Monday, May 18, 2009

Jacqueline Hassink: Creator of Car Girls

Exhibition of J.H in the Netherlands

"Car Girls" Photography Collection by Jacqueline Hassink

Jacqueline Hassink is the creator of several signature art compilations including: "The Table of Power” published by Menno van de Koppel, (Amsterdam), 1000 copies, February 1996. “Female Power Stations: Queen Bees”, published by Menno van de Koppel Amsterdam, 2200 copies, October 1999. “The Table of Power” (reprint) published by Menno van de Koppel, (Amsterdam), 1500 copies, September 2000. “Mindscapes” published by Birkhäuser Verlag (Basel), 3000 copies, 1 March 2003.“The Power Book", published by Chris Boot Ltd. (London), 3000 copies, October 2007.“Domains of Influence”, published by I.B. Tauris (London), 2000 copies, June 2008.“Quarry Walls”,(New York), 10 copies, July 2008. "Car Girls" (luxury edition), published by Aperture, 1500 copies, April 2009. "Car Girls" (travel edition), published by Aperture, 7500 copies, September 2009. Today she spoke with me about her latest artistic exploration and publication, Car Girls. It is as one writer puts it a “huge economic matrix that is otherwise invisible; the car girls are a visual manifestation of all these marketing and branding strategies…”

What inspired you to create the amazing photo collection, Car Girls?

A major part of my work is about economic power and I started my career with the project The Table of Power in 1993. I photographed board room tables of Europe's largest multinationals. In 2001, I befriended a woman who worked for Fortune Magazine and she said, “If you really want to learn about the Japanese economy, you have to visit the car show in Tokyo.”

Did you immediately start taking pictures there?

No. The difference between a journalist and an artist is an artist only takes a camera with him or her if there is a clear idea. When I first went there I didn’t have my camera. I just watched everything. The car industry at the time was one of the richest and most powerful in the world. The sky was the limit…the way the car girls were dressed, the music…it was such a sight. I was fascinated by these car girls. Every brand had a different type of car girl and that’s how the idea started.

Do you mean a different car meant a different type of woman?

This was like eight years ago. There’s a German brand called Volkswagen and they had this tall, blond, Russian girl and she looked like a prima Donna and she had this sophisticated look and then there was a small SUV kind of jeep/car and they had this Japanese girl with a much too revealing, sort of sexy short shorts…that was an extreme example of the difference between the car girls there.

When you were creating Car Girls did you work exclusively on it?

No. When I make my work I work on three or more projects at the same time. What usually happens is all this information starts to bubble in my head and when I’m on the plane from Tokyo to New York for example a concept might shape. I wait usually two, maybe three more weeks and if the idea is still good it almost feels like I’m falling in love. I get butterflies in my stomach and then maybe three or four months later…I begin to embark on the new project. April 2002 was the first car show I photographed right here in New York.

I read you were surprised at how typical the Car Girls were in the United States compared to other countries.

Yes, it’s fascinating. We have one of the most boring car girls in the world! I’m from Holland and I think the United States is very urgent with TV shows, Hollywood but when you go to a car show in New York, it’s just like an office…the girls are in suits. It’s like Anne Taylor style; they’re nothing modern or contemporary about it. I guess the customers are just looking for what they’re familiar with I think. The woman in the United States are mostly participating in the work force so maybe there are more female customers going to car shows and they don’t accept a woman dressed like (this).

What is your interpretation for the use of a car girl at these car shows?

That feeling of luxury in a normal economy, unlike this recession…a car is the largest asset aside from a house….it’s a style icon that comes with the woman. When a man sees a nice car with this gorgeous girl standing next to it, they think, I can get both. I saw this was common in New York but not in other places. In New York some of the men at the shows tried chatting up the car girls. (Laughing)

Really? Why was that not as common in other parts of the world?

I think it’s the culture. The men here may be more outgoing. Also if you look at the photos most of the time, the car girls standing on these circle platforms and they’re just part of the shows.

Where were the most spectacular car girls?

Geneva…it’s the most important in Europe, all the CEOs go there to give their press conferences, Tokyo, Shanghai…Paris is also very nice.

You also became a car girl to experience what it would be like.

I did this also with my other work, I do a self portrait. For this I got a make up artist and a close friend, a photographer in Frankfurt photographed me as a car girl. I was wearing really high heels and people believed I was a car girl. The problem was just that there are different types of girls I was supposed to be a “sexy girl” so it was difficult for me to be judged in this way. You’re in the limelight and all these guys are checking you out and it’s a very strange feeling…I was only there for 15 minutes. After that I just had to go, I wasn’t comfortable.

Are there any artists that inspire you?

No. I travel extensively. I just see what’s happening around me and that’s my source of inspiration.

Do you have a favorite concept that you prefer researching?

They are all different. The thing is more that people react different, but it’s also very personal, the Car Girls concept is very easy for a broad audience to understand while others like Mindscapes only architects, curators and intellectuals would appreciate.

What are some interpretations of Car Girls that people have come up with?

One is that it’s discrimination against woman. I don’t agree because none of the car girls were unhappy in fact most of them think its fun and it’s an easy way for students to make money…instead of working in a bar till late at night, this is what they do. But then again there are different types of car girls. There are the ones that stand there (sexy girls) and then there is also the woman that is professional and is trained by the car company. She sells the car.

Do you have a specific photo technique?

The camera technique is very simple, for the car girls I use a fast film, for the interiors I use a slower film and I work with a tripod. For the car girls there is a very strong focus where I just walk around and wait for these specific moments, for interiors it’s about getting as much information in the photo as possible.

What is the length of these shows?

Really big shows are limited for the press during the first two days, I go the first and the second day for the press and then the show is opened two weeks after that for the public. Sometimes I go twice like I did in Detroit. If there are not enough photos and I need to take more, I went back to that car show the next year. And in between I was spending a lot of time in the Middle East working on another project Arab Domains.

What else were you working on?

Mrs. Haifa Al Kaylani who has an organization that works with very high profile woman in the Arab world (AIWF) was working on a project and I collaborated with her. So I met about 36 Arab women from 18 different countries…I was in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt and all the countries in the middle east…the book came out in the summer of 2008, it was launched in Dubai and was presented….Domain of Influence.

Your book also points out the similarities and differences of uniformity of trends or lack of, depending on the car company….

When I was at the car show in Tokyo I saw a “Volkswagen girl,” the ballerina type, and then I wanted to see how a “Volkswagen girl” looked in Shanghai, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Detroit and New York. The Ferrari girl for example almost always looks the same but if you look at other car brands, another guy in Paris visiting the car girl is looking for a different type of girl and when their eyes fall on a certain girl they want to see more and this is what the shows do on a global scale. I was also interested in how they do this marketing on a smaller scale.

Speak about the music.

It’s like lounge, feel-good music, never aggressive. If you go to my website, that’s the type of music you’d hear. The booth of a Mercedes Benz for example is the same everywhere you go. They want to get you to feel good with the beautiful woman, the contemporary music; it’s like if you go to a W hotel.

And the car girls, how did they feel about being photographed?

They opened up because there were very few female photographers; they were quite friendly all over the world.

What did you discover?

They were doing their thing. Whenever some one took their picture, they would pose. But with me I tried to find these other moments where they were immersed in their work and not really thinking about the camera. I tried to capture them underneath this theatrical façade.

What made you decide to finish this project?

When I spoke with Aperture, we began to print it in China…Irma Boom was very important in the compilation of this book, she created the design of the book. There was a deadline and by then I had enough material to begin to publish the work. There were many people involved in its final creation.

Your work takes on a very unique approach in analyzing the economy and the idea of power. I look forward to further exploring your work and looking at your other publications to compare the different approaches you took to embody this

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Interview with Anders Bramsen

undated photo: Chelsea Hotel Production Crew

film stills

the artist immersed in his work

ponders inspiration

the filming of the magnificant "Chelsea Hotel" NY's Historical Stomping Ground

The Unique Creations by: Anders Bramsen

Anders Bramsen's films demonstrate an individual artist who sets himself apart and does his own thing. Like Diane Arbus, (visionary photography artist) he gives the outsider only a speck of what he sees and leaves the rest up to the critics to interpret in multiple ways. From viewing clips (from his editorial work) "Chelsea Hotel" directed by Abel Ferrara to (his own) Dennis Hopper (Retrospective) film collage, I became quite interested to learn more. I hope to see his completed film, "The Gold Fish Doesn't See The Bowl" soon at the Indie Film Festivals next year earn its rightful recognition.

What do you do?

I write, direct, edit and produce my own films.

Have you ever worked with any famous people?

Maybe, but I try not to namedrop.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve been focusing mostly on the writing of two screenplays THE GOLDFISH DOESN'T SEE THE BOWL and LAST BOAT TO AMERICA but I’m always editing film and video projects.

What is your genre?

Neo-Noir I suppose. With a hint of middle-class realism…I think…

Sounds like John Steinbeck, are you a John Steinbeck fan?

John Steinbeck? Is he a filmmaker?

No, a writer.

Oh, I love Ingmar Bergman, his focus is the psychology of man…it’s extremely fascinating. The human condition was his specialty.

Did you go to school for this (directing)?

I guess I did a little bit but I don’t feel like mentioning any names…you mean as far as schools I’ve gone to? That’s boring. I mean I’ve learned from all the teachers I’ve had but I've always learned much more by doing…making tons of mistakes, it’s the best way of learning I think.

Where are you originally from?

I’m from The Unified Field, as modern scientists would say!

How long were you here?

On and of since 2003...I go back several times a year. I love to go back for work or to visit everybody. I’m still very Danish. I love Denmark and my roots. of the only countries that tried to help the Jews during the Holocaust.

I don’t know if we were the only one. But it’s true the Danes did a lot to help. If you do the research…I think we saved 95% of the Jews there during the war - we got them over to Sweden on boats. It was quite extraordinary. We tried to save everyone! And it’s wonderful being in New York and being around so many Jewish people here…people actually thank me. We know about it in Denmark but it’s different when you’re here and Jewish people thank you. When you think about it… My grandparents helped these people survive. I have many Jewish friends in New York and I’m so glad about this…

Have you ever been to a Jewish museum there?

I know there is one in Israel…they have an actual boat that took people over. The boats weren’t that big. There is a Jewish comic who I think is a powerful example, he was the most famous Danish Holocaust survivor…Victor Borge…Why are we talking about the Holocaust?

As an artist, do you have a set schedule?

Not really. I guess my independence is the most important to me. I’m pretty much my own man…but I always work with certain people like Pacific Street Films.

Did you get grants to come here?

No I came here with only two hundred dollars and a film (Liden Tid- screened at the Brooklyn international film festival in 2004- it screened at the Brooklyn museum- Google LIDEN TID for more info) under my arm…it was pretty hard coming here to New York. Lately, I’ve matured in terms of being able to ask for help… I have been applying for grants. Now, I feel more entitled to ask for help because I know I’ve done a lot of the hard work myself. Now would be a good time to do it.

What about the recession, do you think it’s making it more difficult for
independent artists like yourself to survive?

You know what, I really don’t have an idea. But I think that maybe…I think there are still people out there with trust funds or, you know? I still don’t think it’s a bad card to play. I don’t know if it has any influence, good or bad.

Do you know that famous writer, Flannery O’Connor?

No, why?

She was in your situation and got a lot of grants and eventually made it as a writer, I just love her, she wrote the eerie short story, “Good County People.” Who are your influences?

I have so many hero’s……Bergman I guess or Terrence Malick's two films from the 70’s: Badlands and Days of Heaven. I think it’s important to project real life in film and the mysteries of our selves…whatever doesn’t make sense…film can be such a beautiful window. It’s a way of getting out of yourself and then gets back into the self. I think it’s a wonderful art form. If you have something on your mind and you want to express it through film, well then it’s just vast. It’s still a very new art form….it’s still early…only a hundred years old. Not like painting, which we’ve been practicing for 8000 years…don’t know where I’m going with this…

I never thought of it like that before. You’re right; it definitely is an art form. So, aside from film, are there other types of art you enjoy?

I have been doing fine art painting long before this.

What do you paint?

I want to say um…abstract expressionism…you can call it neo-neo expressionism. If there is such a thing? A few years ago I painted a series of paintings. It was so nice working with canvases again.

What’s the series about?

My new formats are very horizontal…it’s almost like they’re favoring plainness and because my earlier works were more action I’m now trying to strive away from that…I got tired of that, tired of the chaos and confusion.

That reminds me of what Picasso did.


You know at first he was very detailed and then he got so simple. Are they untitled?

Some are. Others have titles such as “Black Band on canvas" because there is a black band on the canvas. Most of my earlier canvases were all titled and it had to do with my mood or the mood of the painting, or something that inspired me. However, later when I became better at what I was doing, I began to simplify my titles while at other times, I don't title my work at all...sometimes I just don’t find it necessary.

Ever been to the Guggenheim here in NY?

Many times, I was first there in 1988 as a 14-year-old boy-it did a huge impression on me! Last year I played a museum visitor in Tom Tykwer’s movie The International. It starred Clive Owen, Naomi Watts and my fellow countryman Ulrich Thomsen as the bad guy-villain.

OMG! How cool.

I was only on set that one day but yeah it was cool.

What is your next project?

It’s a movie I call, “The Goldfish Doesn’t See The Bowl” which will include archival footage from when I was young. I am writing several grants to complete it at the moment. My project envisions is a film universe in which odd personalities operate in indefinable patterns; a world in which philosophical questions are displayed in a series of grotesque vignettes. The picture also strives for a unique visual aesthetic. My goal is to create small episodes questioning faith, doubt and the meaning of life.


My project envisions a film universe in which odd personalities operate in indefinable patterns; a world in which philosophical questions are posed to the viewer in a series of grotesque vignettes. The piece also strives for a unique visual aesthetic. I wish to build a bridge to the audience’s senses and spirits,thus melding the message (an exploration of the breadth of art in our time and culture) with the manner in which the story is told. THE GOLDFISH DOESN'T SEE THE BOWL is a barrier-breaking exploration of the human condition, merging performance art, painting, photography and film language.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bill Armstrong: The Artist's Artist--My Interview with one of New York's Greats

This innovative artist has had numerous solo exhibitions all over the world, his work is in the collections of the Addison Gallery of American Art, Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Brooklyn Museum, Centro Internazionale, De Cordova Museum, Fogg Art Museum, Lehigh University Art Galleries, Musee De l'Elysee (Switzerland) and in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston to name a few. His work continues to be published yearly in books and magazines and he is the recipient of art awards that include an Acquisition Award, Fine Art Honorable Mention, Purchase Prize and Best in Show. His work recently displayed at the Aperture Art Gallery in Chelsea, New York where his "Mandela" piece was published on the cover of a collective abstract art book.It was an honor to meet with him to discuss some of his work.

Nice to meet you Bill, I love your work! This is so exciting. I have some questions about some of your series.

Okay, ask away.

What do the Mandela images signify?

They are based on Buddhist or Hindu paintings.

And the Apparition series, what inspired you?

They were taken from Roman sculptures.

Was it your intention for people to be able to recognize them?

No, they're kind of ghosts of the Romans, appearing now to remind us what happened to them.

What camera technique do you use?

Film, medium format camera, shot up very close with the focusing ring set at infinity to achieve blur...

(fascinated) Why the blur?

It de-materializes things and makes them ephemeral. Also, my work is made from collages, and extreme defocusing makes the seams of the collages disappear so the image appears to be from the real world—that’s the magic that makes it all work.

Tell me more about the Renaissance series.

They are made from Renaissance drawings. They are meant to represent different aspects of the human condition—some are free, floating or flying and others are bound or struggling. The colors tend to be more pastels than my prior work.

And the figures?

Those were some of the first ones; they are cut out pictures from fashion magazines. They represent ghost figures, perhaps from a parallel universe...they are about identity, everyman but no man, featureless but individual.

And these beautiful Mandalas?

They are collages made from colored paper. Like Buddhist paintings, they are meditative pieces, referencing spirituality.

Do you have a favorite?

No, I like them all.

Recent recognition?

My work appeared in the New Yorker last year. I currently have an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

What's the business aspect in the Art world like?

I became an artist because I didn't want to be in business, but it turns out that being an artist you also have to be a businessman. You have to do everything yourself—production, marketing, accounting etc. I teach part time because it’s pretty difficult to live from print sales—especially now.

And how long have you worked as an artist?

Over thirty years. I started these blurred images ten years ago, but before that I worked with graffiti and torn posters.

Would you be considered one of the more well-known artists out there?

No. I’m fairly well-known in the Photography world, but not necessarily in the Art world...not yet, anyway.

I always tend to ask the celebrity question, has any famous person ever approached you?

Martha Stewart commissioned me to do a blurred picture of an abstraction of a wine rack.

What artist would you consider to be an inspiration, what is one of the greats (to you)?

Robert Rauschenburg was a big work isn't like his but it's about collage, so it’s similar in a way. I would consider him to be about the most important artist of the second part of the century.

Talk a little about your Kama Sutra collection from your archive. Looking at it, unless you see the title, you would have no idea it is what it is.

That's true. Even if you know what it is, you don't really see it. There's a difference between what the mind thinks and what it actually sees. So it’s more conceptual than the other work, in a way. In the blue one (from same collection), the person depicted is a courtesan preparing to meet someone, and there's something very lonely about it. I’d like to do more of those.

Each photo brings the viewer to so many different worlds, it's really quite unique.

Thank you.

I'm going to keep an eye out for your work during my future visits to museums and educate my students about your work; many of them are extremely interested in art.

Capture the Beauty and Essence: check out this artist's current exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and learn more by going to his webpage by clicking on image above (top left corner). All displayed art is courtesy of Bill Armstrong. Not intended for Duplication, copy, or use for public unless permission is granted by artist.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Josephine Kenny: Aspiring Artist (Ireland)

the meadow
Rosses Point
the cottage
rock of ireland
the metal kettle
Sunflower (Acrylic: 450 Euro-sold @ Solas)
sail boats on slate
red flowers
flowers in bloom

a family of ducks
irish daisies

a close up of the butterfly painting
chirping birds (Acrylic: 245 Euro @Solas)

I recently spent the day with Josephine Kenny where I became privvy to her undeniably tranquil paintings. She spoke with me about her use of vibrant colours, the importance of art therapy and her current pieces that can be found in her art studios and at local galleries. Owning an original Josephine Kenny became a goal during this interview...I believe in no time her work will invariably become world known.

You recently returned to painting?

I came home from Dublin to care for my ailing mother. It wasn't until I completed a series of black and white sketches (predominately still life) that someone took notice (her sister) that I decided to take it to the next level. These early sketches were of my home life in Leitrim; my fathers' possessions-his shaving gear for example, burning candles, books...

What is your approach to art?

I see a painting in my mind before I start and it stays there for days...I get excited about how I will approach it (new muse). Lately I take my digital camera along with me..the on-the-spot shots I have captured are simply amazing.

When do you get inspired to create?

When I'm walking my dog, Holly actually. I am forever looking in the hedges and tall trees to examine their different foliage, sprigs and berries to examine them more closely at home to get my inspiration to begin a new project. I've just moved to the country after living in the city of Dublin for many years and there you just don't see this.

So now, it's like you're rediscovering these things?

Yes, as if I'm noticing their essence for the very first time.

Aside from your home place of Leitrim, where else do you feed your creativity?

I visit the Irish beaches often: Rosses Point in Sligo or Portmarnock in Dublin. I just walk along and find seaweed, lovely shells and stones and imagine painting and sketching them. I love this time of year; the falling of the leaves and the sunlight that shines through the rustic and ever changing colours!

When you are immersed in the act of art, are there any typical thoughts and feelings you experience?

Feelings of freedom and contentment...I typically have a personal attachment to whatever it is I am painting at the moment and people often recognize this by my mood. And when I am painting outside I am much more free to express myself...

What do you enjoy painting mostly?

I love strong bright colours to splash around. I love depicting the country in my work: cows, dogs, sheep, birds, squirrels, and flowers...the country in my youth. I appreciate the wonder of Gods' creations all around me and its beauty.

Aside from painting, where else can one find your stylistic impressions?

At Christmastime I make decorations: wreathes and ornaments to share with family and friends made from natural material that I find in my garden and out on my walks. I am a qualified florist from Kays School of Floristry in Dublin. I also paint on slates, walls, and stones amongst other things...

I love this rock, it's beautiful! Are there any artists you aspire to?

Vincent himself. I actually love yellows and reds...I love cheerful-strong colours...I've painted many sunflowers also (displayed). I recall selling a similar one to a gentleman from Galway that had been rejected at a gallery. It was sentimental to me because it was painted just after my mothers' passing.

What education have you received in the arts?

I was the only student who chose art honours for my leaving cert. Upon graduation I was going to continue to study art at a college in Sligo but instead I took a job at Eirecom...I've returned after a long absence. At this stage of my life, I'm taking a big risk...

Is it worth it?

I think so. I'm happy. I am fulfilling my passion and my art has helped me overcome the loss of my mother. I am going with my gut feeling...I sort of envy myself for this. I think it's so important for one to have a pastime, a passion to fall back on in trying times. Whenever I see my work displayed in galleries, I am happy, cheerful...

Is art a talent or a skill?'s both! For me it can be hard to start but once I start it's hard to stop...

You have a very well know neighbor?

Yes, the famous writer, John McGahern. I've just read his memoir...very good...depressing but good. He really had a tough life. In a way, his bravery, his writing...has led other local artists to take risks. I painted a picture of his book. It was one of my earlier sketches from my original collection of black and white sketches.

Where can one buy one of your breathtaking paintings?

I am selling some of my paintings at Solas Art Gallary in Ballinamore. My paintings have been sold at The Book Shop in Carrick-on-Shannon and at Taylors. You can always email me also: or

Wonderful! Thank you so much for showing me your art studios, I love everything you do!

Thank you.

(The Solas Gallery is a new artist-led gallery space in Ballinamore which officially opened on Friday 20th July. The new gallery is a partnership led initiative between Leitrim County Council Arts Office, Four Seasons Flower Shop and artists from Ballinamore/South Leitrim and is funded by Leitrim County Council Arts Office and The Arts Council.)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Jim Hoover: Art Director at Viking Books Children's Book Publishing

Several years ago (2000 actually) I met Jim when I was on my way to my friend Sean's house. Unbeknownst to me, Jim had moved in with Sean only days before. I approached the two boys, said hello to Sean and introduced myself to Jim. Neither of them said a word to me, they were just sadly standing there. Sean finally said the apartment had burned down within the last hour. I offered Sean and his girlfriend and his unfortunate new roommate digs for the night and even helped dig a hole in a park to bury their cat who perished in the fire. It was truly one of the worst days ever, but Jim became one of my best friends. Since 2000, he has always wanted to work for Viking and now he does just that! Even though, he and his fiance moved to Brooklyn, we stay in touch. He was more than willing to share his job experiences at one of the finest children's book publishing companies in the world...and check out the above picture of him in the midst of his work, so zen.

What is your occupation? I know but just tell me again.

I am an art director at Viking books.

And exactly how long have you worked there Jim?

I've been here four, no wait, five years, before that I was at Puffin for three...

What are some precious titles I as a future mommy and current teacher should be aware of that your company provides?

From Shreik to Al Gore's An Inconvenient an award winning John Lennon Biography and countless other books in between...Jon Scieszka...

Who's that?

Wrote "Stinky Cheese Man" Duh! And he recently became the first children's book ambassador! And we just did a cover with Gary Taxali, another great children's book illustrator, and Aimee Mann's album cover...

So Cool Jim! I want to work for Viking! What current project they got you working on?

An Apollo 12 book with Astronaut Alan Bean (see picture of book above), the fourth man to walk on the moon.

Did you ever meet him?

No, lives in Texas, we spoke on the phone a few times (bragging a little bit), he lives in Houston, really nice guy.

Um, I see you met Amy Sedacas, did that have to do with your job?

No, we met at a Barnes and Noble book signing, I just love her!

I do too, I want to buy her new book-she's great. Al Gore?

Didn't get to meet him either, he did email me once though (laughing).

Really? Where is it? Did you frame that? I would have framed that!

Ah, no..I think I still have the link somewhere though, he just wrote something quick like, "looks good to me," that was about my only interaction with the former vice president.

Email him hello for me! (being very serious) When you helped create the book, "In the Middle" what was it like rehashing those middle school years?Jim:(Sighing)

Awful, just awful...terribly painful...

(Laughing) Really? Why?

Well back then...and everyone included in the book fits within the same ball park...had similar experiences, we were so mean to each other! I mean vicious!

You were mean in middle school?

Yeah, I think everyone was! That's just the way it went...if you go back and think about it...

No thanks. you treated an easy target, picking on those less than you, just to make yourself feel better about yourself, I did it, sorry to report.

I really loved not only the words you wrote in this book but I absolutely loved all your amazing illustrations, what other books have you illustrated for?

I hire illustrators and work closely with them to finalize/design covers.

But not illustrate?

When I was young I thought being the illustrator was the be-all-end-all, not so much anymore. Now, I like the collaboration, working with others to create it (the hundreds of covers). I do art for me, the publication of my illustrations lost its luster. I've helped in the publication of so many books, it doesn't matter so much any more.

Favorite author?

Favorite author or Favorite artist?


Umm, who is my favorite artist(long pause, that's like asking who is my favorite author) Peter Sis, Lane Smith...


They are both...see their work and my jaw drops illustrators. I've actually worked with Peter Sis, he's my hero!

Growing up, did you have a favorite children's book as a child, that question sounds weird, do you know what I mean though?

Yea, so many, so so many..."The Story of Ferdiand" which was actually published by Viking also in the 1930s and knocked "Gone with the Wind" off the top selling book list!

Describe the plot a little bit, I'm unfamiliar.

Seriously? It's one of the most famous books! About a very peaceful bull who just wants to lay in the shade...

Is there some kind of political message?

(laughing) No, the lesson is more about what happens, the Maditators want to fight the fiercest bull and one day they see him react violently after getting a bee sting and get him into the ring where he just smells flowers thrown into the ring but doesn't fight, it's just not him...

So the moral of the story?

You may think a big bull like him should be tough, but he's quite the opposite, never judge...sometimes bulls just want to lay about beneath a Cork tree (sounding like he's teaching a preschool class the meaning of the book).

Cork tree, did the story take place in Ireland or something?

No, Spain actually.

What's one of your favorite covers you assisted with?

An Inconvenient Truth.

An Inconvenient Truth? Isn't that an adult book?

We did the children's version of it...


Oh, we also did a John Lennon Biography, children's version. A non-fiction, biography but also we tried to paint an actual portrayal of his essence, of the person, the factual stuff is all correct but we tried to really capture who John was.

Sounds like he was your favorite Beatle?

He was. Different reasons, I like the transformation from muddy rascal to sincere leader of peace, really interesting to see...he was by far the more interesting Beatle to me...he could be a real jokester even when he met Yoko, he maintained that rascal side to him, when you're doing a biography book like that, where a character has character flaws or contradicts themselves...this makes good literature.

I agree, I love dynamic characters!

I like Paul the least...

Many fans from the 60s would shoot you for that!

They're wrong. Ringo was John's favorite, always pop culture, neighborhood kid, George was thoughtful...

Did you get any assistance from them when you and your company created this book?

Paul was no help at all whereas Yoko was surprisingly helpful and gracious. Ironically, we did Paul's book (Paul created his own children's book around the same time) and even though there was a lot of promotion, it tanked.

When you're not creating wonderful children's books, probably the most important thing one could do for today's youth when you think about it, what else do you do?

As far as art is concerned, I still do a lot of figure drawing, there's places everywhere in the city. They even got places now in the city where they have a bar, so when you get tired or need a break, you can relax and have a drink...and chill out.

Do you consider it an intimate experience?

Absolutely, it is in that you're capturing someones mannerisms, their physicality, usually when I draw, I let my mind wander, you almost channel between the eye and the's very zen.

Tell me more about Viking.

It just celebrated its 75Th year anniversary, big party, lots of good wine, everyone hung out and had a nice evening.

You seem so happy Jim!

Viking has really maintained itself, has more awards for its illustrators and literary authors then other imprints can boast about, has an incredible back list (from years ago that still stay in print).

That's very amazing for books these days!

Like movies that teeter off after a few weeks, so like books. Most books do well the first few
weeks, then within a few years, they're out of print, not so with Viking.

Keep reprinting! Even in this recession, things with the stock market, everything is crumbling...

It stays steady every year and reprints books like "The Outsiders" by S.E Hinton, "Corduroy Books", "Madeline,"" Make Way for Ducklings,"" The Story of Ping," "Whistle for Willy"...all the greats.

Do you get a great satisfaction knowing your skill/trade/job occupation
whatever is transforming the minds of our youth in a positive way?

First, I love it when good children's books get good reviews, and it really does my heart well to see a kid enjoying a book we at Viking created. My best friend's kid (I gave him one of our books, "Red Truck") memorized a book I helped art direct, to see each stage, each page, and then to see how the child reacts and you see how this book is going to be a book, it's great, hey, my boss is on the other line, chat soon?

Okay, bye Jim! I know where to buy books for my young family members now, keep the recommendations coming!