Need some distraction today? We hear you…
Ever heard of National Duck Day? Apparently it was yesterday (January 18th)! Beloved Red Cap artist, Jon Klassen, introduced us via a gorgeous illustration and poem for Eric Carle‘s, What’s Your Favorite Animal? Take a look at the poem and illustration below, plus a bonus original illustration.
“Most times when you
see a duck in a story,
it’s not very smart.
Usually it is in the
middle of falling
for a trick somebody
is playing on it.
But I like ducks,
I like watching them walk around.” – JK
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
This Google doodle by Red Cap artist, Christian Robinson, from several years ago still makes our hearts leap. During these uncertain times, let’s focus on love. Martin Luther King Jr. told us so. Read more about Dr. King’s dreams on his official webpage. And view Christian’s designs for Red Cap, here.
Think that Valentine’s Day was invented by the greeting card companies? Not so, as much as we wish we could take credit for that one. The holiday dates back all the way to a temple priest (Valentine) who was beheaded in 270 AD. Emperor Claudius was peeved with Valentine for performing illegal marriage ceremonies for the army’s soldiers who were forbidden from marriage. New laws enacted by Claudius stated that a Roman soldier should only be in love with the Roman Empire, and was not allowed to wed. After being caught, Valentine was thrown in jail to await his execution where (legend has it) he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. He then gave the girl a card with the written words, “from your Valentine.” February 14th was the date when Valentine received Catholic martyrdom, and the rest is history!
We at Red Cap Cards are invested in celebrating the legend through love and thoughtfulness. Send your heart on a piece of art. Click over to our shop to see all of our Valentine cards—many of them brand new! Follow our Instagram for even more Valentines during the month of love. It’s all you need, you know.
It’s no secret that we are enamored with great illustration and creative work for children. The only thing better than finding those two components in one tiny package is if they are mailed directly to our house on a regular basis! Creative magazines for children are such a fabulous way to consistently inspire kids to use their imaginations and have fun with art and literature. Plus, the added bonus of receiving mail addressed right to them is like a surprise party with every single issue. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites (plus one or two for the grownups in the house as well). Enjoy!
A favorite of ours, Illustoria is a quarterly, printed magazine for kids that celebrates “visual storytelling, makers and DIY culture through stories, art, comics, interviews, crafts and activities.” This one is geared toward kids of ages 6-12, but don’t let that hold you back. Even grownups can find tons of colorful inspiration in these pages. An added bonus–check out the “kid art” section of their website to view art by tons of tiny Picassos.
Anorak. Eat your veggies! Or at least read them. This quarterly mag for kids is printed with real vegetable inks on all recycled pages for kids ages 6-12. It’s a treasure trove of all things happy and colorful. Also lovable is that each issue is themed with an interesting topic, like Under the Sea, Party, or Daredevils. We’re a bit biased about their Museums issue (above) as it features a beautiful illustration by Red Cap Cards artist, Barbara Dziadosz, on the cover.
Dot. We like to think of this as Anorak‘s little sister. It’s everything that Anorak offers for older kids, but bite-sized for pre-schoolers. Dot, is ad-free and geared toward children 5 and under. “Just like its older brother Anorak, DOT encompasses all aspects of a child’s life, from jumping in puddles to learning through play. It encourages kids to be resourceful and find solutions using all the tools they naturally have at their disposition: imagination, creativity and fun.”
Bright Lite is a new one on the scene, and was initially launched via Kickstarter. “For girls / by girls” is this quarterly magazine’s motto, that strives to empower girls through photo, story, and art submissions from girls all over the world. We love their emphasis on “focusing on that incredible time of just being a kid; that blissful part of youth before dating, parties, and ‘coolness’ seem to distract us from simply being in wonder of the world.” Thumbs way up for that!
Honorable Mention: Not for kids, but for the kid-at-heart.
Flow is a great Dutch magazine that explores creativity and mindfulness in daily life. “Flow is all about positive psychology, mindfulness, creativity and the beauty of imperfection. We love illustrations and in each issue there is a gift made of our much-loved paper. We print the magazine itself on different types of paper.” One of the many reasons we adore Flow is because they love wonderful illustrators as much as we do, like Yelena Bryksenkova who is a regular in print. Check out this awesome feature of Yelena’s day-in-illustrations. Love it!
Another one for creative kids at heart–Uppercase Magazine. An independently printed magazine out of Canada, Uppercase is a smorgasbord of creative inspiration. Each issue is themed, such as the Stationery issue (above) and features work and art by some of the most talented in the business. Check it out–the print job is a work of art in and of itself!
What are your favorite creative magazines?
Happy New Year, all you folks and friends! We are very excited about 2017, and hope you are too. Many fantastic projects are on their way for Red Cap Cards, plus a few collaborations that will knock your socks off. Be on the lookout for new lines by Danielle Kroll, Priscilla Weidlein and Bodil Jane, plus a luxury line (details to come) with Marsha of Strange Dirt, and more.
In the meantime, enjoy a trip down memory lane into some of our most beloved posts. Enjoy, and drink a glass of bubbly for us! Happy 2017!!
CHILDREN’S BOOK POSTS:
Arlo’s Book Club: Winter Edition
Five Books for Kids on Kindness
The Art of Truth: Why We Create for Kids
Arlo’s Book Club: Make It Work Edition
Arlo’s Book Club: Magical Wonderment Edition
Diversity in Children’s Books
Arlo’s Book Club: Spring Fun Edition
RED CAP ARTIST POSTS:
Fall Fest: Red Cap Artists’ Spooky Sketches
Artist News Roundup: Lizzy Stewart, Jon Klaassen, and Dinara Mirtalipova
New Artist: Danielle Kroll
Artist News Roundup: Christian Robinson, Nicholas John Frith Lesley Barnes, Lizzy Stewart, and Josie Portillo
Artist News Roundup: Anke Weckmann, Becca Stadtlander, and Meg Hunt
RED CAP SPECIAL RELEASE POST:
Gift Wrap, Notebooks, and Wrapping Paper Release!
Oh So Beautiful Paper Interview
The Magic Behind the Press Interview
Artist Spotlight: Carolyn Gavin
Artist Spotlight: Kate Pugsley
Artist Spotlight: Barbara Dziadosz
Artist Spotlight: James Gulliver Hancock
Life: Fathers Day Trumpet by Lizzy Stewart
Spread Some Cheer with Red Cap Cards
Shake: For the Fathers
The Art of Love
The Importance of a Sketchbook
Creative Inspiration: Modes of Medium
Master’s Showcase: Barbara Cooney
Merriest of merries. Happiest of happies. We hope this Yuletide season finds you warm, cozy, and surrounded by friends and loved ones.
Love, Red Cap Cards
Winter is here, and we hope you are super cozy–curled up in your bed with cute jammies and maybe a friend or two. It’s also time for another Arlo’s Book Club, and this time, we’re focusing on some new (and old!) wintery favorites to keep you and your tiny readers warm over the coming season.
The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear with illustrations by Chris Turnam
Charles wants to find a wish tree, and is off on a journey to find one, with his sidekick, Boggan. This one is perfect for the holiday season, and will inspire the search for magic in kids and adults, alike. We’ve featured Kyo Maclear before, and are delighted with her new release. Crisp, modern illustration by Chris Turnham makes the story sparkle.
Mr. Dog’s Christmas at The Hollow Tree Inn by Albert Bigelow Paine with illustrations by Adam McCauley
We adore this one! Originally written by Albert Bigelow Paine in 1898, Mr. Dog has become a traditional figure in many households around the holidays. Artist Adam McCauley rescued the out-of-print text and brought it back to life in glorious color. Is a warming a spot on the chair in your hearth? If not, grab one!
“Meet the mischievous but kind-hearted Mr. Dog: a worldly raconteur who delights in telling tales of Santa Claus’s visits to Mr. Man’s house. His friends at the Hollow Tree Inn—Mr. Crow, Mr. ‘Coon, and Mr. Possum—have never heard of Santa Claus. They’re mesmerized by Mr. Dog’s descriptions of the jolly old man and, naturally, they’d like to entice Santa to the Hollow Tree. So Mr. Dog decides to play along. His generosity, creativity and careful planning result in a joyous celebration for all, capturing the essence of Christmas as a time for love and giving.”
Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant with illustrations by Christian Robinson
We’ve been waiting for this one for a while, and couldn’t wait to dive (a little penguin pun) in as soon as we got our hands on a copy. Illustrated by Red Cap Cards artist, Christian Robinson, and written by Cynthia Rylant, Little Penguins is a warm telling of a family of penguins’ getting ready to go out and play on a wintery day. This one will make you want to live in primary color. Check out Christian’s card designs for Red Cap here.
Love Matters Most by Mij Kelly with illustrations by Gerry Turley
This vibrant, poetic picture book tells the story of a polar bear searching for something that matters most of all in the cold, wide arctic. Cool colors with vibrant pops of color, plus a perfect rhyming scheme make this one a winner. It’s a joy to read out loud. Love, love, love.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
We haven’t forgotten the lovable Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The TV special is loved in its own right, but we tend to prefer the tactile experience of a book, don’t you? “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
The Mitten by Jan Brett
This one is a classic that you should pick up immediately if you haven’t had the fun of discovering it already. In this story by Jan Brett, a group of woodland animals find Nicki’s tiny white mitten in the snow, and try to crawl inside it, one by one. I suppose the story begs the question of why you would knit white snow mittens for a child, but that point aside, this one is whimsical and imaginative and bright. Kids love it!
Last week, we were so busy having fun wrapping the gifts, that we forgot to give you our suggestions for what those gifts might be! Our Red Cap Cards artists are always hard at work, creating beautiful art, books, and goodies, and we wanted to share a few fun treats! From bottles of wine to books for the kids, everyone on your gift list is covered this year. See below for a small selection of fantastic holiday gift possibilities:
1. For your crazy-fun sister, who is always the life of the party: Jet Set Jungle Syrah, with label art work by Red Cap artist, Meg Hunt. We’re not sure how this one tastes, but if it’s anything as bold and lovely as Meg’s artwork, it’s sure to satisfy. Click over to Barrel + Ink to grab a bottle or two.
2. For your favorite niece or nephew who loves a good laugh: Hello, Mr. Dodo! by Red Cap artist, Nicholas John Frith. This is Nicholas John’s second picture book, and would make a perfect gift for young readers. Rather than a rambunctious hummingbird, this one is about a girl and her new doughnut-loving pal, a dodo. Published in hardcover by Arthur A. Levine books.
3. For any friend who always has great ideas they need to jot down: pick a notebook, any notebook. As if we could forget our favorite gift of this year. From Moth Magic to Forest Blue, the original Red Cap Cards notebooks are 5×7 inches, with 56 unruled pages, and boast an offset printed, heavyweight linen texture cover with foil details. Click over to our shop to see them all.
6. For the grandkids, who adore a whimsical story about friendship and triumph: a signed copy of Jill & Dragon by Lesley Barnes, available from her Etsy shop. This is a great nightly read, and has a surprising and sweet ending!
7. Don’t forget to grab something for yourself while you’re shopping around Lesley‘s shop. This bone china Knight Parade mug will hold cup after cup…after cup of very dark, caffeinated coffee for when your spouse’s family is in town.
It’s time to spread some cheer! We are so excited to share this gift wrap tutorial video with you today, plus, see below for a few tips and tricks for creating a flawlessly wrapped package for the holidays. And, hey! Our gift wrap isn’t just for every day gifting. Jazz up your packages for the holidays or a special New Year hostess gift. Thank goodness for 2017! Also, don’t forget to download your free instructions to create your own Origami Tree ornaments (as seen in the video), here.
And…if you’re going to be in our area this weekend, don’t forget to stop by West Elm and visit us at our Pop-Up shop. We will have special deals and funsies for all of the folks on your list. It’s rare that we do this, so come say hi and pick up some goodies for the holidays! All of our products will be discounted and a portion of the profit will be donated to a local school here in Los Angeles. Three cheers to West Elm for all of their continued support! Stop by on Saturday the 3rd from 1-4pm in Santa Monica.
It’s hard to believe it’s been eleven years since we started Red Cap Cards. It seems like only yesterday we were hand painting cards with our friends and family in our West Hollywood bungalow apartment. Today, we count over twenty-five artists as collaborators and friends on our mission to spread joy, love, and art through our products.
This Thanksgiving, we at Red Cap Cards want to say thank you. Thank you to our talented artists for bringing such life into our designs and for creating works for so many people to enjoy. Thank you to each of you for your individual perspective and cohesive vision.
Thank you to our wonderful team! Red Cap Cards is a beautiful family of artists, visionaries and storytellers all coming together to celebrate connection. Thank you to all of our team members here and around the world for being such an invaluable part of our family. We are so thankful for all of you.
And thank you to YOU, our customers, our fans and our community for making the past eleven years possible. Thank you for your support and love and excitement when we roll out a new product or introduce a new artist. We would not be here without you.
Happy Thanksgiving, and here’s to another eleven years.
Have you been swept up into the adult coloring book craze? We have! And we are so happy to show off some of our favorites from Red Cap artists, friends, and a few treasured vintage finds. Making artwork is important to our creative well-being, and finding a way for everyone to participate (regardless of their artistic talent) is the key to stress relief and fun! So grab your colored pencils–this is detail work, folks–and check these out.
First up is our friend Masha D’Yans who worked on this brand new coloring book with her mother, Galina! It features intricate fairy tales from all over the world, and will keep you entertained with its lavish scenery and gorgeous characters.
James Gulliver Hancock! His illustration is made for intricate coloring time, and he has two on the market now that we love. Vegetables Give You Super Powers offers playful veggie coloring fun. If you’re up for something a bit more complicated, check out Gulliver’s New Travels which is a deep dive into some magical city-scapes and other-worldly coloring journeys.
Nearly everything. Just about. Anke was made for coloring book design, and we are oh-so glad that she published this gem. A Short Colouring Book of Nearly Everything is whimsical, sweet, and vibrant with happy characters. Grab it on her Etsy shop.
To Canada with Love, from Carolyn Gavin. This ecojot coloring book honors our buddies to the North and teaches us a thing or two. Created exclusively for Roots. Follow Carolyn for how to purchase this one, or view her cards for Red Cap, here.
David Bowie, nothing is the same without you. You were the glue that was holding everything together. At least, however, we can color your Ziggy Stardust phase. We love this one which is available here.
This one just tickles us. Curated by Souris Hong-Poretta, this one is full of many artists works for giant imaginations. “For anyone who loves creativity and contemporary art, or who simply loves the joy of coloring, comes Outside the Lines, a striking collection of illustrations from more than 100 creative masterminds, including animators, cartoonists, fine artists, graphic artists, illustrators, musicians, outsider artists, photographers, street artists, and video game artists.”
Plus, a peek at our vintage coloring book collection which is tops! What should we do with these? Have any ideas?
Happy coloring (or colouring if you’re fancy), everyone!
We know it has been a difficult week for some of us. In times like this, we look around and wonder how we got here. However, here at Red Cap, we choose to meditate on the love, kindness, and beauty that we know resides in our great nation. In times like this, let’s look to our littlest truth-tellers and find a way to guide them to the values that we hold dear. We picked a few books out that showcase what it means to live in kindness and in service to others. Enjoy.
The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade
by Justin Roberts, with pictures by Red Cap artist, Christian Robinson
A beautiful, poetic story about a very small girl in the smallest grade. This one has a wonderful message, about standing up for what’s right–Love!–even when you feel very small. “Sally notices everything—from the twenty-seven keys on the janitor’s ring to the bullying happening on the playground. One day, Sally has had enough and decides to make herself heard. And when she takes a chance and stands up to the bullies, she finds that one small girl can make a big difference.”
A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Written by Philip C. Stead with pictures by Erin E. Stead
“And in the end, the love you take Is equal to the love you make.” This Caldecott medal-winning picture book tells the story of Amos, a zookeeper, who gives extra-special attention to all of his animals each and every day. When he becomes sick, the animals return the favor by visiting him at home. It is a lovely example in the lesson of love and care for your fellow friends.
The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein
It’s rare that someone hasn’t read The Giving Tree, but some still miss the underlying message. In the story, a tree loves a boy so much that she gives him everything of herself until she is a lowly stump. We learn from the tree that giving and generosity equals happiness, regardless of outcome. Kindness is, in and of itself, happiness.
Jane, the Fox & Me
by Fanny Britt, with illustration by Isabelle Arsenault
Translated from French, Jane, the Fox & Me is a poignant and beautiful graphic novel. This should be required reading for middle school-aged girls, and teaches a valuable lesson about understanding differences, having compassion, and fostering friendship.
by Ame Dyckman with pictures by Zachariah O’Hora
Who is really the horrible one in the situation–the girl or the bear? And who will say sorry first? This is a great story (with awesome illustration by Zachariah O’Hora) about seeing your opponent’s side with compassion and coming together on common ground. A lovely lesson for every age group.
Much love and kindness to all…
Here come the holidays! We were so happy to see that our gold foil holiday cards by Anke Weckmann were featured on one of our favorite blogs this week. Thanks so much to Papercrave for a special post on these lovelies, which we adore in all of their glittery goodness.
Click over to Papercrave to read the entire post, and make sure to browse while you’re there–their taste is impeccable!
We couldn’t wait to get our hands on a copy of Ghost, and the day has finally arrived. Written by Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin, and illustrated by Red Cap artist, Chris Sasaki, and Jeff Turle, Ghost originated as a Kickstarter project and has blossomed to life (and we use the term loosely) just in time for Halloween. The description of the book below paints a picture of a beautiful job well-done:
Some of our most vivid childhood memories are of being huddled around a campfire, the hair on the back of our necks standing upright as we listened to tales of terror…or of staying up late, hiding beneath the covers with a flashlight in hand, reading a ghost story we swiped from our older brother. We all loved these stories that both ignited the imagination and stirred up feelings of dread that kept us up until morning’s light broke.
However, we’ve been frustrated in our search to find collections of ghost stories that strike the classic tone of the books from our youth. Stories that are as surprising as they are terrifying. Stories that stick with us. Stories that we can tell the next time we find ourselves around a campfire.
GHOST is a collection of 13 original poems and tales written by Blaise Hemingway and Jesse Reffsin and illustrated by Chris Sasaki and Jeff Turley. The book is hard bound, full color book- filled with more than 100 pages of bone chilling stories and illustrations. With GHOST, we wanted to create new ghost tales for a new generation both written and illustrated in a classic, timeless style.
Last night, the publisher of Ghost, Illustrátus, hosted a book release and charity auction at the usually closed-to-the-public, Historical Castle Green Hotel, with original works by a huge list of talented artists. (Check them all out in the list below). All of the proceeds will go to 826LA…and who knows, maybe there are a few Halloween treats left over to nab? Check out some of the featured works below, courtesy Illustrátus’s Instagram, plus a video from the makers of Ghost.
What a delightful time of year! Autumn days bring cozy-cuddling, candy corn, and warm cider…sweaters, foliage, and pumpkin spice. Last year we had fun with our Life in Fall by Sarah Burwash and Life in Halloween Kids by Kelsey Garrity-Riley post, and this year, we wanted to focus on the spectacular and spooky art work that our Red Cap artists have produced on their own. We took a crisp stroll through their blogs, tumblrs, and Instagrams to find these beautiful illustrations that will you have you ready to go trick or treating (especially that fantastic animated gif by Yelena Bryksenkova!) Happy Halloween, everyone!
The day that we all have been waiting for has come! Red Cap Cards artist and Caldecott Award winner, Jon Klassen, has published the third and final installment of the “hat” series, which includes I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat and now, We Found a Hat! This one (from Candlewick Press) features two desert turtles, who find a hat “together,” decide to leave it where they find it, and the unspoken struggle and sly humor that follow. It is the perfect end-cap to the picture book suite we love.
On Tuesday night, we were happy to attend the book launch party at Skylight Books in Los Feliz, and hang out with our pal, Jon! He gave a talk all about how the conception of his picture book characters begin, and showcased some mock-ups that didn’t quite work for the book. Best of all, he signed a bale of books for Kidboss and her buddies–each one adorned with an animal illustration (art directed by Arlo herself, of course).
Plus, some killer hat tattoos…
We’re looking to see what a few of our artists have gotten up to this week and are happy to present it to you in our Artist News Roundup! Not only are they creating gorgeous work for us, but our illustrators are also some of the hardest working artists in contemporary children’s book publishing today.
Jon Klassen has a big week coming up–his new picture book (part three of his “hat” trilogy), We Found a Hat, will be released on October 11th, and he’s about to go on book tour. We so enjoyed his new edited interview with the Wall Street Journal that was published yesterday. Posted below are a few snippets from the interview, but make sure to click over to WSJ to read the entire interview about Jon’s inspirations, favorite childhood books, collections and more. Plus, view his cards for Red Cap, here.
What was your favorite book as a kid?
You’ve said that Umetaro Azechi’s woodblock print, “ Mountaineer ,” had a profound impact on you because it got you thinking about drawing characters using simple shapes. What other artists have influenced your work?
Arnold Lobel, who did the “Frog and Toad” books, was a big deal. With film, the illustrations have to look like a snapshot of a larger world. […Click over to the Wall Street Journal to see more…]
Lizzy Stewart is also wading through the beautiful world of children’s books, and has taken up residency in a local Bath bookshop, Mr. B’s Emporium, where she’s upstairs, drawing away and waiting to meet you! As illustrator in residency, Lizzy is showcasing her new book, There’s a Tiger in the Garden, and sketching away at a few new stories. She’ll be hanging around the shop until tomorrow, so make sure to stop by if you’re in Bath (jealous). Take a glimpse at a few of her storyboards below, and a magnificent photo of the window display she created for Mr. B’s Emporium and view her cards for Red Cap, here.
And off the topic of children’s literature, it is now officially Inktober! We’ve been watching our Instagram feed to see if any Red Cap artists are participating, and were excited to see that our own Dinara Mirtalipova is posting a new ink drawing every day in October (view last year’s post about Inktober and Anke!). And how much do you want to steal that rug? Gorgeous, Dinara! Follow Dinara on Instagram to view the rest of her ink drawings for October and view her cards for Red Cap, here.
Happy Inktober, everyone!
We are so happy to announce our newest Red Cap design collaboration, with artist, Danielle Kroll!
After meeting Danielle in New York City, we were charmed by her romantic, feminine personality and absolutely adored her work. It reminds us of something that would be hanging in Elizabeth Taylor’s bedroom circa 1958. The perfect release for winter, her whimsical style conveys a playful narrative…it makes us crave hot weather, red lipstick and a 5 o’clock cocktail! Not only a painter, Danielle is a creative force, also working in illustration, ceramics and textiles.
Click over to her website or instagram to view more, and scroll through a few of our favorites that we snagged below. We can’t wait to grab her new greeting card designs off the press. Stay tuned for more news, and expect to see these beauties in January…if you can wait that long.
Photos courtesy Danielle Kroll.
What do you do with a notebook?
- draw pictures of items you buy throughout your day
- or things you see
- make lists of sentences your baby says
- your toddler says
- your teenager says (!)
- track the miles you travel in one week
- draw portraits of your friends
- or collect fallen autumn leaves
- write memories of that day to look back on in 5 years
- list goals you have for the future–with check-boxes next to them
- jot down those inventions that you always think of while driving, or showering, or mowing the lawn
- let your child color in the pages
- paint something new every day
- fill each page with positive affirmations
- or love letters
- or poetry
- or grocery lists
- tape a Polaroid® from each day on the pages
- sketch the birds you see on an autumn hike
- create a garden using colored pencils
- list the books you want to read before the New Year
- list the books you’ve read in your entire life (this one’s a toughie!)
- illustrate a new pattern and have it made into a fabric
Here’s what some of our artists do with their notebooks:
What do you do with yours? We want to see it!! Post your idea–on your sketchbook, notebook or pad of paper–of what YOU would do with a brand new, Red Cap Cards notebook on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #redcapNBchallenge. Make sure to hashtag and tag us (@redcapcards) so we see it! Next week, we will reveal our winner for a new Red Cap Cards illustrated notebook. Happy creating!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why we create for children, due to this week’s celebration of what would have been Roald Dahl‘s 100th birthday. So many adults and children (including myself!) flooded the internet and Instagram with praise and admiration for Dahl, a man who (according to The New Yorker) was not so much of a good person as a great writer and creator of stories. Roald Dahl’s books touched me personally after having spent most of my middle grade childhood in England. When I eventually returned to America, there was always a slight culture gap that these books helped me to bridge. He is still a hero and someone who inspired me to be a writer for kids. Seeing the immense love for Roald Dahl reminded me of a quote by contemporary children’s author, Mac Barnett, another favorite:
“Too often we tell kids pleasant stories devoid of truth, and stories without truth are not good stories. Our audience deserves more from us. —Mac Barnett”
Why do we write or illustrate for kids? And why is it so important? In my opinion, the best books for children are tellers of truth. Kids crave truth, and all forms of it. The creation of a great children’s book combines story with illustration to convey an idea that touches and inspires a child. When that happens, anything is possible. I personally believe that the most important reading you will do in your entire life is when you are young. It helps to form our perceptions and opinions when our minds are malleable and sponge-like. That is the time that we must read what is true and good and miraculous. I’ve collected a few wonderful examples of the art of truth below to illustrate (pun!) what I mean:
“In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child’s need for quietness is the same today as it has always been—it may even be greater—for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.” —Margaret Wise Brown
The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown with new, lovely illustration by Red Cap artist, Christian Robinson. We took a look at this one in Arlo’s Book Club. It’s a remarkable illustrative achievement that couples the innocence of childhood with the harsh lessons of the world. Margaret Wise Brown’s lyrical writing is juxtaposed with the playful, artistic work of Christian Robinson. This is the perfect story to appeal to the emotional maturity of children and to convey the beauty and sadness of the world around us.
Seasons by Blexbolex. This design-heavy book is almanac-esque and may seem like an odd choice for this post, but once you start flipping through the pages, you will see what I mean. Blexbolex uses graphic imagery to convey a tongue-in-cheek definition to words—each correlating to a season. The illustration defines underlying details that mostly children will relate to, using their ability to see such fine details that adults usually gloss over—even words that are seemingly unrelated. For example, in the fall section of the book, Blexbolex’s word is “STUBBORN” and he defines it with an illustration of one lonely, foliage-filled, orange tree in a row of ones that have already lost their leaves.
Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt, with illustration by Isabelle Arsenault. Another one that I recently checked out at the library is the magnificent graphic novel written by Fanny Britt, with illustration by Isabelle Arsenault. Originally written in French, this is the most raw and truthful rendition of what it feels like to be a middle-school aged girl that I have ever seen. Combining vibrant, life-like illustration (most of which is imagined by the young girl in the story) with a story-line that relates love, puberty, body issues, self-esteem, and hope for the future, this is definitely one that needs to be on everyone’s shelves. Bonus: It may also inspire younger kids to pick up classic literature that they haven’t read before!
A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni. Finding oneself is no small feat. In fact, most adults I know are still trying to do it. Leo Lionni (a selection from our Master’s Showcase) created a story that is deceptively simplistic. It speaks philosophical truth on so many different levels, specifically about personal identity. I feel like we need to revisit this book through each milestone we come across, most specifically our college years. I like to take away the simplest lesson: when you feel as if you have no place, rely on those you love to see you through.
“I don’t want to write for adults. I want to write for readers who can perform miracles. Only children perform miracles when they read.” —Astrid Lindgren
Pax by Sara Pennypacker with illustration by Red Cap artist, Jon Klassen. One of the reasons that I spent some of my childhood in England was because my dad was a Special Ops helicopter pilot, flying in the Middle East just after the first Gulf War. People have asked me about how I felt as a kid, with my dad in harm’s way so far away. In reality, I don’t remember much of it. I remember that kids had different accents then I did. I remember that my friends from America and I wrote letters (this was long before email!) and I remember that we had to give my dog, Scout, away. War is heavy and hard and long–but the things that children remember about it are very different from what grown-ups remember. And those things are no less heavy. This beautiful story was just nominated for the National Book Award and is wonderfully complimented by the soft, heartfelt illustration of Jon Klassen. The story is about a boy and his fox, who are separated due to the subtle hint of a war. Our perspective of war is seen through the eyes of the child in one of the most realistic ways I have ever seen. It’s just lovely.
“Growing up I actually, I didn’t have that close of a relationship with books. I actually struggled to read. And, so I was definitely drawn to books with pictures. I just loved that so much could be communicated with just an image.” —Christian Robinson
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex with illustration by Christian Robinson. I’ll finish off with something light-hearted but equally wonderful. This one tells the story of a brand new school and his reservations about what the school year will hold and whether he will be liked by the kids who come through him every day. This one is heartwarming and is perfectly applicable to what lots of kids are going through right now. School is a scary place, man. It’s full of people who are different from us, just like the rest of the world. They have different expectations, goals, likes, and dislikes (and political opinions!) and we must learn to come to terms with that, find peace with it, and thrive.
This week has been so full of fantastic happenings with our artists that it is almost difficult to round it all up into one post. Red Cap got a bit of love this week as well, with Barbara Dziadosz‘s “Cowboy” card featured on Papercrave, in their 7 Totally Bodacious Birthday Cards post. Click over to Papercrave to check it out!
That was the perfect start to our week, and it just kept getting better. PBS News Hour creates snippet interviews with some of the most intriguing voices in media today. And guess who we found in their most recent interview…our own Christian Robinson! Watch the video below for some absolutely inspirational words from Christian about his process, and ability to use pictures speak to children. We adore what he says about the collaboration of the picture book: “The story is actually something that happens when the author and the illustrator come together. It’s what happens on the page.”
Christian Robinson says he had a hard time reading as a child, and so he didn’t have a great relationship with books. But he could always find solace in drawing. Today, he has turned his childhood hobby into a career as an illustrator, using images to speak and “reflect the diverse world that we live in.” Christian Robinson offers his Brief But Spectacular take on illustration as communication.
In other picture book news, we are delighted to share that Red Cap artist, Nicholas John Frith, has won the Klaus Flugge Prize for his first book, Hector and Hummingbird. The Klaus Flugge Prize is awarded to the most exciting and promising newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. Congratulations, Nicholas! View his interview and some some Hector inside photos in his Artist Spotlight.
Did you adore Jill & Dragon as much as Arlo did? Red Cap artist, Lesley Barnes has a second installment of Jill’s adventures on its way to bookstores in early 2017. In this picture book, Jill sets off on a new adventure and tries to help a new friend. She meets a very sad lion—a King of the Jungle robbed of his crown! Forced to drive a toy car around in endless circles, poor Lion is so unhappy that his tears have started to blur the words of the story. Jill gallantly intervenes only to land herself in the middle of a particularly dangerous page. But with Dog at her side, nothing is too difficult for Jill to conquer. Another charming story from rising illustration talent Lesley Barnes, Jill & Lion shows it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Another of our artist’s projects that we are following closely is Lizzy Stewart‘s Illustrations for Short Stories she enjoys. Lizzy’s work is fantastic, effortless-seeming, and detailed, and we are excited to see more. The below illustrations represent a story by Jamaica Kincaid–“Figures in the Distance,” and “Fugue” by Thomas Morris. You can view all of her (constantly updating) short story illustrations on her blog.
If you’re following Josie Portillo on Instagram, you may have caught this little glimpse of a work-in-progress for Red Cap’s holiday collection. We love seeing works in progress like this and learning about our artists’ creative processes. It’s also awesome to compare the beginning with the final result–what changed? And what creative decisions do the artists make to better the finished product? You can view the completed card here: Village Skating.
Woo hoo! It’s a great week on Instagram. We love following along with all of our artists, because it makes it easy to take sneak peeks at what they are working on along the way. We get to honor their individual processes and get a little glimpse in the process. And not just artists–we also love to see what bloggers and more are up to. This week…we’ve been in on the action as well!
This past weekend, we were excited to support Avery & Augustine’s Little LitFest (#littlelitfest), which fosters community through the love of children’s literature. The attendees to the event packed sunny yellow suitcases with items from Lately Lily, Isabel Roxas, Scout Books, Sakura and Zig Zag City Guides, as well as our cards by author/illustrator, Jon Klassen, and illustrator, Christian Robinson.
Plus, some inspiration from Anke Weckmann, who released another Sketchbook video on her Youtube channel. Makes us want to get to work!:
Last but certainly not least, we are getting in the mood for the upcoming holidays. We know it’s only September, but we just can’t resist! Keep following our feed for more photos of our new holiday collection. Or check out the entire lot, here.
Do you look forward to the Enormous Tiny Art Show each year like we do? We are always proud to see our Red Cap artists in the show, and this year is no different–we are delighted that Red Cap artists, Becca Stadtlander, Dinara Mirtalipova, and Yelena Bryksenkova will be showcasing new works. The show is held year-round at Nahcotta, a gallery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and will open this year on Friday, September 2nd from 5-8pm. It features hundreds of works of “tiny” art–10″ x 10″ and smaller by some of the most talented artists working today.
Can’t get out to Portsmouth? Never fear. They actually showcase their entire Enormous Tiny Art Collection online, and you can purchase original works right there on their site. Click here to see more. We grabbed a few favorite photos below, but be sure to view the entire, amazing collection.
Works above by Becca Stadtlander
Works above by Dinara Mirtalipova
Works above by Yelena Bryksenkova.
All art works above are courtesy and property of the artists.
We have been waiting for this moment for what feels like ages, and are so excited to share what we’ve been working on. You may have seen a few sneak peeks on our Instagram and Facebook, but now we are excited to invite you to view our entire new collection here on the website or in our new Summer 2016 Catalog on Issuu.
The new, vibrant collection includes twenty-two wrapping papers, sixteen gold-foil stamped, blank-sheet notebooks, and twenty-three greeting cards designed by our talented, collaborative artists. These papers, notebooks, and cards were all cohesively created to compliment one another, and are perfect for gifting, creative projects, and more. We’ve pulled a few favorite images to show you below.
Also, don’t forget to swing by the Crow & Canary Booth if you happen to be in New York for the big NY Now Show this weekend. All of our new products will be showcased at Booth No. 7614.
We hope you enjoy this late Summer gift from us to you!
We are excited to announce that our new collection of gift wrap, notebooks, and cards will be showcased at the upcoming NY NOW Show in New York City this weekend! If you’ll be in the city for the show (lucky you!) then make sure to stop by the Crow & Canary Booth No. 7614 to view the entire collection, plus many other designers that we adore.
For those of you who aren’t traveling to the Big Apple, the entire collection will be on our website and available for viewing and purchase in the next couple of days. We can’t wait to show you! These patterns make us weak in the knees, and we’re sure you’ll feel the same way.
Stay close…there’s more to come!
We are elated to be featured on the amazing Oh So Beautiful Paper‘s “Behind the Stationery” Series this week. Carrie and Hal are sharing their trade secrets over on the Oh So Beautiful Paper blog, explaining everything from the origin story of Red Cap, the company’s creative process, and what it takes to make a piece of art work into a physical product. Also, we’re offering our first sneak peek of the brand new collection of gift wrap, notebooks, and cards that will be debuting at this month’s NY NOW Show at the Crow & Canary booth. Click over to Oh So Beautiful Paper to view a snippet of the collection and read our story. And stay tuned for more photos our new products, here.
We are always enthralled by all of the different creative roads that our artists take to create their stunning works of art. Whether it be collage, watercolor, pen and ink, gouache, or acrylic, each method of expression is unique and imperative to molding the artists’ vision. It’s always fascinating to us how many mediums can go into one piece of art for a lot of our artists. See below for the different types of artistic methods that some of our artists use to create, and how a few raw materials can come together to create magic.
Collage: a piece of art made by sticking various different materials such as photographs and pieces of paper or fabric onto a backing.
“Paper cut-out might be my favorite. I love the texture and simplicity of collage. Cut-outs force me to design simple and rely more on basic shapes to communicate.” —Christian Robinson
“Lately I like working with collage, inks and pencils.” —Blanca Gómez
Gouache: a method of painting using opaque pigments ground in water and thickened with a glue-like substance.
“I’m in love with gouache. I like using lots of different opacity layers when illustrating and think gouache lends itself so nicely to that. I work digitally most of the time but like to incorporate some traditional paint layers in the beginning of my process. Because gouache can be such a tricky medium the results can be a lot more organic, fun and unexpected.” —Josie Portillo
“When I pick ‘just a few’ colors for a ‘limited’ palette. HAHA” —Becca Stadtlander
Watercolor: artists’ paint made with a water-soluble binder such as gum arabic, and thinned with water rather than oil, giving a transparent color.
“Drawing, painting, and illustrating would be what I am most invested in. My drawing practice in particular which I consider different my from my illustration practice though they over lap in a big way. Other mediums weave their way into my practice. I grew up doing so much crafting that it feel natural to jump between mediums and do a range of things. I also grew up in a ‘do it yourself’ family. I have very talented parents and between the two of them and their different skills, they could make almost anything. If I went to the mall as a kid with my mom and liked something she’d say ‘We can make that’ and that went for a lot of things in our house. So when I see things I like or have an idea for clothing, jewellery, ceramics that I want in my wardrobe, kitchen, life it is my instinct to try and make it myself. Those avenues then bleed into my 2d work and vice versa.” —Sarah Burwash
“Most of my works are done by watercolours. I enjoy them the most, though I also draw a little with ink and do collage.” —Anna Emilia Laitinen
“I love watercolour, I love using it wrong; painting with scrubby, dried out brushes, loading on too much paint, making textural work out of a medium meant for washes. I’m also very very fond of a straightforward pencil. The simplicity of it is so satisfying.” —Lizzy Stewart
Pen and pencil: denoting a drawing or sketch that is done using a pen or a pencil.
“Pencil and paper, I don’t think I’ll ever get over the satisfaction of making a picture appear on blank paper. It still feels like magic. My other favorite as I mentioned is silkscreening, with it’s flexibility and bold blocky colors.” —James Gulliver Hancock
“I sketch in pencil (2B, usually), artwork using a brush with black drawing ink, and colour in photoshop. I love a bit of silkscreen printing too, but I rarely make time for that anymore, sadly.” —Nicholas John Frith
It’s time for another Arlo’s Book Club! With the 45th Annual Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference coming up this weekend in Los Angeles, we thought we’d dedicate this one to the art of “making it work.” Picture book artists and illustrators are some of the brightest and most hard-working people we know. We honor them today with our story picks that feature characters who are making it work … or at least are learning how to! See below:
Julia, Child by Kyo Maclear with illustrations by Julie Morstad.
This one is a delectable treat, with a sweet story by Kyo Maclear and gorgeous imagery by illustrator, Julie Morstad. Two friends discover that not all adults have the “proper ingredients” while they work to bring them all together over a fine dinner and petite gâteau. This one holds life lessons in abundance and is absolutely beautiful in the process.
The Little Red Hen (Little Golden Book), edited by Diane Muldrow with illustrations by J.P. Miller
Most young readers know this classic story of a hard-working hen who requests help from a lazy duck, pig and cat, who are eager to reap the bounty that the hen has sowed, but not eager to help in the process. It’s the perfect story for kids about learning to apply patience and hard work to find a glorious end. The characters and environments are brought vibrantly to life by mid-century illustrator, J.P. Miller.
The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora
Brand new to bookshops and libraries everywhere is The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah OHora (of Wolfie the Bunny fame). Two library-loving pals teach a book-gobbling monster about how to properly read books and eat desserts instead. This one is hilarious, and also features museum-quality, colorful illustrations that we love!
Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli
Sam is a race car driver who can’t be beat…until he is! Sam learns valuable lessons in this modern story about humility, talent, and how to be a good sport in the game you love the most. We love Pizzoli’s streamlined style and fresh color palette. This one is a winner.
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Swimmy is the only fish in his happy little school who survives an attack by a bigger fish. He makes it his mission to explore the sea and teach other fish how to defend themselves from predators using wit and teamwork in this classic from visionary, Leo Lionni. You can see more from Leo Lionni in his Master’s Showcase post.
It’s been a bit since we have featured a Shop We Love on our blog, but today we are doing just that! Say hello to Young Blood Boutique. You know those spaces that are so inspired that you find it feels like a breath of fresh air? Young Blood is one of those spaces. Gorgeous, white, and filled with hand-crafted art and design pieces, Young Blood is a unique artist-run retail shop in Atlanta, Georgia. Their photos make us want to grab one of everything–and that Fiddle Leaf Fig! Make sure to follow them on Instagram for a daily dose of their beautiful style.
Visit Young Blood Boutique’s online shop for jewelry pieces, but if you’re looking to see their entire product line, you’ll have to visit their shop in person. See below for some eye-candy shots of the shop, their social media information, and some lovely photos of their collection of Red Cap Cards (we love that styled photo of Jon Klassen’s crab congrats card!). Thank you so much, Young Blood, for being amazing!
Photos courtesy of Young Blood Boutique