Here in Minneapolis, we have the Kerlan Collection, part of the Children’s Literature Research Collections (CLRC) at the University of Minnesota. Scholars come from all over the country–and world–to study its amazing resources. Recently, Curator Lisa Von Drasek hosted an event featuring retired Green Willow Art Director Ava Weiss, award-winning illustrator Paul Zelinsky, and noted illustrator Ariane Dewey. The topic? The making and printing of children’s books before the age of digitization demonstrated using materials from the Kerlan Collection.
I used to work at magazines and have been present at press runs, done color checks, bluelines, etc. The topic didn’t sound ALL that fascinating, but I like to support the Kerlan programs, and I always see wonderful writer and teacher friends there. AND I heard Paul Zelinsky speak there a year or two ago, and he was fantastic. So, off I went, missing a turn on the way, finally finding my parking spot and hoofing across the U of M campus just in time to make the presentation.
And it WAS fascinating. I won’t try to summarize it here. But Ava Weiss is a complete hoot, and all three presenters shared facts and anecdotes in a way that made me appreciate old-school picture books more than I ever have. Being a children’s picture book illustrator and having to do pre-separation for the color artwork would be like me, as a the author, having to compose my text writing in cursive with a pen held between my toes. Holy garters.
On top of the cool info, we got to see original artwork from Goodnight, Moon and other books, plus a lithography stone, acetate color-separation sheets–hand-painted, and more.
They filmed the presentation, and once it’s edited and available (I hope it will be available online, but I actually have no idea!), I’ll share information here.
I guess my advice boils down to two things:
- If you have a great children’s literature resource in your own community, support it.
- Don’t miss the chance to hear Paul Zelinsky, Ava Weiss, or Ariane Dewey talk.