Don Kilby - Author/Illustrator
For over 23 years, Don Kilby has been making his living as a commercial artist. In reality, his artistic training had begun even before entering kindergarten. All through his school years, Don never stopped drawing. He was often chastised for drawing at school; not in art class but in history, math, science and all his other non-art classes.
In spite of this lifelong commitment to creating art, Don first chose a more practical career path after high school as a Construction Engineer. Once completing these studies, however, a chance meeting with an old school mate convinced him to return to school for three more years and study Illustration at Sheridan College.
Specializing in technical illustration, Don held a number of jobs as a staff artist before striking out on his own as a free lance illustrator. The normal struggles to establish himself in the market ensued, but an opportunity to illustrate a picture book written by William Bell proved to be a golden opportunity. After The Golden Disk was published, other publishers took notice and soon Don was more than busy producing artwork for new picture books. The challenge of creating captivating artwork to engage the reader as well as help tell the story has never grown old for Don. He approaches every new book project with the determination to make it his best effort ever.
When Kids Can Press decided to develop a new series about mighty machines, Don enlisted all his technical illustration know-how and the Wheels at Work books were conceived. After studying these machines in great detail, Don decided he wanted to get closer still and has since worked at a number of jobs driving some of the very machines he wrote about and illustrated!
Surrounded by forests and fields, with two rivers running through it, many historical buildings and charm to spare, Don's home and studio in Eden Mills is an ideal place to be creative. Many other artists agree, and Eden Mills is also the home of a long-running writer's festival, as well as currently attempting to become the first carbon neutral village in North America.
Where do you live now?
Just outside Elora, Ontario. In a 152-year-old stone home.
When did you start drawing?
Too early to remember, exactly.
How did you get involved with children's books?
Partially by accident. I was halfway through a meeting with a publisher, author and a whole bunch of other people when I realized they wanted me to illustrate a WHOLE book!
What is the thing you like the most about creating kids' books?
Telling a story with images and making them as creative and well-executed as possible.
What is your favorite book?
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien, or The Wreck of the Zephyr, by Chris Van Allsburg.
Do you have any pets?
My dog Kookoosh, cats Setanta and Zosia.
What are your hobbies?
My favorite hobbies are mountain biking, volleyball and walking my dog.
What is your favorite food?
What was your training or schooling?
Sheridan College, illustration program.
Do you have any tips for young creators?
The usual: draw a ton and look closely at what other artists are doing.
What is your favorite movie?
I just watched it: A Christmas Carol, the 1953 black-and-white version.
Where do you work?
I have a room attached to the house that is almost as old as the house itself; it offers me a spectacular view at almost any time of day.
How do you research or create your illustrations?
Scouring through my own books and also the computer and definitely at libraries.
Where do you get your ideas?
That's a hard question to answer exactly ... often something catches my eye --- it could be almost anything, really --- and shows up in some future work.
What materials do you use to create your illustrations?
I have really been expanding lately. I've been experimenting with pastels, watercolors and pencil crayons, and hope to try real paint sometime soon.
What's your greatest childhood memory?
Again, a little unclear, but maybe getting my first bike --- it was a beaut!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
A lumberjack in the mountains of British Columbia.
What is the weirdest or most interesting job you've ever had?
Working away during the wee hours of the morning, deep in the stomach of Stelco
Do you have any special secrets or insights about one of your books or characters?
In a painting for my next book, I have included a drawing of my first picture book.