Husband and wife illustrators, both Caldecott Honor winners, Ted and Betsy Lewin wrote Gorilla Walk, their first co-authored book, in 1999 following a trip to see mountain gorillas in Uganda. Since then, their adventurous travels around the world have been inspiration for further collaboration. Their individual artistic styles compliment each other perfectly in presenting both luminous panoramas and insighful, often amusing vignettes of the scenes and situations they encounter.
Ted and Betsy live in Brooklyn, New York, USA.
As artists, what did you enjoy most about your trip to Mongolia?
Meeting the welcoming nomadic people, sharing arig with them and seeing how they live, and being around their amazing horses.
Which book has been your favorite collaboration so far?
Gorilla Walk, for two reasons. It was the fulfillment of a childhood dream that we both had, and because for years we had searched for a way to do a book together combining our different artistic styles. This was the perfect opportunity because the trek was so arduous, and the shared experience so intense that we had to tell the story together.
How do you go about creating a book together?
We both keep journals, take thousands of photos for reference, and on the long plane trips home we organize our journals into a rough manuscript while things are still fresh in our minds. At home Ted reads the rough draft and Betsy types it into the computer, editing and refining all the while. Then we decide what each of us will illustrate, and we sort through all the photos to find the images that will best tell the story. The whole process of making the book, from rough draft to finished art takes about four months.
Can you describe your studios to us?
Ted's studio is on the top floor of our Brooklyn brownstone house. It's one big open space housing his work space, filing cabinets full of picture reference, flat files full of both their art, and an area used as a photo studio where he photographs models for some of his books. The walls are hung with his paintings, and book awards.
Betsy's is on the floor below. Besides her work space, there are two walls of bookcases full of their books. On top of the cases are props they use in their photography and a collection of Betsy's stuffed animals. She also displays her awards, and both her and Ted's art on her walls.
Both studios are brimming with memorabilia from our trips.
What are you working on at the moment and do you have plans for another collaboration from an adventurous journey?
We've just completed our 6th collaboration, Puffling Patrol, about the rescue of puffin chics by the children of Heimaey Island off the coast of Iceland. Next up, we've signed to do a book called Adventures With Ted and Betsy, about our 40 years of world travel.
Posted March 2011
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