Interview with Debut Illustrator Eric C. Jackson
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: January 10, 2013
Eric C. Jackson is a graduate from The Art Institute of California where he evenly split time studying Digital Photography and Graphic Design. He talked to TCBR about his latest endeavor, using his design skills, he has created a wordless children’s picture book that he hopes will have children laughing and smiling.
Bianca Schulze: Welcome to TCBR. Let’s get started by getting to know a little bit about who you are and how you came to write Chompy Goes to School.
Eric C. Jackson: First, thank you so much for this opportunity. I’m a South Florida native; I have a passion for art and writing. I try to combine these in storytelling. Simply walking through life, I noticed the smiles and laughter of children really brightened even some of my worst days. I decided to illustrate a book that would bring that smile and laughter out even more. Perhaps, this is giving back to them in a way.
BS: Using only pictures, readers are introduced to the letters of the alphabet. By eliminating the text, your hope is that readers will create their own dialogue and make each story-time a unique experience. While the possibilities of a wordless picture book are vast, how would you define the underlying story told through your artwork?
ECJ: As a teen, I enjoyed visiting fine art galleries. Without any words, the photographer, painter, and sculptor could relay a message to me without any words at all. I realize that this is risky when presenting art to young children. However, in my mind, I simply want children to tell us what they see. Whether it’s a mountain, a table, or a letter, they have the ability to put all the elements in the scene together and recognize what is taking place. I admit, it may be unusual at first, but I am confident that the storyline is easy to follow.
BS: The Chompys are a unique set of characters. From where did you draw your inspiration for these little guys?
ECJ: Growing up, I loved watching “Looney Tunes.” For me, the scenes that stand out the most are the zany, over-the-top, silly moments. Daffy Duck would annoy someone to no end and break out into a weird dance. These cartoons still make me laugh today. I want to try to give children of newer generations a character that can make them laugh like this.
BS: Which alphabet letter experience would you say is the most entertaining moment in the book?
ECJ: Without a doubt, the illustration spread featuring “Ii” and “Jj” is my favorite. It encompasses the heart of what I wanted to do throughout the story. The letters are integrated into the scene in a way that they do not take away from the storyline. Also, the energy and ability of the Chompys are shown at their climax.
BS: From the conception of the idea to published work, how long did it take you to complete Chompy Goes to School?
ECJ: I have to give the backstory first. The idea was born in one of my design classes at The Art Institute in 2010. The assignment was to create an original character for a children’s cereal box. I ended up with Chompy holding a spoon in one hand while an entire bowl of cereal was in its mouth. My classmates liked it and the seed was planted to create for story. April 2012, I had more free time to spend on nothing else, but creating the book. By mid-June, it was finished.
BS: After a visit to your website it is easy to see that you are a man of the arts: photography, design, and the written word. What techniques did you use to create the artwork in your book?
ECJ: It started with character and storyboard sketches. I drew the book cover before the interior pages to make sure the look of the character fit what I had in mind. Afterwards, the pages were scanned, then drawn and colored in PhotoShop.
BS: Where do you think your love of the arts came from? Do you have a favorite artist, photographer or writer—one that inspired your own artwork and writing, perhaps?
ECJ: My mom can sketch very well and did so as a hobby when I was young. I’m not as talented in drawing, yet I have inherited some of her passion for art. Inspiration comes from many different sources in my life depending on my interest. In writing, I like Ted Dekker. I love Ken Duncan’s landscape photography work! With art, I like quality concept work for various films.
BS: What would you say surprises you the most about the book publishing process?
ECJ: This being my first illustrated book, I was surprised at how difficult it was to make the images fit into a book correctly. After all of my preparation, it was still the most frustrating part of the process. What was on my computer screen needed to translate to the physical book flawlessly. Easier said than done. It does take more “finesse” than I thought.
BS: Should we expect to see more books starring the Chompys in the future?
ECJ: The ideas are there for new books. My main concern is quality over quantity. I simply do not want to make more books just to say I have. Still, the work of Charles M. Schulz, what he was able to do with “The Peanuts Gang,” has been a huge inspiration for me lately. If I make a larger storyline with the Chompys, I want to do it right.
BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
ECJ: Two things: do not be afraid of your own dreams and do not think too much. What makes people like Walt Disney so great is they dare to make their enormous ideas come to life one step at a time. If you think about the sheer size of the dream too much, you’ll stop yourself before you start. Take the first step and see where it leads you. Thank you so much for your time. I hope you enjoy the book.
To learn more about Eric C. Jackson and Chompy Goes to School, visit: http://ecjGallery.com
Socialize on Facebook, too: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chompys-World
Chompy Goes to School Press Release: https://www.thechildrensbookreview.com
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