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In illustrations and brief text, enumerates a number of different things that are okay, such as ...
In illustrations and brief text, enumerates a number of different things that are okay, such as "It's okay to be short" and "It's okay to dream big."
His work is colorful, quirky, and kid-friendly -- and he firmly believes you should "Be Who You Are." He's up-and-coming artist Todd Parr, and he's been connecting with kids everywhere! Parr is the author of fabulous board books that promote self-confidence and tolerance, including: Do's and Don'ts, This is My Hair, The Okay Book, and Things That Make You Feel Good/Things That Make You Feel Bad. His illustrations are bold, bright, and eye-catching, and his text is meaningful but light. It's a truly effective formula for engaging kids and encouraging them to feel good about themselves.
Barnes & Noble.com: Have you always been an artist? What kind of artistic training have you had?
Todd Parr: Yes. I have always been an artist. I have no formal training in art and was kicked out of art class in high school for not drawing and painting what the teacher wanted. I lacked the self-confidence to think I had a chance at a career in art.
B&N.com: Did you ever think you'd be a children's book author? How do you feel about this "new career"?
TP: No, I did not. I can't even spell, so the idea of being an "author" didn't enter my mind. About my new "career," I love it -- once I realized that it was okay that I was not a traditional storyteller and couldn't spell (thanks, Megan and Little, Brown [Todd's editor and publisher]!). It cleared the way for me to focus on my artwork and the messages behind it.
B&N.com: Can you give us a hint about your future books?
TP: My future books will be a lot like these (feel-good, positive messages about life, differences, self-confidence, and acceptance -- and cool new colors). I'm even doing a baby book that has lots of neat stuff in it.
B&N.com: It seems that you're a true example of how "being persistent pays off" (i.e., after San Francisco galleries rejected your work, you found placement for your work in local restaurants -- where a Macy's West buyer saw and liked your canvases and eventually built a boutique in her stores around your T-shirts, mugs, etc.). Were you ever tempted to give up? How did you stay motivated?
TP: I was sometimes tempted to give up, but as I look back now at where I started, I can't believe I did not give up because of what I have learned through this process. I stayed motivated by believing in myself and reminding myself that if I wanted something badly enough I could do it, and it was not going to be easy.
B&N.com: What kind of advice would you give to kids who want to be artists?
TP: Believe in yourself. Art is art, even if no one else likes what you do. If it makes you happy, stay with it. Don't give up. And surround yourself with your work to remind yourself of what makes you feel good.
B&N.com: How does it feel to now see your art everywhere (on everything from clothing to stationery to tabletop ceramics and home furnishings)?
TP: This has all been a long process, even though it sometimes seems like it all happened overnight. So the first time I went to the restaurant that had my artwork I just sat and stared, with goose bumps all over my body. But as time goes on and you work so hard, you forget sometimes what it feels like to accomplish all this.
B&N.com: You have been called the "Keith Haring for kids." How do you feel about that?
TP: I guess that's okay. Sometimes being compared to someone seems like you are copying them, but I really admired Keith Haring. I think in many ways, in the back of my mind, thinking about him and his work made me stronger.
B&N.com: Can you tell me a little about the F.A.O. Schwarz window display, "It's Okay to Be Different."
TP: This is the coolest thing for me to be in the windows of the coolest toy store in the world. This is a canvas not many artists get. F.A.O. really liked my work and the message "It's Okay to Be Different" and felt that it should be a big part of the art in the windows.
B&N.com: It seems the prevailing theme behind your art is "It's okay to be yourself, express yourself, and have fun doing it." Why is it personally so important for you to get this message out to kids?
TP: The message behind my work stemmed somewhat from my childhood because it was not okay for me to be who I was. I did not conform to the "norm" or want to be like everyone else. Things have not changed that much for kids today either; it seems harder for them. So in the process of doing what I'm doing in my work -- enjoying my life and being happy -- if I can help someone, especially kids, learn to believe in themselves, accept others, and learn not to hate, then maybe someone's life will be a little easier and maybe their dreams a little closer to coming true.
B&N.com: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me, Todd. Your books are really special, and we can't wait to see more of your work! (Jamie Levine)
Posted January 15, 2013
Posted September 18, 2011
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Posted December 25, 2011
No text was provided for this review.