I'm not sure if it's an occupational hazard of being a children's book editor but every once in a while I develop a crush on an illustrator---not your standard secret-love-note heart-in-your-throat wanna-get-married-and-have-babies crushes. No! More like a visual crush. A visiting-their-website-three-times-a-day crush. A desperately-want-to-find-a-book-to-have-them-illustrate crush. Of course I have my list of favorite illustrators, many of whom I'm too shy to introduce myself formally to and must admire from the digital version of 'across the room.' But every few months or so, there's one illustrator I find myself obsessing about. Instead of the adolescent anx of 'Does he like me?', I ask myself, 'Would he or she work with me?' Mostly, though, I just look at the pretty pictures and salivate.
My latest illustrator crush is Ian Benfold Haywood. I love the quirky elegance of his style---light, loose lines but textured with collage elements. I love the cottony beard and cheery red Victorian parlor of his Santa Claus.
Another favorite is the little red-headed girl on the beach, by the old stately European hotel. It makes me think of Nabokov and Roald Dahl's The Witches. It has a very Old Europe feel.
Every once in a while, an illustrator will put a few of their sketchbook pages on their sites and I find that quite a treat. Sketches have a spontaneity and unselfconsciousness all their own. Check out these funny rabbit fellows from one of Mr. Haywood's sketchbooks:
These guys may never have a story of their own but in sketch form they provoke the imagination to wander and wonder: the bonneted bunny has a serious little determined look on his face. There looks to be the start of a mask on the middle rabbit---was he putting on a disguise? And what of the feathered head-dress of the third bunny?
I don't love everything about my job---but I do love some things: illustrator crushes are one of those things. And they're much less humiliating than the adolescent kind.
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