Jarrett J. Krosoczka used to be a goofy kid that liked to draw. Now, he is an award winning published author/illustrator with many books to his credit. Growing up in Worcester, MA Jarrett drew relentlessly and always had a cast of characters that he wrote stories for. In 9th grade, Jarrett won a contest with The Worcester Telegram & Gazette and for the first time – saw his work in print.
This sparked a fire within. He went on to graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design – after being initially rejected. It was in his senior year that he received his first illustration job for a national educational publisher. Then, six months after graduating RISD, Jarrett carried his portfolio into New York City and landed a contract for his first book. He immediately ran to a pay phone to share the good news with his grandparents. Good Night, Monkey Boy was published on June 12, 2001 and Jarrett has since been busy producing more books – including Baghead, Bubble Bath Pirates, Annie Was Warned, Max for President, Punk Farm, Giddy Up, Cowgirl and My Buddy, Slug. In 2003, Jarrett was chosen by Print as one of their 20 top new visual artists under 30. His work has also been short listed by Newsweek, USA Today, The Boston Globe and The New York Times, among others. Jarrett’s books Punk Farm and Lunch Lady are currently in development as feature films.
Jarrett you have accomplished so much in your career already, how amazing and inspiring! Since this blog is about offering inspiration to writers and artists, my first question for you is, do you have a favorite quote?
Aw, thank you! A camper at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, where I worked as a counselor for many summers, once said,
“I wish I was the way I am.”
We put that on the staff T-shirt that summer.
You have won many awards and recently, you were nominated for an Eisner award, congratulations! This is a HUGE accomplishment! Is there any advice or words of encouragement you’d like to offer others who are trying to follow in your footsteps?
The Eisner nomination took me completely by surprise! My best advice is to write about what interests you. One of the most influential professors that I had at RISD, Oren Sherman, always told us to avoid chasing trends. By the time we would ever create anything that would be ready to be put out into the world, the trend would be gone. He encouraged us to chase our own visions and by the nature of our success, we would set the trends.
All of your books are packed full of comedy and so are you! How do you keep your creative spark burning?
Thanks! My humor helped me get through childhood and make friends in high school. I keep my creative spark burning simply because it is what I love to do. Well, that and because it’s my job. Imagine if you walked into your dentist’s office and he said, “Eh. I’m really not in the mood to clean teeth today. I’ll be over here looking at Facebook . . .”
What did you want to be growing up? Now that you’re an author/illustrator did this come as a surprise?
I wanted to be what I am. I always told stories with words and pictures in some way. A friend of mine from college once told me that she would be more surprised if I didn’t end up being an author/illustrator of children’s books.
If you could be any super hero, who would it be?
I always admired Storm’s powers. I imagine she was the most popular X-Man around when they all went on vacation. Do you remember that TV Show from the 80’s, Out of this World, where the girl could put her fingers together and freeze time? I always wanted to be able to do that, too.
Has there ever been a teacher that had a big influence on you? If so, what did they do and how did they encourage you?
When I was in the 6th grade, the arts budgets for public schools in Worcester, MA were completely slashed. My grandfather, Joseph, sent me to classes at the Worcester Art Museum. I would take classes there through my senior year of high school, taking classes in drawing, cartooning, animation and illustration. Mark Lynch, who taught the comic book and animation classes, was horrified when I brought in a book that told you how to draw comics. He said, “Forget everything you’ve learned.” He told me that I already had a great style and that I should celebrate that and further explore my own “voice”. I can still see the expression on his face!
If you could pick one word to describe yourself, what would it be?
Thank you Jarrett for the awesome interview and for spreading your gift of laughter to many. You’re so encouraging and I am thrilled that I was so lucky to have interviewed you!