Acclaimed children’s author Anthony Browne once commented on the fact that as adults, we tend to flip through the pages of a picture book quickly, while children will pause to “look more carefully” over every detail. A child’s ability to pour over an illustration with an eye for these details makes the job of the artist for a children’s book all the harder. Each image must engage the young mind with just the right mix of realism and fantasy all while perfectly placing extra elements to entertain even the most careful reader. Never fear, Bryson’s Books artist Cleoward Sy is more than up for the challenge.
Growing up, Cleoward was always fascinated by art. His passion began the same as most children, in his youngest days watching his favorite cartoons. Cleoward’s first artistic endeavors began with learning to draw these characters on his own, using a child’s imagination to create his own expressions and stories. During these early years, drawing was only a hobby, but that would soon change.
In college, Cleoward focused on a more traditional career path. At his parents’ encouragement, Cleoward pursued accounting and eventually completed his degree. While this was a valuable life experience, the career wasn’t a passion and definitely not an area the budding artist could make himself enjoy. After finishing school, Cleoward put together the courage to tell his parents that he wanted to pursue his passion for art, quickly landing his first position with a publishing company. There, Cleoward discovered art was indeed hard work and quickly had to learn the fine points of his craft. Cleoward hasn’t looked back and has since honed his skills as a children’s book illustrator, bringing his passion for drawing to young minds around the world.
When Cleoward isn’t bringing stories to life with intricate illustrations, he has a variety of other interests to keep him busy. Some of the artists favorite book’s include the Harry Potter series, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi and A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Each of these stories speaks to Cleoward’s love of fantasy and the fantastical. Magical creatures, sorcery and impossible tales all grab hold of the imagination and transport readers young and old to entirely new worlds in the unique way that only good books can.
For these very same reasons, Cleoward’s artistic inspiration is actually Tony DiTerlizzi himself. The fantasy artist captures the imagination with his detailed drawings that are lifelike and unrealistic, all at once. The traditional style of DiTerlizzi’s artwork also has a good deal of appeal for Cleoward who prefers classic watercolor as his favorite medium.
Outside of art and books, the artists spends his time much like the non-artists among us; enjoying pizza and Italian food, cooking and binge-watching his favorite cartoon shows and movies. For anyone looking to follow his path towards making a career out of art, Cleoward advises to “keep practicing and do what you love to do.” This seems like wise advice from someone who has managed to make a career out of their passion by following their calling to art and illustration.
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