoon characters. After three months I got a new job as a photographic retoucher. It was a good job because I learned how to do fine details in a realistic way. When my wife, Karen and I moved to Boston, I ended up in a bookstore working in the children’s section. For two years I read picture books on every lunch break, studying the artwork. I began to get an idea of what books were really out there and in the evenings I started developing my own style of work. One day, with a portfolio filled with my favorite pieces, I set off on a train to New York to see a publisher about doing my own books. After a few tries, I got the contract for my first book, Then the Troll Heard the Squeak (HarperCollins), and have been illustrating picture books ever since. Now I keep busy doing picture books, chapter books, book jackets, and various art-related projects. When I get the chance I enjoy landscape painting, especially at Acadia National Park. I also like to putter in my garden, and go hiking and camping with my wife and children.
I love to visit children in schools and to share my books with them. I once gave a presentation to a group of kindergarten children. Just before a reading of Lady Bugatti (HarperCollins), one little boy in the front row blurted out, “This looks like a weird book, but I think I’m ready for it!” I enjoy creating books, especially new worlds for children to explore.
Learn more KevinHawkes.com.
More Books by Kevin Hawkes
A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea, written by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster)
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, written by Anne Isaacs (Schwartz & Wade)
Chicken Cheeks, written by Michael Ian Black (Simon & Schuster)
The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum, written by Katherine Krull (Knopf)
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, written by Kathryn Lasky (Little Brown Books)
Weslandia, written by Paul Fleischman (Candlewick)
Sidewalk Circus, written by Paul Fleischman (Candlewick)
Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly, written by Alan Madison (Random House)
The Wicked Big Toddlah (Random House)
Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudsen (Candlewick Press)
Me, All Alone at the End of the World, written by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick Press)