Where are they now: Christopher Silas Neal
Oh, the book covers. My, my.
PD: What have you been up to with your work in the past two years?
CN: I signed a two book deal with Candlewick to write and illustrate picture books. I've finished writing and drawing the first book and am waiting for proofs. It's called "Everyone " and its about our emotions and how what we feel effects the world around us. It's scheduled to release in spring 2016. Aside from that, I've been working on book covers, posters, editorial art and writing more stories. The most important thing I've accomplished in the last two years is I made a human being. He's named Jasper; he's one-and-a-half years old and he is so awesome.
PD: What are you hoping to achieve with your work in the next few years?
CN: I hope to write and illustrate many more books and hopefully evolve as an artist while doing it. I still love what I do and enjoy going to my studio, so I hope that feeling continues.
Chris' vines are crazy delicious.
PD: How does your mood affect your work? Do you find it skewing one way or another from time to time?
CN: In my experience, the idea of the tortured artist who transforms feelings of misery and despair into transcendent works of art certainly does not ring true. In fact, if my life is a mess, my art suffers as well. It's only when my life is balanced and my mind is clear that I can really focus on being creative. It's hard to concentrate on drawing if you're over run with anxiety, pain, or sadness. Even though art can be an escape, I'm not sure making art creates peacefulness, but art is a great way to nurture and cultivate it. You have to find peace on your own; creativity helps you stay there longer. Illustrators spend a lot of time solving problems so the process has it's own challenges. Frustration, mental hurdles, misfires—these are part of the creative exercise. Stepping to the drawing table in a good mood helps.
Colors sweet like lemonade.
PD: What have you been reading/listening to/watching lately?
CN: I've been watching Friends from start to finish. I need something funny and easy to digest before heading to bed. If I watch or read something too heavy, I'll be up all night thinking about it. Lately, Joey, Ross, Monica, and Rachel have been the perfect lullaby. I hadn't seen the show since it aired in the '90s and I have to say, it really holds up except for the laugh track and the hair. I'm up to season six.
PD: What was your favorite children’s book?
CN: One of my favorites was, and still is, Frederick by Leo Lionni. It's a quiet and poetic story about field mice preparing for winter. While the other mice gather nuts, corn, and wheat, Frederick gathers words, colors, and sunshine. In the dead of winter, after all the food has been eaten, Frederick nourishes the other mice with a poem based on what he had collected in his mind.
Chris recently illustrated a children's book of his own,
perfect for reading Jasper to sleep.
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