“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.” – Dr. Seuss
Today is the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. Part of me is sad that we have to dedicate a special day of the year to motivate our kids to read. But today is also Dr. Seuss’s birthday, so the other part of me encourages this celebration.
Dr. Seuss’s books have been an accessible entrée to reading for millions of children across multiple generations. I still remember my Dad teaching me to read Green Eggs & Ham. So if we have to choose a day to encourage our children to read, then we could not have picked a better one.
But why does Dr. Seuss continue to entertain us? It’s because he blended unique illustrations with wonderful stories, while using simple, yet poetic language. One could argue that the moral messages Dr. Seuss weaves into his stories resonate with us, particularly with children. But I wasn’t surprised that the unnamed character eventually tried green eggs and ham and liked them, or that the Grinch finally realized the Christmas spirit does not come from a store. The ends of those stories warmed my heart, but what I really wanted was a fox in a box, or one ride down Mount Crumpit. And how cool would it be to run your own circus? Through his unique art and captivating stories, Dr. Seuss ignites imaginations, and that’s why we love him.
Most parents will have read to their children before today, and will continue to do so afterwards. But while it’s Read Across America Day, let’s read to our kids, and let’s celebrate a brilliant artist who may just inspire the one who you are reading to.
P.S. Speaking of inspiration, Jason Seiler inspired my portrait of Dr. Seuss. Seiler, an artist who my friend at Adobe suggested I would like, is one of the most talented illustrators out there, and I encourage you to check out his website at www.jasonseiler.com. His work has been featured in Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Der Spiegel, Business Week, and many more titles. What I found unique about Jason is that he often paints using digital technology (using a Wacom Cintiq tablet and Photoshop). He uses traditional methods (i.e. lights over darks with an emphasis on values), but the technology allows him to speed up his process and easily make refinements to his work. I used Brushes Redux, an iPad app, to create this portrait of Dr. Seuss. Brushes Redux is not as powerful as Photoshop, but I enjoy painting digitally, and I’m going to continue to experiment with it.
In 2013, Jason created the cover art of Pope Francis for TIME’s Person of the Year issue. That’s a long way from drawing caricatures of his high school teachers. Congratulations on your success, Jason, and thanks for sharing your work with us.