Really interesting video with Peter Fowler who has his hands in various artistic disciplines.
This painting is from a children’s book without a home yet. It’s called Emma and Digger. It started out as a sand crab adventure story, yet I fear that since Emma and Digger don’t exactly look like sand crabs that perhaps they should just be little beach creatures and call it a day. I’ve gotten feedback that these are insects or sand crabs don’t look like that.
If you’re working on your own projects I’m sure this has happened to you. You get excited about the work and suddenly after the fact you realize you’ve done something that doesn’t make sense…or does it?
I think sometimes people cannot let go of what their perceptions are to see the bigger picture. Here it’s about losing family and friends and creating your own life and completing the cycle. Not about whether Emma and Digger are sand crabs, insects or from outer space. Thoughts??
This is what I worked on this week. It’s an illustration from my upcoming book about imagination.It’s not done but it’s close enough to show. It started as a sketch of three kids modeled after my daughter’s kids and blossomed into what it is now.
I ask the question of you like I ask the question of myself. What have I done this week, this day, etc Most of the time we are on auto-pilot and don’t think too much about what we’re doing. We have house chores, bills to pay, assignments to complete, kids to take care of etc. The thought of having another goal or task is overwhelming, especially a personal goal. So those goals like I’m gonna write a children’s book or create a painting seems like it can wait.However taking it in small does you can accomplish a lot. That’s how I approached this art and all the other projects I set for myself.
Keep up the good work, watch for the Spring Edition of the Journal and much more to come!
“The most enriching rewards for creative endeavor are intrinsic; that is, the reward is in the pleasure the creator takes in doing the work itself, and in achieving the result, and not from the pay or the prize.” – Jane Piirto
Monday Morning is here again and here’s some food for thought to start your day. If you’re creative and you enjoy doing whatever fuels the creativity do it. Don’t worry about how good you are or whether you’ll get rewarded for your work. That is not the point. It’s taken me a long time to realize I am driven to create. Though I’ve tried to suppress this urge and do things that are “more practical” in terms of making a living or creating wealth, I cannot hide from the fact I need to create. So I embrace the beast. I don’t try and tame it, rather I am riding it and enjoying the journey.
Professor Jane Piirto, in her book Creativity for 21st Century Skills covers the motivation to create.
She writes, “The main cause for creativity is that the creative person wants to be creative, in whatever domain he or she is working – whether it be woodworking in the basement, dancing, acting, drawing, singing, doing science, mathematics, inventing, being an entrepreneur, being an athlete, cooking, sewing, building, designing.
“People who are creative must have motivation. Creators intend to be creative, to make—something. People have to want to be creative. Creativity takes a long time and a certain amount of obsession.”
She thinks “Motivation is the only and main personality attribute that all creative people have and need.”
If you relate to this you are part of the tribe, so stop judging yourself so harshly and take comfort in the thought that millions of creative people all over the world are in the same boat. Piirto notes, “Creators must have the talent necessary to create in their area, and have had the environmental influence and support necessary.”
I’m sure most creatives feel this way. The way to get there is to day by day practice your craft and seek support from those who can relate to what you’re doing. IT DOES NO GOOD AND IT’S TOXIC FOR YOUR SOUL TO SEEK APPROVAL FROM THOSE WHO DON’T GET IT!
“What are the rewards for being creative? Fame is not usually one of them.” Piirto quotes musician Mat Callahan: “I have never found any correlation between money and the effectiveness of the creative process and its results. Do I produce a demand for my creative work… do I produce marketable commodities? Maybe. Do I apply my energies to my creative work, regardless? Certainly. Continuously. Why? Because of the satisfaction I derive from the process itself and the pleasure it brings to others.”
I leave you with that. The results of your mindset, your talent and your work will dictate the outcome. Focus on the work and being the best you can. Embrace the beast, take it for a long ride and enjoy the journey.
There are very few times in life you get a chance to talk with a giant in your field of endeavor. The other night I got to do just that, I spoke with Kinuko Y. Craft, master illustrator and one of the few females to regularly get published in Playboy magazine during it’s heyday. Her work has also appeared in and on the cover of many magazines and in numerous picture books. Awards for her work are too numerous to name however it bears mentioning that she was voted in the NY Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2008. And this quote by famed writer Ray Bradbury sums it up “Kinuko Craft is a Renaissance woman. By this I mean not that she paints like the Renaissance painters, but that she is an artist for all seasons, for all kinds of subjects, and in all kinds of styles. If you will survey her works, you will find little duplication in form, color or texture. She fits herself to her subject with charming ease and yet leaves herself free to remain herself. There is an air about all of her illustrations of one who is a true connoisseur of art, wide-ranging through all the countries of the world. One cannot help but think how delightful it would be to walk into gallery of her kaleidoscopic talents.”
The other night I was walking my dogs to the park and my phone rang. I picked it up and this girlish voice with a slight accent starts talking, introducing herself as Kinuko Craft. I was dumbfounded. We started our conversation and she told me she’d be happy to give me an interview for the upcoming issue of the Illustrators Journal. We spoke for about 10 minutes while my dogs did their business occasionally staring at me wondering why I wasn’t paying attention to them. How could I explain the joy I was having connecting with one of the illustration goddesses I admired. After a few minutes I told Kinuko I’d love to call her back and that my dogs were getting restless so I should pay attention to them. She laughed and told me how much she loved her dog and she understood.
Later that night I called her back and we had a delightful conversation for an hour and a half. The contents of that talk will appear in the next Journal coming out in April, so please come back and visit us, because we’re gonna start rockin n’ rollin’ with all sorts of great interviews and articles.
Next up…Political cartoonist Mark Stamaty whose work has appeared in too many magazines and publications to count especially his cover art for the Village Voice. We are also expecting original work done for us by Millenial superstar artist Molly Crabtree!
I ran across this posting and stopped. There have been a few times in my life and career that I asked myself this question. The first time I was in grade school and my father told me the only artists he knew were queer and was I queer. I actually had no idea what queer meant but I was sure it wasn’t good in his mind. I told him no I just like to draw and paint.
Off and on for years I doodled on my notebooks, on test papers and took painting classes with my mother. It wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I realized I wanted to be an artist. My athletic career had all but vanished from various injuries and I decided I needed to direct my energy towards being an artist regardless of whether my father thought I was “queer” or not! Over the years off and on I gave up being an artist and became an art director, then a creative director and finally an art department head at a major Hollywood studio. After all I had to eat and take care of my kids. Then in 2006 I decided to pursue illustration and being an artist full-time. Since then I’ve illustrated 30 or so books, illustrated for magazines, licensing and packaging.I created an online daily cartoon and have produced and directed animation for children’s educational series.
And still I have my doubts…I haven’t reached my goal of being the best me I can be. I’m shooting for that hallowed ground that Dr Seuss and Maurice Sendak roam. So I say creating artwork has little to do with supporting yourself financially. It has to do with expressing yourself and meeting your goals artistically. So plow ahead and use your failures to strengthen your shortcomings. And most of all enjoy the process!
Here’s the posting that inspired this soft rant.
Art and Struggle: At what point should an artist ‘give up’?
by Brian Sherwin on 3/5/2013 11:54:30 AM
This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY, artnet, WorldNetDaily (WND) and Art Fag City. Sherwin graduated from Illinois College (Jacksonville, Illinois) in 2003 — he studied art and psychology extensively. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 22,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites. Disclaimer: This author’s views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
I was recently asked the following question: “At what point should an artist ‘give up’?“. The artist who asked the question stressed that he was tired of ‘struggling for nothing’. I asked him to explain what ‘struggling for nothing’ meant — he responded by offering a rant that began with his lack of art awards, and ended with his frustration over his poor sales history. I reminded him that art and struggle walk hand-in-hand… and that the factors he mentioned were not good reasons for ‘giving up’ as an artist.
The artist avoided my response. He continued to explain how he was ‘giving up’ due to lack of recognition. I assume that he expected a ‘pity party’ from me in his honor. He was not aware that I’m a horrible ‘pity party’ host. I handed out all of my tissues years ago… and my smallest violin has gathered dust in a state of disrepair. Point-blank, I refused to validate his perceived failures as reasons to ‘give up’ on his artwork.
In truth, he did not want my honest answer to his question… he wanted me to offer him an ‘out’. He wanted me to agree that it was time for him to ‘give up’ on his artwork — and all the years he had put into exploring art in general. I don’t agree with ‘giving up’. I told him that he was missing the point of creating art in the first place. I told him that he needed to rediscover his passion… the passion he had known long before the art competitions and unsold artwork.
Art and struggle walk hand-in-hand. The technical side of creating art can be frustrating at times (many FineArtViews regulars have shared the technical difficulties they have faced as artists). Furthermore, there are emotional factors to consider depending on the artist and the visual message that he or she explores (some artists open emotional wounds, if you will, as part of their creative process). These struggles — including the struggles involved with marketing art — are not reasons to ‘give up’… they are reasons to press on. Passion holds it all together.
Art and struggle walk hand-in-hand. As implied above, the process of creating art — and developing as an artist — may not always be pleasant. Furthermore, it does not always result in praise. Even when praise is achieved… it is often fleeting. The need for recognition is a sad reason for entering the world of art marketing IF passion is lost in the process. It is OK to desire recognition (seek fame and fortune if you wish)… BUT upholding ones passion for creating and sharing a visual message is far more desirable. I feel that my artist friend should prioritize his needs.
This is what I want to stress: Lack of recognition — be it in the form of failing to win an art prize OR failing to sell a piece — is not a reason to ‘give up’ as an artist. It is not a valid reason for tossing your passion aside. Lack of recognition is a common struggle faced by artists and other creative individuals. Point-blank, my artist friend is not the first artist to face these struggles… nor will he be the last. He needs to stop whining. He needs to toughen up… and get back to work. He won’t receive pity from me… only pressure.
In closing, artists will often find themselves in the position of facing struggles head-on. Art and struggle walk hand-in-hand. Veterans of the art world can no doubt tell you about some of the ‘brick walls’ they have smacked over the decades. That said, most of you WILL keep pushing forward… just as they did. Stating that you are ‘giving up’ because of lack of recognition is nothing more than a petty excuse for having lost your passion. Rediscover your passion. After all, recognition is a trivial need compared to the passion that should be fueling your artwork in the first place.
Take care, Stay true,
If I only had the money…Matisse is one of the truly original artists ever and one of the pillars in my art pantheon. Just to gaze at his work and study the movement of his lines and how sure and spontaneous they are is an inspiration.
An important ink and brush drawing by Henri Matisse will be offered in the forthcoming Œuvres sur Papier sale on 23 March in Paris. Considered to be one of the finest examples of the artist’s last works on paper, Visage will appear at auction for the first time, having been in a private collection since its acquisition from the family of the artist in 1976. Drawing was always central to the artist’s oeuvre, and whether working in oil paint, ink or collage, his exploration and representation of form needed very few marks to convey a powerful image. Characterised by calligraphic brushstrokes, the image bears the hallmarks of Matisse’s assured brevity of line. As his daughter Marguerite Duthuit mentions in the certificate of authenticity, this work “…belongs to the group of the very last drawings by Henri Matisse.”
HENRI MATISSE, VISAGE, 1952. ESTIMATE: €800,000—1,200,000. © 2017 SUCCESSION H. MATISSE.
In fact, by the latter half on the 1940s, the artist had largely abandoned painting because of the physical toll it begun to take. During this period, he has taken up residence at the Hôtel Régina in Nice, where he spent long periods bedridden, yet still compelled to make work. He turned his attentions to working with paper using different mediums, and most famously his colourful cut-outs. Many of these pieces were produced with the help of his studio assistants Lydia Delectorskaya and Jacqueline Duhême, who alongside offering practical support, sometimes posed for Matisse – becoming the subject of some of his most iconic portraits.
VISAGE HANGING IN THE DINING ROOM OF MATISSE’S ROOM IN THE HÔTEL RÉGINA, NICE, 1952. © 2017 SUCCESSION H. MATISSE.
Visage hung on the walls of the hotel room Matisse called home for several years. This elegant large-scale drawing – thickly brushed in India ink – demonstrates his innate ability to capture the nuances of facial expression with a few strokes. The viewer’s eye is drawn immediately to the centre of the paper, locked into a confident gaze, accompanied by a wry smile. Visage is a testament to his long-standing fascination with the very act of drawing – stripped back to its purest form. As the art historian Pierre Schneider points out, the brush drawings of this period are in fact interchangeable with the paintings of the same name: “which only goes to prove they have the same identity. These large dazzling black and white sheets of paper are Matisse’s last paintings” (Pierre Schneider, Matisse, New York, 1984, pp. 652-654).
HENRI MATISSE, GRAND VISAGE (MASQUE), 1952. © 2017 SUCCESSION H. MATISSE.
A photograph by Lydia Delectorskaya taken in the rooms of the Hôtel Régina in 1952 shows Visage hung high in the top corner of Matisse’s living room, above a frieze of paper cut-outs. On the subject of the 1950s ink and brush portraits, Matisse himself wrote: “These drawings spring up in one piece, made of elements without any apparent link with the analytic thought which preceded them. The multiplicity of feelings expressed in each of them seems impossible to capture so much the speed. ith which they join together is great. I am absolutely convinced that they represent the goal of my curiosity.”
MAIN IMAGE: HENRI MATISSE, VISAGE, 1952. ESTIMATE: €800,000—1,200,000.
But from a scientific perspective, there is scant evidence to connect these compelling areas. While recent neuroimaging studies have examined the brain regions responsible for dreaming, for example, parallel research on dreams and the brain in the throes of creation is not yet under way.
That said, intriguing new work suggests possible links between dreams and creativity. Aside from indicating that dreams may help ordinary people find creative solutions to everyday problems (see page 48), recent research shows that fantasy-prone people may have higher dream recall than others. It also suggests that dreams themselves–with their idiosyncratic imagery, colorful extrapolations on the same theme and nonjudgmental stance–model at least one aspect of the creative process, the free association that precedes actual creation.
“To be creative, you need a way to let those circuits float free and really be open to alternatives that you would normally overlook,” explains Robert Stickgold, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard University who has conducted seminal studies on dreams, sleeping and learning. “Several features of REM sleep predispose the brain to this activity.”
A dream-prone personality?
It may be the case that people who use dreams for creative purposes naturally have greater access to the dream world than others, research suggests. Two streams of literature support this contention: One links specific personality characteristics such as openness, proneness to fantasy and schizotypic tendencies with the penchant to remember and report dreams; the other connects creativity and these same personality variables.
Findings reported in the May issue of Personality and Individual Differences (Vol. 34, No. 7) strengthen the association. In one of the longest and most comprehensive studies on dream recall and personality factors to date, University of Iowa psychologist David Watson, PhD, collected dream-recall reports from 193 undergraduate students every day for three months, as well as data on personality variables, sleep schedules and the students’ alcohol and caffeine intake.
Personality characteristics were by far the most significant factor in dream recall, says Watson. Those prone to absorption, imagination and fantasy were much more likely than others to say they remembered their dreams and to report dreams with vivid imagery, he found. The same group also scored higher than others on the “openness” scale of the five-factor personality inventory. The scale describes those who are open to new experiences and take a rich, complex approach to life–“the ‘art film’ circuit,” as Watson puts it.
Watson, an empiricist, says that he was surprised by the finding. “I actually thought dream recall was going to be related to stress and anxiety, because the literature indicates that the things that disturb sleep tend to promote dream recall,” he says. Instead, his data support the idea that there’s a type of person more likely to tune into their dreams than others, he notes.
A related study in the September Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 85, No. 3) by psychologist Shelley Carson, PhD, a lecturer at Harvard University, found that 182 Harvard undergraduates who scored high on creative achievement tests also tested lower on “latent inhibition,” the ability to filter out internal and external stimuli that aren’t relevant to current goals or survival. The study is the first to directly test the association between creativity and low latent inhibition, which also has been linked to mental disorders such as schizophrenia, schizotypal personality disorder and proneness to psychosis.
The findings suggest that creative people may naturally “take in” more extraneous material than others, including, possibly, their dream material, Carson notes. There may well be biological underpinnings to these tendencies–possibly related to the mesolimbic-dopamine system–which she and others will likely explore in the future, she notes.
Dreaming resembles creativity
There may be a good metaphorical reason that artists are so attached to their dreams. In the broadest sense, dreams mimic a critical stage of creativity: brainstorming the range of possibilities, or what psychoanalysts call free association, says Harvard’s Stickgold.
Neuroimaging studies by neurologist Allen R. Braun, MD, of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, neuropsychologist Mark L. Solms, PhD, of St. Bartholomew’s and the Royal London Hospital, and others show how this might happen. In essence, the brain areas responsible for executive control, logical decision-making and focused attention shut down during dreaming, while sensory and emotional areas come alive. In addition, short-term memory functions are deactivated, so that the emotional content of images remains, but the waking context does not.
At least one study by Stickgold supports the idea. In 1999 research reported in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience(Vol. 11, No. 2), Stickgold and colleagues woke 44 undergraduate students from REM sleep–the deepest stage of sleep most strongly associated with dreaming–and immediately gave them a word-priming task. Subjects were shown a word, and immediately after, another word or cluster of nonsense letters. Subjects were then asked to say if the second item was a word or not.
Previous studies of normally awake subjects showed that when the word pairs were strongly related–as with “wrong” and “right,” for example–subjects could identify the second target word faster than if the words weren’t strongly related–as with “wrong” and “house,” for example. But when they were tested immediately after being awakened from REM sleep, the exact opposite happened. The weaker primes produced faster responses.
“It’s as if the brain is preferentially searching out and activating weak associates, unexpected paths, instead of the obvious, normally strong associates,” Stickgold says.
This unique activity provides both a nice metaphor and a possible explanation for the way artists and other creative people operate: in essence, thinking outside the box, whether consciously or unconsciously, Stickgold comments.
“It is as if the [dreaming] brain has been tuned to a state for finding and testing and thinking about new associations,” Stickgold says. “To paraphrase Robert Frost, the brain takes the path less traveled by, and that makes all the difference.”
Tori DeAngelis is a writer in Syracuse, N.Y.
The power and the drama in Gevinson’s work is readily apparent. It draws you into the period and delivers a darkened approach to the stark reality of war. That being said the artistic quality of his work elevates the imagery to the quality of timeless. If you know nothing about the first world war or the state of the world during those times the art he created takes you there and delivers the goods.
First shown at the ground-breaking 1916 show at London’s Leicester Galleries, Returning to the Trenches is one of C.R.W. Nevinson’s most recognised prints, and one of the most iconic images of life on the Western Front in the First World War. It leads a fascinating group of prints by the artist featured within the Made In Britain auction in London on 5 April; a sale that focuses on British creativity across the past century.
NEVINSON IN HIS UNIFORM, LATE 1914.
Like his close contemporary Paul Nash, subject of a major retrospective currently on at Tate Britain, Nevinson witnessed life on the Western Front at first hand, enlisting in the Friends Ambulance Unit in late 1914. Sent home in 1915, Nevinson began to record his impressions of the conflict via the medium of paint, pencil, pen and ink and prints – works which today are considered some of the most important depictions of the conflict.
C.R.W. NEVINSON, RETURNING TO THE TRENCHES, 1916, ESTIMATE £50,000–70,000.
Nevinson’s work struck a chord with both public and critics alike; achieved through the very successful synthesis of realism and modernism, and the body of printed works which he produced from 1916 have, like those of Nash as well as the many poets of the period, become the visual signifier of the conflict for later generations.
C.R.W. NEVINSON, SWOOPING DOWN ON A TAUBE, 1917, ESTIMATE £8,000–12,000.
Nevinson made use of different techniques, mediums and materials, often producing a pastel or pencil drawing, alongside a painting as well as an etching or lithograph of very similar compositions. The choice of medium on each occasion produced a subtle and slight alteration in the emotional impact of the composition, and Nevinson’s etchings possess a particular intimacy, as seen in the group of works featured within the Made In Britain sale.
C.R.W. NEVINSON, BRITAIN’S EFFORTS AND IDEALS: MAKING AIRCRAFT: SWOOPING DOWN ON A TAUBE, 1917, ESTIMATE £7,000–9,000.
To look at these images, over a century after their inception, you are drawn into the brutality and devastating loss of human life that the First World War witnessed. And, as with the work of Nash, Stanley Spencer or Mark Gertler you see the power that artists have always had in capturing these momentous social events; events which have shaped the course of modern life.
NEVISNOSN IN FRONT OF HIS AMBULANCE.
The Made In Britain auction is in London on 5 April
A few years ago I was assigned to create around fifty spot illustrations for a series of educational booklets. As part of that assignment I was asked if I could illustration other ethnic types other than white. “Of course” was my response. Once I had past the sketch phase I was told the sketches of African-American and Hispanics I did were too ethnic looking and needed to be less so. I took that to mean more white. After several rounds of alterations my work was approved. However it illustrated to me a fundamental problem in our society. There are some companies and people who are afraid of the “other” and do not want to offend them. Most of these people I suspect have very little contact with ethnic groups other than their own. That’s unfortunate to me because the differences is what makes our world interesting. The more we interact wit the “others” the less we fear them and the better our society will be for it. NOW,…more than ever it is important to reach out and get to know each other. Only when we understand the needs, wants, experiences and hopes of other ethnic groups will we have a fully integrated society. Ok how how does this relate to Kidlit? Simple, it starts with kids. Max Benavides’s article says it better than I could so here it is…
The books they read and the books parents read to their kids need to reflect our society as a whole. Many Americans are familiar with well-known mainstream children’s books such as the Dr. Seuss series, Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are. But what about Americans who come from another culture, speak another language or are bilingual? What children’s books are there for them and their families?
This group, until recently, was especially missing from children’s literature, often referred to as kidlit in the publishing world. These are the families whose parents’ first language is Spanish and whose children are learning English in school. When you add in the fact that the majority of the 54 million Latinos in the U.S. are bilingual and yet very few children’s books are bilingual you have a tremendous gap in books that can speak to this community and its culture, particularly the parents. That means they don’t see themselves in the children’s books distributed at their schools, stocked in their local libraries or sold in bookstores. The effect of this invisibility and absence in children’s books is dramatic and negatively affects the self-esteem of these children.
Nationally, nearly 25 percent of all K-12 students are Latino and the percentage is only growing. In California, the most populous state in the country, Latinos comprise 53 percent of all students in K-12. Latino families like these—who live all across the country from the Southeast to the West Coast—are often bilingual with Spanish being the main home language for many.
And, guess what? Until now there have been very few children’s books for this huge population of children who want to see themselves and their families in children’s books.
Finally, one publisher is doing something about it. In the early 2000s, Katherine Del Monte founded Lectura Books and since then has been publishing bilingual books aimed at this large and increasingly expanding population. Her desire has been for parents and their kids to learn together how to love literature and to see themselves in the literature. These families are often marginalized in our society and their stories untold. To remedy this, she started Family Stories for Parent Involvement.
“We all want a literate society,” says Del Monte. “The question is how do we get there? How do we do we reach millions of families who speak Spanish at home and help them learn English, learn how to read, and to build vocabulary. Reading is the essential building block for literacy and if we don’t create bilingual books for these families, our society will lose the edge that literate and educated citizens bring to the country and its economy.”
Based on her research and personal experience, Del Monte decided to tell their stories in a combination of both English and Spanish. To date, she has published 25 bilingual books including Letters Forever, a moving story about a young girl in San Antonio who exchanges letters with her grandfather who lives in Veracruz, Mexico. She dreams of seeing him again one day and when she becomes 18 she visits him in Veracruz. It’s a story of love across the generations and the power of culture and music.
Another title published by Lectura Books is The Shark That Taught Me English. Written and illustrated for elementary students, it tells the story of a girl named Sophia who only speaks Spanish and how she learns English with the help of a shark image that her teacher uses in class. Once she begins to learn English, her self-confidence grows and by the end of the book she is teaching English to her father. Del Monte’s books have won many awards including the Moonbeam Award, the Independent Publishers Award, the International Latino Book Award and been listed on the Texas State Reading List.
“My goal is to show the stories that are overlooked by mainstream publishers,” explains Del Monte. “I want to publish bilingual books that connect families to their stories. Rather than allow this audience to be an afterthought at best, I want to showcase the brilliance and wisdom of their stories. No one in the U.S. is doing this today. You simply can’t ignore a quarter of all the children in our schools. You can’t ignore their parents simply because they don’t speak English, are immigrants and work in low-paying jobs. True diversity in book publishing will only come by publishing in English and Spanish for the 37 million people in our country who speak Spanish.”
This is not a new concern. In 2014, a hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooksbecame a social media phenomenon when two authors of color, Ellen Oh and Lamar Giles, tired of the lack of diversity in kidlit, launched the hashtag and a movement was born that brought awareness to the stunning lack of diversity in American children’s literature.
Flavorwire recently reported that, “In 2013, the Cooperative Children’s Book Center in Wisconsin cataloged 3,200 children’s books, constituting a majority of all children’s books published that year. Of these, only 68 — about two percent — had black authors. A slightly larger number, 93, had black protagonists. The numbers are either comparable or worse for Asian Americans, Latinos, and American Indians, and show stagnant or regressive movement.” They also noted that a 2014 Publisher’s Weekly salary survey included questions about race and ethnicity and it found some dismal results: of the people working in publishing 89 percent are white and only three percent are Hispanic or Latino, 3 percent Asian and one percent African-American.
The bottom line: although the U.S. is growing more diverse every year, you would never know it from children’s books or from the publishing industry itself. For that reason, Lectura Books plays a key and necessary role by publishing books that are culturally relevant to children and families who are often ignored. The long-term outcome will be to produce literate young people who go on to college and contribute to our society and its economic vitality. That’s how you build a literate society.