Saturday, July 9, 2011


I think most artists like to listen to things while they are working. Making art usually involves long stretches of time when your hands are busy but large parts of your brain aren't occupied. So your thoughts roam around or in my case, I sometimes get sleepy. So my favorite way to keep my brain occupied is listen to recorded books or podcasts. I listen to music a lot too, but it isn't as engaging as listening to a story.

My favorite podcasts are interviews with other artists. I love learning about their lives and how their artwork evolved. The interviews are often inspiring and sometimes trigger ideas for new things I want to try. So I thought I'd share some of my favorite podcasts. If there are some you love please share them with me!

Reading Rockets has a wonderful list of video interviews with children's illustrators and authors. They are all worth listening to but my favorite is at the very bottom. Audrey Geisel talks about her husband Dr. Seuss aka Theodore Geisel. Dr. Seuss is such a legend, it's great to listen to his wife describe him as a real person who worked very hard at his craft. You can click on any of the images- they link to the artist's websites.

Just One More Book was a long running blog that isn't active any more but the old posts are still there. If you scroll down on the right side you can see the list of podcast interviews. These are all children's authors and illustrators. Mo Willems' interview is great! His answer to, "How do you get started?" begins, "I look at my mortgage, and, um, that inspires me."

I recently found these podcasts from the National Gallery of Art. I listened to most of this long presentation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. They are such a comedy team! I got to hear them speak when I lived in Salida, Colorado. They gave a presentation in the smallish Senior Center of this very small town. They were letting the community  know about their plans to drape the Arkansas River canyon with silver fabric for 42 miles starting in Salida. The crowd was skeptical to begin with but Jeanne-Claude and Christo won everyone over with their charm, humor, and practicality. I'm a big fan now and I look forward to seeing their Over the River project in the next few years.

One of my favorite interviews is with book artist and author Audrey Niffenegger. I knew her name because her novel, The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my favorite books. But I didn't realize that she is also a book artist making hand made books. This talk with Audrey came from Steve Miller's list of interviews with book artists, printmakers and poets that you can find here.

Escape from Illustration Island is the place to go for interviews with illustrators working in lots of different areas. I really enjoyed this one with Dave McKean. What an incredibly creative and interesting guy!

I just had a friend mention Daniel Pinkwater's podcasts on NPR. I didn't realize he was doing children's book reviews. He is the author and illustrator of one of my favorite books from childhood, The Big Orange Splot. You'll get a kick out of this review of Calef Brown's book Flamingos on the Roof. Daniel and Scott Simon take turns reading lots of the funny poems.

Another thing I do occasionally is just search for names of illustrators on YouTube. Here is a video of Marla Frazee talking about picture books and specifically All the World written by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla. This is a beautiful book illustrated by one of my most favorite artists.

Tell me about some of your favorite podcasts and I'll listen to them!


  1. What an interesting theme for a post. It's fascinating to have a glimpse into the soundscape an artist creates in! I need silence when I'm writing but while I'm sewing I listen to Pema Chodron and Alain de Botton. I also love finding interviews with comedians in which they're being serious - people like Dawn French, Russell Brand, Joanna Lumley. Its so interesting hearing other sides of their personalities coming through.

    You've given me lots to look up here but I'm specially interested in the Audrey Geisel interview. Off to find it now in fact...

  2. I'll check out some of your comedians, Anna! I hope you liked Audrey's interview. :)