There is a whole world out there for an aspiring illustrator to learn from. But one of the best ways for a novice to hone his talent is by taking inspiration from the classics in children’s literature. When it comes to children’s books, the illustrators often get the short shrift and readers usually never remember the name of the illustrator, even if they have read the book a hundred times and have each picture etched into their memory. So here are 10 illustrators famous for their groundbreaking artwork; names that deserve to be known by every illustrator in the business.
Eric Carle is best known for the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar (1969), a charming story of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. The book became wildly popular around the world and has been translated into over 50 languages. The unique illustrations in the book were a result of collaged hand-painted papers used to create his distinct artwork.
Philip Dey Eastman, better known as P.D. Eastman, wrote and illustrated several children’s classics such as Go, Dog. Go! and Big Dog, Little Dog. His best work is probably, Are You, My Mother? a humorous tale of a little bird wandering in search of his mother. P.D. James also worked as an animator at Walt Disney Studios and collaborated with Dr. Seuss to write the beginner reader series for children.
McCloskey’s Caldecott His award-winning book Make Way for Ducklings, which is set in the city of Boston, chronicles the adventures of a family of mallards who attempt to make a home for themselves in the city. The book so charmed the Bostonians that the Public Garden in Boston has a monument in the form of 8 bronze duckling statues and a mother mallard statue.
Ezra Jack Keats He won the Caldecott Medal for The Snowy Day, a book that he authored and illustrated for the littlest readers. A lifelong artist, Keats was also a hugely successful commercial artist, with extensive training in fine arts
Clement Hurd The famed illustrator of Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny, Clement Hurd, illustrated these books for newborns with simple but stunning artwork that has riveted children across generations. He was an accomplished painter who illustrated over 100 books in his long career
Maurice Sendak Although Sendak’s work often drew controversy, he was hugely successful and influential to generations of artists and writers. His best-known books are Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen. In his long illustrious career of 60 years, he illustrated more than 60 books.
Quentin Blake He is England’s first Children’s Laureate, famous for his unique brand of artwork that consists of cartoonish characters with exaggerated features. Although he has illustrated over 250 books in his career, his most productive phase as an illustrator was when he collaborated with the writer, Roald Dahl on a series of books that comprise Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Twits and James and the Giant Peach.
Barbara Cooney In a career spanning 60 years, Cooney provided the artwork for over 100 books and won two Caldecott Medals for her creations. Her work can be seen in books such as Ox-cart Man, Chanticleer and the fox, The Little Fir Tree, Where Have You Been? Miss Rumphius, Island Boy and Hattie and The Wild Waves.
Ludwig Bemelman Bemelman published several children’s books and created the well-loved character of Madeline. His original Madeline series had six titles, one of which, Madeline’s Rescue, won him the Caldecott Medal.
Virginia Lee Burton, he won the Caldecott Medal for The Little House and was also the writer and illustrator of popular books like Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel , Katy and the Big Snow, and Maybelle the Cable Car.