Category Close-Ups

About Our Cover Artist
Diane Roback -- 2/12/01
It's been almost 10 years since PW spoke with Kevin Hawkes--for a Flying Starts feature in July 1991, on the occasion of his debut picture book. Fast forward to 2001: the Maine-based artist now has 19 books to his credit. If he got off to a flying start, clearly he has not landed yet.
Hawkes, who gave up editorial illustration to concentrate on books, says he enjoys the creative freedom that book illustration affords. He made a conscious decision early on to publish with more than one house. "Financially it was a good move," he says. "And by and large, I have had really good experiences with the editors I've worked with. I enjoy
From His Royal
getting different viewpoints."
Speaking of variety, Hawkes hasn't limited himself just to the picture book genre. He also d s book jackets, as well as illustrations for novels. "I love doing those," he says. "I'm just like a kid with those." For Knopf this fall he has illustrated A Necklace of Raindrops, a reissued collection of Joan Aiken stories. "We thought there would be 20 to
From Then the Troll
Heard the Squeak
24 interior illustrations," he says, "but I ended up doing about 60. I really got carried away, and had so much fun."
Other current projects include Timothy Tunny Swallowed a Bunny by Bill Grossman (HarperCollins/Geringer, Mar.); Dial a Ghost by Eva Ibbotson (Dutton, Aug.); Handel, Who Knew What He Liked, a picture book about the composer by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick, Oct.); and A Very Merry Christmas Collection (HarperCollins, Oct.). And that's just for 2001.

Lately, Hawkes says, he spends roughly 90% of his working days on children's books, and 10% doing his own painting, in a style he describes as "a cross between Caravaggio and Winslow Homer." He hopes to be able to do more of that, but he's leading a fairly busy life these days; he and his wife have four children, ranging in age from 13 years to nine months. "I have a studio in the house, and it's always pretty chaotic. Kids
are coming through to get things, the phone is ringing, the dog is barking. I can tune out everything short of a nuclear explosion."
Chaotic, yes. But also productive. "It takes me about six months to do a book," he says, "and I have several under contract, through the next few years. Right now, I'm booked up and happy."

Undoubtedly, so are Hawkes's legion of fans.