A quick chat with..Jerry Craft
The Conversations Series creates a positive image for young girls to refer to by having conversations with different writers, entrepreneurs, and creators. Here, we are catching up with Jerry Craft, an author and illustrator who has written and illustrated an award-winning book called New Kid, including Jerry's new book School Trip.
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School Trip is your new award-winning book. Can you share the inspiration behind it?
When I graduated from college, my dad took me to the Bahamas to celebrate. It was my first time leaving the country, and his first time on a plane, even though he was in his 70s. We went to a different country every year for the next 20 years. We loved it! I try to do the same for my sons, so when I thought about the concept of School Trip, I took them to Paris so that I could see it through their eyes. But for many of my friends, growing up, travelling out of the country was almost unheard of. Especially since many of them had never left the state.
I just wanted to show my readers that there is a big world out there and they are an important part of it. Maybe if they see Jordan, Drew, and Liam going to Paris, it may spark their desire to want to see the world as well.
When did you discover your love for art? What was that experience like?
I never remember a time in my life when I did not want to draw. When I was a kid, my brother was a Marine stationed in Okinawa. I remember going to the movies and drawing a cartoon summary to send to him. From there, I started to design my own comic books. And the rest, as they say, it’s history.
What mediums do you create your work in?
I do almost all of my work on a Wacom tablet with Adobe Photoshop
How would you describe your illustration style?
Semi -realistic cartoony. It is a light and friendly style, but all the ways of how a character relates to their surroundings in real life, such as movement, light, and gravity, are pretty realistic.
Describe your creative space. And why is it special to you?
It is my fortress of solitude. In August I moved to a bigger studio which is lit well. I filled it with books and toys. I proudly display the awards that I have won. And I have various drawings from kids that I have received over the years. It has a constant reminder of why I do what I do.
Who inspires you, and why?
I love talking to other artists and writers. It has a constant exchange of ideas. I especially like the ones who push me to be better. My buddy Eric Velasquez is one of those guys. Kwame Alexander is kind of okay, too. Sort of. So is Jeff Kinney. :)
About the author
JERRY CRAFT is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the graphic novels New Kid and Class Act. New Kid is the only book in history to win the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature (2020); the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers’ Literature (2019), and the Coretta Scott King Author Award for the most outstanding work by an African American writer (2020). Jerry was born in Harlem and grew up in the Washington Heights section of New York City.