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David Diaz's artwork
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Born in New York and raised in Florida, Caldecott Medallist and Pura Belpré Honoree David Diaz has illustrated numerous books for children, including César: Si, se puede!, The Pot that Juan Built, Smoky Night and Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman.

In addition to his children’s book work, which ranges from folktales to non-fiction, his work can be seen in national publications such as The Atlantic Monthly and The Washington Post, and his list of corporate clients is long and impressive. His versatility is also a trademark of his personal work as a painter and a ceramic artist.

David Diaz has never tired of drawing the faces he first explored as a six-year-old (when he decided he would be a "drawer" when he grew up), but his interests have grown to encompass reading for pleasure and studying history and science. He enjoys collecting furniture and accessories from the American Arts and Crafts movement and glassware from the 1960s. He lives outside San Diego, where he finds his greatest joy in his children.  



When did you realize you wanted to become an illustrator?

I recall the exact moment: one day in first grade, when I completed a vowel worksheet that was filled with pictures of objects with incomplete words written below. A line drawing of a nose was accompanied by "n_se," so I added the "o" to the word. After that, I was inspired to use my thick red pencil to complete the picture of the face--and I have been drawing faces ever since.

Do you have a favorite technique when illustrating children's books?

As an artist, the challenge for me is to retain the spontaneity of an initial sketch or thumbnail drawing through to the creation of the final image. To try to accomplish that, I use a variety of mediums, including computer art.

New ideas and techniques often emerge in my ceramics and fine art work, and I sometimes incorporate them into my illustrations.

What is your main goal, as an illustrator?

My work is sometimes compared to that of other artists such as George Roualt or Marc Chagall, but whereas some of these great names inspire me, I do not seek to emulate them. I aim to break away from any constrictions and develop my own way of telling stories through illustrations. 




Posted September 2008

David Diaz
David Diaz's photo

Illustrated by David Diaz:

written by Sarah Weeks,
Counting Ovejas
(Atheneum, 2006)

written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand,
César: Si, se puede! / Yes We Can!
(Marshall Cavendish, 2006)

written by Sharon Creech,
Who's That Baby? New-Baby Songs (Joana Cotler Books, 2005)

written by José Feliciano,
Feliz Navidad! Two Stories
Celebrating Christmas
(Scholastic, 2003)

written by Nancy Andrews-Goebel,
The Pot That Juan Built
(Lee & Low Books, 2002)

written by Sharon Creech,
The Wanderer
(HarperCollins, 2000)

written by Eve Bunting,
Going Home
(HarperCollins, 1996)

written by Kathleen Krull,
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman
(Harcourt Brace, 1996)

written by Eve Bunting,
Smoky Night
(Harcourt Brace, 1994)

written by Gary Soto,
Neighborhood Odes
(Harcourt Brace, 1992)


Read more about David Diaz's work here.
Organized by the NCCIL (the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature), "The Many Faces of David Diaz" is a traveling exhibit of 54 original artworks from 15 children's and young adult books, including Smoky Night, Going Home and December. Since 2007, the exhibit has traveled to many prestigious museums and galleries, and from Oct 4-Dec 28 2008 it can be seen at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska.





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