Inside the Studio with Christopher Weyant, Illustrator of My Pillow Keeps Moving
The Children’s Book Review | January 19, 2018
A cartoonist for The New Yorker, Christopher Weyant’s work has been published worldwide in newspapers, magazines, books, and online. His cartoons are in permanent collection at The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Morgan Library & Museum in New York City. In 2015, he won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for his first illustrated children’s book, You Are (Not) Small, written by his wife, Anna Kang. Chris lives outside New York City with his wife and their two daughters.
Inside Christopher Weyant’s Studio
In my house, I have a little studio that is just big enough to hold all of my favorite stuff. In one corner, I have the drawing table that was my first purchase when I quit my “regular” job to become a cartoonist full-time. Scattered everywhere are lots of books, tchotchkes, tribal masks, globes, clocks, telephones and old, dried up pens/pencils/brushes that I can’t seem to throw out. It’s essentially a quirky, odd collection of curiosities which is probably also a pretty good description of my inner self.
On my walls, I tape sketches, drawings and drawings-in-progress to keep me focused on the book I’m working on or on an illustration that I’m trying to finish. For inspiration, I’ve hung original cartoons by some of my New Yorker cartoonist friends and, best of all, a steady supply of school art from my two daughters. In the middle of my studio is a 9-drawer fireman red, tool chest. Since I don’t have the space for large flat files, this tool chest works perfectly to house my art and most of my art supplies.
Christopher Weyant’s Creative Process
My creative process for writing cartoons and doing illustration is a little different, but both have one thing in common: coffee. Lots of it. When writing cartoons, I often go to a coffeeshop and stare at the page or at the patrons until my mind drifts and ideas begin to percolate. Once I have a enough material written, I’ll come back to my studio to start creating sketches and then applying watercolor washes for tone.
If I’m working on illustrating a book, the very first thing I do is work on creating the characters. I can go through a ridiculous number of iterations before I finally land on who they are and what they’ll look like. My only rule is that I’ll know them when I see them. Then, the night before I start sketching the story layout, I’ll read the manuscript one more time just before I go to bed. I like to sleep on it and have my subconscious do some of the heavy lifting during the night while I lazily snooze the hours away. In the morning, I’ll dedicate time to focus only on the book and try to sketch the story as quickly and loosely as possible. From there, I’ll tighten and tweak the sketches and layout over and over, adjusting for story direction, emotional beats and pagination issues. When it looks vaguely presentable, I’ll create the dummy. For final art, I use my light box to pencil and ink the illustrations and attempt to hold on to some of that looseness and energy from the first sketches. Later, I’ll watercolor pages in large batches, often late into the night when my family is asleep and the house is quiet. Eventually, miraculously, a book comes out of all this and then it’s time to start again.
Written by Laura Gehl
Illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Publisher’s Synopsis: A lonely man tries to buy a pillow . . . and ends up with a new best friend in this silly and sweet doggy tale, perfect for fans of Officer Buckle and Gloria.
Dogs make good pillows, don’t they?
A clever pup ends up in a cozy home, and she’ll do anything to stay there. She impersonates everything the lonely homeowner needs–a pillow, a footstool, a jacket. But in the end, being herself works best. Laura Gehl’s spare, humorous text and New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant’s expressive characters will leave young readers giggling and begging for more.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0425288245
Learn more at www.christopherweyant.com
Discover more books like “My Pillow Keeps Moving,” written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, on The Children’s Book Review by following along with our articles tagged with Christopher Weyant, Dogs, Humorous Books, and Laura Gehl. And be sure to check out more authors and illustrators featured in our Inside the Studio column.