Teaming up for a Cure

Today I'm going a bit off topic. Please bear with me; it's for a good cause. Most of the teams I've worked with were teams assembled in real life. But, through the wonders of technology, today I'm able to participate in a virtual team of bloggers working together to spread the word about an excellent program. Through November, bloggers throughout the kidlitosphere will be featuring some wonderful children's book illustrators as part of the Robert's Snow project.

Today, I feature illustrator Daniel J. Mahoney.

Trained as an x-ray technician, Daniel discovered the wonderful world of picture books one day while shopping for his niece Marissa. While the x-ray gig paid the bills, he felt that creating artwork was his true calling. After trying his hand at cartooning, he decided to pursue the possibility of working as a children’s book illustrator. It worked.

Since then, he has written and illustrated three books for Clarion: The Perfect Clubhouse, A Really Good Snowman, and The Saturday Escape. In addition, he has illustrated several other books for a number of publishers.

Daniel’s Robert’s Snow snowflake depicts a monkey named Alfie with a banana in each hand. He is standing in the grass dotted with flowers against a pink sky. Folks, this snowflake is very cool.

And you won’t even have to work very hard to bid on it. It’s the very first snowflake listed for the first auction (which starts on November 19). Where else can you buy original artwork and contribute to such a good cause, all at the same time? Really; go check it out - I’ll wait.

Okay, you’re back?

Daniel was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, so that I could share them here as part of the Robert’s Snow event. But before I do that, let me just say that generosity abounds throughout the online realm of Robert’s Snow. So, so many illustrators have given of their time and talents to create snowflakes for this fundraiser. But it doesn’t end there. A good number of illustrators – as well as blog hosts – have donated prizes that are being given away throughout the blogosphere.

Daniel J. Mahoney has outdone himself with his generosity today. He’s offered three books for a giveaway today. Three! That means three different winners! Of three different books! And, to top it off, Daniel will autograph each book with his signature and a little drawing. How cool is that? To enter, here’s what you must do. It’s easy. Just go to the Robert’s Snow auction site for auction number one and count how many snowflakes have the word “snow” in their title. Leave your answer in the comments to this post. If you answer correctly, your name goes into the hat to win one of Daniel’s books. I’ll draw for the winner on November 25th.

And now, I give you illustrator Daniel J. Mahoney!

How do you accommodate publisher’s deadlines when you’re not feeling so creative? Or is that ever a problem for an artist?

I have to say I haven’t experienced that problem yet. (knock on wood) Usually by the time I’m faced with a deadline for a project, I’ve already got the creative juices flowing. I’ve already completed the manuscript, the dummy book and all the character sketches, so I know exactly what the little world in my book is going to look like. My creativity is at it’s peak at this point because I have the whole book mapped out and I’m so ready to take the journey it leads me on. Getting published is still the most exciting feeling I have ever experienced, so whenever I am given a new book to create somehow I’m at my artistic best throughout the whole thing!

Do you work on a schedule, or paint and create as the mood strikes?

My schedule is set by my son! Whenever I’m not feeding him, or playing with him, or getting him off to preschool is when I hit the paints. He’s three, and my wife and I both have part-time “real jobs”. So my time is limited for when I can really get into my creative work. I’m the type of person who would LOVE to have a schedule, because that’s the only way I can get things done. Sometimes I paint and create when I don’t even feel like it, because it might be my only opportunity before I have to hit the sandbox again!

What inspires you?

Honestly I have to say other illustrators and their work. There are so many extremely talented artists out there who I just look at and think, “I have to get to the studio!” I become so motivated and inspired to create beautiful work when I see beautiful work.

Tell me about the images on your snowflake and the how/why of getting involved with this project.

Alfie is a character that my 3 year old son Ryan collaborated with me on. One day we were playing in his sandbox, and he says,” Daddy, tell me an Alfie sandbox story.” At first I thought, what are you talking about? Then the children’s book part of my brain spoke up and prompted me to start telling a story about a monkey named Alfie and his adventures in the sandbox. Before I knew it I was improvising daily Alfie stories. I just loved the ring to “Alfie Sandbox Stories”, I just had to come up with a book idea about Alfie and his adventures in the sandbox. The back of the snowflake, however, I have to say I’m not very happy with now that I’ve seen it on the website a few times. It says Alfie Sandbox Stories, coming soon. Not that this was my intention when I created it, but it feels now like I was advertising for a new book I’m working on. I’m sorry if it comes across that way, and I regret doing that and wish I could change it. Sometimes I do things like that and regret them later and say, what was I thinking! Hopefully someone will see it and love it and bid on it. I stumbled upon the Robert’s Snow website one day and was mesmerized by the whole thing. I thought, what a wonderful way for an illustrator to do their part and contribute to such an important cause. I immediately e-mailed the person in charge and asked how I could help. Before I knew it, I was unwrapping a package with a wooden snowflake in it. I thought, what an honor it is to be able to help raise money for cancer research with my art. That they actually want me to illustrate a snowflake alongside all these other big names in the children’s book field is quite an honor in itself. I’m just thrilled I can contribute to this extremely important endeavor.

Since my blog readers are primarily educators and those interested in boosting kids’ creativity, do you have a single suggestion for encouraging kids to get out there and be creative?

Tell them simply that whatever they choose to create, be it an intricate wall mural or a popsicle stick jewelry box, it’s beautiful and special because they created it, and that no one else in the world can create something quite like it.

Note to Blog Readers about Blogging for a Cure (courtesy, Elaine Magliaro): When Jules of 7-Imp put out her call in September for bloggers to interview/feature artists who had created snowflakes for Robert’s Snow 2007 at their blogs, a number of artists had not yet sent in their snowflakes to Dana-Farber. As time was of the essence to get Blogging for a Cure underway, we worked with the list of artists whose snowflakes were already in possession of Dana-Farber. Therefore, not all the participating artists will be featured. This in no way diminishes our appreciation for their contributions to this worthy cause. We hope everyone will understand that once the list of artists was emailed to bloggers and it was determined which bloggers would feature which artists at their blogs, a schedule was organized and sent out so we could get to work on Blogging for a Cure ASAP. Our aim is to raise people’s awareness about Robert’s Snow and to promote the three auctions. We hope our efforts will help to make Robert’s Snow 2007 a resounding success.

And finally (how’s that for the longest post ever?), here are the other illustrator features for today:

2 comments:

Elaine Magliaro said...

Kris,

Thanks for this interview with Daniel Mahoney. Daniel was nice enough to travel all the way from New York to Newburyport, Massachusetts, for the Artists' Open House at the Child at Heart Gallery. It was such a pleasure to meet him and to have an opportunity to get to know another one of the talented Robert's Snow artists. It was nice to read about a father who spends so much time with is son--a son who inspires his writing, too!

By the way, I was outbid on Daniel's 2005 snowflake.

Daniel Mahoney said...

Hi Elaine,

Thanks for your wonderful comments. It was so nice to get to know you as well. I feel so fortunate to be part of such an awesome community of kidlit people. I have to say I always look forward to Poetry Friday on the Bluerosegirls Blog. Your love of poetry is very inspiring!

Daniel