We recently reviewed ‘My Yellow Umbrella’ by Chris Robertson and he kindly agreed to answer just a few of our random questions. Hopefully, they’re not too random and we loved Chris’s answers. Enjoy!
Chris’s other books include “Little Miss Liberty”, “Kit and Kaboodle”, and “The Tooth That’s on the Loose!” and “Pandora’s Box” with author Julia Dweck.
PBB: We love your style of illustration, how would you describe it?
CR: Why, thank you Sarah for the kind words. I suppose I would have to describe my style as refreshingly vintage. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the illustrators of my childhood. I love the works of Bill Peet, Mary Blair, Virginia Burton, Margret and H.A. Rey, Roger Duvoisin, and Ludwig Bemelmans. Of course, the early animated films of Walt Disney and the Warner Bros. cartoons starring Bugs Bunny affected my cartoon and illustration sensibilities more than I could ever have imagined.
PBB: My Yellow Umbrella was based on a 1956 film called ‘The Red Balloon’, where else do you find inspiration for your stories?
CR: Actually, there are several major influences for the
creation of My Yellow Umbrella. First and foremost is the work of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her Beckoning of Lovely Project. Secondly, I would have to say the 1991 environmental exhibit of Christo’s yellow umbrellas. And then, almost subconsciously, was probably ‘The Red Balloon’ because I know I had seen it as a child, but it wasn’t until I started working on the project that I was again reminded of the film. The biggest influence and inspiration, for any of my stories, has to be my family. I seem to be going through a creative resurgence of late and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we have a two and a half year old running around the house.
PBB: Who is your favourite illustrator at the moment and what do you like about their work?
CR: It’s hard to mention just one. Because I am not only an illustrator, but a huge fan of the art of illustration, I am always being drawn to (pun intended) my peers and contemporaries who’s work I admire and/or appreciate. Peter H. Reynolds is definitely at the top of my list. He creates books that seem to be not only good for children, but good for the soul. Some of my other top favorites would be David Small, Oliver Jeffers, Helen Stephens, William Joyce, and Jim LaMarche.
PBB: What is the best and worst bit about writing and illustrating your own book?
CR: The best thing about illustrating my own book would have to be that I don’t have to worry about what the author might think of my illustrations. Plus, I have to say that I’m more comfortable illustrating my own stories simply because when I am creating a story, even if I don’t draw the illustrations first, I still ‘think’ visually while I write. That way I don’t have to write every word that comes to mind; I can ‘fill in the blanks’ with the pictures. I don’t know about it being the worst part, because I don’t think of it being a bad journey, but finding a publisher has definitely been the most challenging of this whole process. Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to find representation in The Bright Group, in addition to having collaborated with the wonderful Xist Publishing.
PBB: Most illustrators have at least one thing they don’t like drawing, their nemesis, do you have one and if so, what is it?
CR: That is so easy, I can’t even tell you! So I’m not going to. No, seriously….it’s anything that has wheels and a motor……aka CARS!!!! And helicopters. They tend to end up looking like flying toilets.
Big thanks to Chris for answering our questions and giving us an insight into how he works, who he rates and his flying toilets
Find out more about Chris and his other books here