Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I get a lot of those email surveys and questionnaires from Facebook and LinkedIn and so on. To be very honest, I hate those things (really). I guess I am pleased you guys want to know so much about me but I really don't like talking about myself. So to quell these inquiries and because I know I'll never be interviewed by CDB, I have decided to post an interview that was done by the North/Central Ca Society Of Children's Book Wrters and Illustrators last year. If you don't like reading you can stop now and I certainly won't be offended. Enjoy...

According to the dictionary, an illustrator is one who illuminates, clarifies or uses the visual arts to demonstrate ideas. Whether robots, animals, ships, or you-name-it, animator/illustrator, Jeff S. Jackson imagines a concept, grabs his favorite #935 Prismacolor pencil or revs up his computer, brews a never-ending pot of coffee, then zaps life into ideas. Like many authors and illustrators, his art is done while multi-tasking other jobs, parenting, and volunteer work such as being the Graphics Designer for our Acorn online magazine.
After graduating from San Jose State College, Jeff has worked as both an animator and illustrator for a wide range of clients: Hallmark Cards Inc., The Nature Company, Wizard Magazine and the Seaside Police Department. In the year 2000, his first picture book debuted from Hoopoe Books, The Silly Chicken, a Central Asian tale retold by Idries Shah. In this book, Jeff takes his humor and love of drawing animals to a delightful level, partnering seamlessly with Shah's "the sky is falling" storyline.
Jeff started in animation as a traditional effects animator. He has taught storyboarding, figure and animal drawing as well as other subjects at Cogswell College in Sunnyvale. He also enjoys coordinating Zoo Sketch Crawl events (aka ZSCs) where students and illustrators spend a day at local zoos, sketching animals then critiquing their works. Check out Jeff's gallery at www.sonjebasa.net or his blog at http://sonjebasa.blogspot.com/

Here's Inside the Illustrator's Cranium, Jeff S. Jackson in his own words:

1. What's your favorite word?
I love words that have a sense of flow like slugabed, disingenuous, superfluous, mellifluous, and tensor fasciae latae. I also love onomatopoetic words like Blam, Whoosh, Boing, pow, and "kazzzzzzzzzzooooooooooshah!"
2. What's your least favorite word?
I really hate words that depersonalize human acts between two or more people like gifting or words that condense a group effort into a single moment that can be checked off on a clipboard like animations.
3. Describe your artist statement.
"Coffee. I love you, coffee."
4. Describe your work ethic in regards to your art:
Let's see, after the kid goes down for nap and when grading is all done, I jump into what I have on the board or on the computer and try to get something done…nuts, the kid's awake or the toilet is overflowing…guess I'll have to stay up (see number 3).
5. What is your favorite medium and why?
I work a lot in Photoshop or Painter now. My favorite tool is still a black #935 Prismacolor pencil.
6. Any tips on using that medium?
Buy Prismacolors by the box, it's cheaper. Try working on animation paper or layout bond paper.
7. Any tips on illustrating?
Try to learn something from each project, whether it's about the subject you are illustrating or about the medium. That will keep it from seeming like a job.
8. What's your favorite book?
This week's fav: Pi-Shu; the Little Panda by John Butler. The one I like to read again and again, Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo.
9. What inspires you to create your art?
Other than the need to eat? I have been teaching a lot lately and I love it. To be able to relay concepts and see my students begin to apply what they have learned and get better in the process is very inspiring.
10. Who are your favorite painters and/or composers?
There is not enough room here to even begin a list. The golden age illustrators like Dean Cornwell always beckon to me, as do masters like Jose Jimenez y Aranda, Vermeer, Caravaggio and Velazquez and some modern day wonders like Joy Allen, Janet Stevens and Daniel San Souchi.
11. Who are your real life heroes?
My dad. He is such a great dad (and now grandpa) that he is the bar to which I measure everything. And anyone who doesn't use words like...gifting and animations.
12. What intrigues you?
Why on earth I would be asked to fill out this questionnaire when there are some many other truly incredible and talented folks out there who would be waaay more interesting than myself.
13. What profession/job other than illustrating would you like to try?
I have always wanted to work as an ice cream flavor tester.
14. What profession/job would you never try?
The person who squishes lemons for lemonade at Hot Dog On A Stick.
15. Assuming there will be an afterlife, whom would you like to meet and why?
Hmmm...see question 10. I would love to get J.S. Sargent, Charles Dana Gibson, N. C. Wyeth, Illya Repin, Rembrant van Rjin, Dean Cornwell, Bill Peet, Tyrus Wong, Edgar Degas, Howard Pyle, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, and Marc Davis in the same room so we could all talk shop.
16. What is your favorite work motto/mantra?
Mind over matter-if I don't mind, it won't matter.

Wow, wasn't that great? That was actually edited, I think there were like 20 questions but article space and the fact that everybody kept nodding off forced it to be condensed. NPR actually interviewed Cookie Monster with the same questions, the best interview I have heard in a long long time. I tell you what, if you want to be interviewed by me, let me know and I'll be most happy to post it.

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