Christopher Weyant’s acclaimed artwork has appeared everywhere from The New Yorker to the Whitney Museum to “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Chris’s first illustrated children’s book, You are (Not) Small, on which he collaborated with his wife, author Anna Kang, earned him a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. His latest, My Pillow Keeps Moving, written by Laura Gehl, is a sweet story of a doggie who finds a good home and is determined to do whatever she needs to stay there. If she needs to turn herself into a pillow, a footstool, even a jacket to prove her usefulness, so be it! In this installment of Meet the Illustrator, we chatted with Chris about his favorite illustration from My Pillow Keeps Moving, why he’s loving Matthew Cordell’s Wolf in the Snow, and how art helps little kids find their place in a big world.
What first made you excited about art?
I was a small kid and sometimes the world around me seemed like a big place. I think drawing and painting helped me understand and interpret the world and maybe gave me a little control, too. Being able to use my imagination to create my own worlds with their own creatures thrilled and excited me to no end. And it still does.
What’s your favorite thing to draw at the moment?
I’m really into drawing lots of dogs and cats these days. For My Pillow Keeps Moving, I drew a dog and cat who were buddies and now am working on another book, with author (and my wife) Anna Kang, about a dog and cat duo who don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. So, lots of dogs and lots of cats!
Which illustration from your latest book did you especially enjoy creating?
One of my favorite illustrations was when the man in our book shares his dinner with his new dog friend, Jackie. It was a sweet moment between the two and reminded me of meals with my daughters. Plus, you can see Monty from my book, Can I Tell You a Secret?, in the picture frame on the wall.
Which characters from your books would you like to spend time with?
I’d like to spend time with my two buddies from the You Are (Not) Small series. They both have very strong opinions (which I like) and very different perspectives (which I also like). They’re also very furry, which I think would be ideal for sitting on a couch reading together on a cold winter’s day.
Can you draw us a self-portrait?
What illustrated book have you read recently and been wowed by?
There have been many good books that have come out recently but I thought Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell was stunning. I loved it.
Why do you think art is important for kids? What can grown-ups do to encourage kids to engage with art?
I think there’s nothing more natural for humans than to create art. We did it in caves long before we had a spoken or written language. I think kids need to create art as an important part of becoming a fully functioning human. Art will help kids express themselves; it will expand their imaginations and help them find their voice. Creating art allows them to relax in a low-tech way and while also encouraging empathy.
Grown-ups need to make art, too, and should do it with their kids whenever they can. Doodling with crayons together is a fun and bonding activity to do with a child — even if it’s just for a few minutes. Taking kids to museums also will help kids engage in art. You don’t have to be an expert — just talk about what you see that you like!
What’s the best name for a color that you’ve ever heard?
Cosmetic Peach. I don’t even know where to begin with this one.
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