The wonderment of children is easy to see when they read a book or have it read to them. That wonderment is shared and admired by the writers and illustrators of children’s literature. I am a great admirer of the children’s picture book genre and have been a member of SCBWI or Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The following is the first of what I hope are many interview style Blogs about interesting people who I’ve met through the course of following my many interests from arts to science. This first is of an illustrator, graphic artist, who has done illustrations for chapter books, and pictures books alike.
Roberta Rivera is an illustrator. She spent her life dedicated to this fine art. In fact she has a BFA, Bachelor of Fine Arts from Kansas City Art Institute. I’ve always wondered what my life would have been like if I majored in Drama and pursued the Arts. Just as prolific as Meryl Streep one would hope. The life of an artist is not always smooth, self doubt is common as is lack of steady work. Roberta is married and lives on Long Island but her professional pursuits take her into New York City and the boroughs for work, classes and art exhibitions. Right now through May 30 there is an exhibition of her work and other illustrators showing at the Poe Center For the Arts in the Bronx, NY call 718-365-5545 for more information.
Here were the questions I asked her and her answers:
KV: How long have you been doing illustrations?
RR: I’ve been illustrating most of my life. Even as a child I had a pencil, brush or marker in my hand and was scribbling away. My parents would encourage me to enter art contests. I would go to the public library in my home town in Connecticut and pour over children’s picture books and read chapter books and middle grade. Professionally now for 20 years.
KV: When did you know that illustrating or drawing was a talent you had?
RR: My drive to be an illustrator/artist stemmed from wanting to keep up with my older sisters. They were and still are marvelous artists. It was probably when I was in 6th or 7th grade when my sister Leigh came home from art school, with her portfolio to show my family. She had a picture book dummy called “Friends” which I kept until my nephew went off to college and then I gave it to him. I passed the magic on. I’ve done odd jobs and had a decorative art business along the way to pay the bills.
KV: If you could do anything for a living what would it be if not an illustrator?
RR: Zumba instructor! No, just joking. I would like to try animation.
KV: Who are some of your favorite children’s picture book authors and illustrators?
RR: I’ll go with the classics Beatrix Potter, Wanda Gag, Maurice Sendak, Virginia Lee Burton, Robert McCloskey and Ernest Shepard.
KV: Who is Ernest Shepard?
RR: He is the original illustrator of Winnie the Pooh he’s on top of my list of favorite classic illustrators. I was told by an art director last November that my work reminded her of Ernest Shepard. What a compliment! She wanted to see more of it.
KV: If you could travel anywhere in the world with all expenses paid, where would you go?
RR: Another trick question! There are so many beautiful and exotic places but why not the Fiji Islands. After this rough winter I sure could use a vacation.
Thank you Roberta! We all could use a vacation after this winter!
(Thank you to Roberta Rivera. To find out more about Roberta’s work please go to her website and see more wonderful illustrations like the ones on this Blog – http://www.robertariveraart.com )