Celebrate the eight nights of Chanukah with the Shammash Bug, the Dizzy Dreidel Bug, and many others. Bugs fans of all ages will get in the spirit and join in the fun with this new holiday pop-up!
About the Author
David A. Carter is a master paper engineer and creator of the Bugs series, which has sold more than 6 million copies. Also the author and illustrator of the critically acclaimed Color series, featuring One Red Dot, Blue 2, 600 Black Spots, Yellow Square, and White Noise, he lives in Auburn, California, with his wife and two daughters.
An Exclusive Interview with David A. Carter
Barnes & Noble.com: How (and why) did you get started in the art of paper-engineering and pop-up book making?
David A. Carter: I studied illustration at Utah State University, then moved to Los Angeles. It was 1980, and even though I had a full-time job as a graphic designer, I was still a successful starving artist. I answered an ad in the L.A. Times for a freelance production artist, which turned out to be for Wally Hunt's Intervisual Communications. Jim Diaz was the creative director who hired me. One of the first jobs that I worked on was a paste-up of Jan Pienkowski's Robot. Jan's art was like nothing I had seen, and I remember thinking that if this was the kind of art that this company was using, then this was the place for me. I continued to work at Intervisual for the next seven years, where I learned the art of paper engineering and pop-up book making.
B&N.com: Did you always want to be a children's book illustrator?
DAC: I have always been an artist, and in college I did consider children's illustration, but it wasn't until I saw Jan's work that I decided to focus on children's pop-up book illustration.
B&N.com: Can you name a few of your favorite children's books (by other authors/illustrators)?
DAC: There are so many -- in fact I'm one of those nutty collectors. Here are a few of my favorites: Jan Pienkowski's Dinner Time and Robot; anything by Patricia Polacco, Barbara Cooney, Kveta Pacovska, and William Joyce; Goodnight Moon; and from my childhood: Green Eggs and Ham, If I Ran the Zoo, The Biggest Bear, Ferdinand the Bull, and that Golden Book with the real Band-Aid in it.
B&N.com: Does the success of your Bugs series surprise you?
DAC: I'm flabbergasted!
B&N.com: And what made you focus on bugs, initially?
DAC: I have been a bug lover all of my life. When I created the first bug book, I found that using the bugs allowed me the creative freedom I needed to mix the words, art, and pop-ups into the kind of book I wanted to make.
B&N.com: Do you ever tire of them?
DAC: I still love bugs as much as I ever have. After every bug book is finished, I wonder whether it will be the last, and then I usually work on another type of book. Out of the 59 titles that I have published, only 25 are bug books. When that book is finished I am ready to take on another bug title. As long as I have buggy ideas and there is a demand, I will be making bug books.
B&N.com: How do you come up with ideas for your books?
DAC: When I was in college, I filled sketch books with drawings; now I fill sketch books with drawings and ideas. The ideas that I jot down come from many places, such as my children, children that I visit in schools, and from books. I then study the ideas and combine the ones I like until I have something that I think will make an engaging book. Sometimes, ideas for books are suggested by the editors that I work with. I am currently working on at least ten ideas, one of which I have been working on since 1997.
B&N.com: How long does it take for you to create a book like Chanukah Bugs?
DAC: From the time that I first considered the idea, to delivery of final art was about six months.
B&N.com: What's the process like?
DAC: First comes the idea. Once I have the idea, I start cutting paper, writing the words, and drawing the illustrations. My creative process is filtered chaos: Paper is flying everywhere; sometimes I start with the words, sometimes the art, and sometimes the paper engineering. And when the paper settles, and I finally have combinations that I am happy with, I put it all together into a rough-cut dummy. During this rough-cut stage I often see things and have ideas for other books, and this is when I jot them down into my sketch book or save bits of paper engineering for the future. The rough-cut dummy is then sent to the editor as the proposed book. If the editor accepts the idea and agrees to publish the book, I start the final art. I use the rough-cut dummy as my guide to make the art. Sometimes I scan the drawings into my computer and create the art in drawing and painting software, and sometimes I use more traditional art styles such as cut-paper collage or watercolor. As I am doing the art, I am also refining the manuscript and the paper engineering. The book is then ready for the manufacturing process, where it will be printed, die-cut, and hand-assembled over a six-to-nine-month period. The book will appear on the bookshelves of the store almost one year after I deliver the art into the manufacturing process.
B&N.com: Was creating your first "Jewish" bug book more challenging than the others?
DAC: Chanukah Bugs was not more or less challenging than any other project. As with any other book, once I have the idea, my problem is to make and engaging book for children. My challenge as author, illustrator, and paper engineer is to solve that problem. The problem solving is one of the things I enjoy most about making books.
B&N.com: Did you have any help (since you're not Jewish yourself)?
DAC: Part of the creative process is the research that I do in the beginning of a project. For the research on Chanukah Bugs, I talked with friends who are Jewish and I talked with their rabbi. I also read books and visited web sites that had information on Jewish celebrations.
B&N.com: What's next for you and/or the Bugs series?
DAC: My head is full of ideas, and as long as children are interested in my books, I will be making them. I am currently working on Halloween Bugs, so I am reading some scary books and looking at spooky pictures. I hear some very strange noises coming from my studio at night.