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Behind the Scenes of an Author-Illustrator

What it's really like to create art for a living

Award winning author and illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky takes you on a guided tour of his creative and critical process, analyzing and spelling out the many considerations that need to be met in a successful picture book, and how he tries to meet them.

In this 45-minute keynote presentation from Picture Book Summit 2016, Paul shares his history in picture books and delves into the nitty gritty of putting words into pictures through different styles and mediums. This video includes a live demonstration of Paul illustrating Toys Meet Snow.


Your Instructor


Paul O. Zelinsky
Paul O. Zelinsky

Paul O. Zelinsky grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, the son of a mathematics professor father and a medical illustrator mother. He drew compulsively from an early age, but did not know until college that this would be his career.

As a sophomore in Yale College, he enrolled in a course on the history and practice of the picture book, co-taught by an English professor and Maurice Sendak. This experience inspired Paul to point himself in the direction of children's books. His first book appeared in 1978, since which time he has become recognized as one of the most inventive and critically successful artists in the field.

He now lives with his wife in Brooklyn, New York. They have two grown daughters.

Among many other awards and prizes, he received the Caldecott Medal for his illustrated retelling of Rapunzel, as well as Caldecott Honors for three of his books: Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Swamp Angel.


Class Curriculum


  Inside the Mind of an Author-Ilustrator Video
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