Up-and-Coming Illustrator Ben Clanton, and 7 Imp’s 7 Kicks

By Jules


Welcome to 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks, a meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. Whew. As this is written, it’s the first Sunday of August, and the first Sunday of each month is when I like to shine the spotlight on a student illustrator or someone otherwise brand-new to the field. Let’s get right to today’s featured illustrator, Ben Clanton, who—according to his site (http://benclanton.blogspot.com/)—has spent most of his time in Oregon and Montana classrooms. But he tells us a bit more below, so without further ado…Welcome to Ben:

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“Ahoy! I’m Ben, a story-scribbler, picture-squiggler, book aficionado, child advocate, dragon-tamer (if only), and avid fun-socks wearer. I’m also a huge fan of the 7-Imp blog and am really glad to have this opportunity to share a bit about my stories and artwork.

I’m a self-taught author/illustrator but have had lots of support along the way. I first became interested in writing children’s books about three years ago. As my interest in picture books and other children’s lit grew, I became more and more interested in the interplay between words and pictures. Soon I began to make doodles when coming up with stories. Now I draw even more than I write. I especially love drawing monsters, aliens, and robots.

These illustrations {below} are all from a dummy book of mine about a robot named Gizmo and his new friend, Wild. The second image is a good indicator of my process in creating a book. I hand-sketch my rough illustrations and then play around with the design on Photoshop. The interplay between words and pictures is really important to me when thinking about this early stage:




Cats and birds are among my favorites to draw, too. I usually use ink and watercolor, but I like to be adventurous by splashing and dipping in other media as well.

These are a couple illustrations from my latest dummy book, which I am not ready to reveal too much about yet. {Ed. Note: Click each of these two images to enlarge.}



I’m not published yet but feel really good about the direction I am headed. I have oodles of story ideas right now and have a number of dummy books I have been working on. In a few weeks, I will be marrying the love of my life and moving to Seattle to start work at a before- and after-school program. I’m really excited about working with kids on a daily basis. I think I like facilitating moments for kids to create their own stories even more than I like making my stories. And I LOVE making my stories, so that is really saying something!


There are a lot of illustrators and/or authors whom I admire and whose work I enjoy but these are some of my all time faves: David Roberts, Chris Riddell, Jon J Muth, Peter H. Reynolds, Suzy Lee, Bill Peet, Mo Willems, Tony DiTerlizzi, Mark Fearing, Carolyn Conahan, Oliver Jeffers, Holly Hobbie, David Walker, Kei Acedera, LeUyen Pham, Peter McCarty, Dan Santat, Brandon Mull, David Small, Stephen Michael King, Peter Brown, Martin Matje, Olivier Tallec, Marc Boutavant, Jen Corace, Alexandra Boiger, Tricia Tusa. Hard to stop, once I get started!


Thanks for taking a look! You can find more about me at: benclanton.blogspot.com. (http://benclanton.blogspot.com/)”

All images copyright © 2010 Ben Clanton. All rights reserved.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1). I thought this presentation at The University of Tennessee went well on Friday of this week, and I had fun. I mean, really: How often does one get asked to talk about her favorite picture books (which is pretty much what I do here at the ‘ol blawg anymore) and rave about her favorite authors and illustrators? I talked very fast—yet the sign language interpreters, former colleagues of mine, did not, indeed, kill me afterwards—and I crammed in lots of books and showed lots of art from them. Best of all, I got to hear my former librarian colleagues talk the rest of the day about novels and YA titles.

2). I got to see friends while in town, including staying the evening with two friends of mine who have an obscenely cute seven-month-old baby, who SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT, a phenomenon I do not understand. I mean to tell you, too, so listen up, friends: This baby is beautiful.

3). My six-year-old is really into this read-aloud (which Candlewick just released in the U.S. in paperback form). Who knew? I’m having fun reading it to her. And, speaking of Chris Riddell (which Ben did), he’s illustrated this re-telling by Martin Jenkins. (I like how this reviewer wrote in ‘04, when the book was very first published overseas, “Observer cartoonist Chris Riddell accompanies the text with suitably spiky illustrations.”)


7-imp-104). After reading this wonderful book (pictured left) to my girls (did someone here, by the way, recommend it?), I followed the “golden syrup dumplings for the soul” recipe in the back of the book. The girls turned their noses up at the final product, but I very much enjoyed them, especially with vanilla ice cream. See? Mmm.

5). Helping people connect, especially in support of this great project.

6). Last, but far from least: New music. If this song doesn’t make you dance around the room, you need … well, some coffee. And then try again. Also, this CD, which I listened to all the way through this week and which will be streaming over there till early August. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (www.johnmendelsohn.com)
Website Design: Kieran McGee (www.kieranmcgee.com)
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024