Guest Artist: Author Illustrator Aaron Zenz
Kid Character Creators: Lily Zenz (age 14), Elijah Zenz (age 11), Evie Zenz (age 9)
Welcome to Results Day!
We have been celebrating West Michigan children's book Author Illustrator Aaron Zenz all week! He has illustrated 33 children's books and 9 are picture books he has written & illustrated. They include I Love Ewe:An Ode to Animal Moms, Chuckling Ducklings and Baby Animal Friends, Monsters Go Night-Night, The Hiccupotamus along with many, many more. We enjoyed learning more about Aaron from his father daughter clip titled 6 Questions in 6 minutes for Claire's Day to the ArtPrize installation "Rock Around" he made with his kids. Aaron's work is wildly fun and full of energy. He has been a joy to feature (he also has 12 bookcases filled with nearly 5,000 picture books!). We are grateful for his highly creative contribution here which includes an interview at the very end.
In addition to Aaron's designs, his kids Lily, Elijah & Evie created characters for us as well. Thank you kids!
And here we go...first a look at the before and after shapes...
now zooming in...
Amazing, right? Now for the equally amazing Zenz kids...
Great job Team Z! We love them all!
Who was your favorite book character as a child and why?
When I was a kid, my favorite books were Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain. I lived in those books, breathed them, dreamed them, started writing like them. I don't know if I had a favorite character, but I loved Taran, Fflewddur Fflam, and Llonio in particular. And you've got to love Gurgi.
Which character in your books was the most fun bringing to life and why?
In my book Monsters Go Night-Night, all seven monster characters were based on drawings my son Elijah had made when he was 4 and 5 years old. It was great fun to use his drawings as a starting place and to put my own spin on them.
Where do you find the most inspiration for your characters?
When designing the look of a character, I do a lot of research, observation, and doodling. When I got the assignment to illustrate a series of books about a little Bichon Frise puppy, my first step was to spend an entire day at the library with a tower of Bichon books. I made hundreds of little drawings, dog after dog, pose after pose, trying to figure out what exactly makes a Bichon "Bichon-y."
When I set out to illustrate a book about orangutans, I spent days google-image-searching orangutans, analyzing how God put them together, trying to figure out how to simplify the forms.
Which BLOB inspired you the most and why?
I loved the one that turned into the screaming opossum :) Of my four blob-doodles, it has the most extreme expression and I like that -- I like how the shape pushed me further than I might have normally gone.
Thank you Aaron, Lily, Elijah & Evie for being our special 100th Post Guests!