When I was 8 years old… I got my first pair of glasses. But I really, Really, REALLY didn't want to wear them. So, for a few years, I kept them in my pocket whenever my parents were out of sight. And as a result, more and more other things were out of sight too! I can see in my mind's eye, (more clearly than my vision would ever allow), the countless times my friend Rhonda, whispered the contents of the blackboard to me in Miss Ishmael's science class, so I wouldn't have to wear my specs.
So when I saw Eric Barclay's latest book- I CAN SEE JUST FINE- I saw a book I would love to have seen (literally) way back when!
For, whether he's creating in 2D...
Eric Barclay is an artist who's work is on the go!
But today he's kindly agreed to stop in and answer a few Mini Interview questions...
1. Which books- that were your favorites when you were little- have had the greatest influence on your work?
I think my all time favorite book was ARE YOU MY MOTHER by P.D. Eastman. But I also Loved SNOW by Roy McKie and P.D. Eastman, FREDERICK by Leo Lionni, and anything illustrated by Syd Hoff. These illustrators (and more!) have influenced my own style; I love how each of the aforementioned kept their illustrations simple and to the point.
2. Please share an instance in which the seed of an idea or experience, (though small at the start), took root, and grew to become one of your books.
Several years ago I drew an elephant for an IllustrationFriday.com post; that elephant was the prototype for the titular character in my book, HIDING PHIL. And my daughter’s experience getting glasses inspired me to write I CAN SEE JUST FINE.
3. Do you ever tuck little personal homages or details in your illustrations? Please give us a peek at one of your favorites.
The main character in I CAN SEE JUST FINE (also named Paige) is basically a cartoon version my daughter, the “real” Paige.
And, being from Texas, I like to sneak little Texas references in whenever I can. In HIDING PHIL, there is a bus with a destination displayed as Texas, and in I CAN SEE JUST FINE, there is a certificate on the wall in the Optometrist office which shows the state of Texas on it.
4. Could you describe your work-a-day routine, and tell us the one little thing you absolutely cannot begin your day without. (Besides caffeine ;)
Some days I begin my workday sketching or just drawing positive and negative space. Other times I may just go right to work on an illustration or story I’m writing as soon as I hit the chair. This is such a deadline-oriented business that my routine changes a LOT depending what I’m working on.
5. Please describe your work as an author-illustrator in 5 words:
Busy hands are happy hands.
6. I loved following the adventures of the "Hotel for Lizards" this summer. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired your family's foray into reptilian resort living? And will we see any of the guests featured in future books?
My daughters really wanted a bearded dragon as a pet, but my wife and I just didn’t want a giant lizard with a 10-year lifespan. As a compromise (and so they could see what caring for a reptile involves), we got a terrarium and let them catch and keep ‘local’ reptiles and amphibians for a week at a time. They learned about each species and kept a blog about their experiences. By the end of the summer they were a little tired of live crickets and meal worms, but they learned a lot about the world around them and became experts at catching lizards, snakes, and frogs. I don’t know if the experience will turn into a book, but I do think we need more snakes in children’s literature.
And we could do with more books by Eric Barclay too!
If you'd like see more of Eric's work, put on your glasses, and visit his blog