John Spina, husband of author Janice Spina, is an unusual illustrator. First, it’s difficult to get him to talk. (Janice had to pull most of the answers out of him with pliers.) What’s most interesting is he is the only artist that I’m aware of who uses this particular medium for his illustrations. Read on to find out what that is.
What was it like working with Janice on Louie the Lazy Elephant? Had you two ever worked together before?
It was a pleasure, sheer utter pleasure! Ha ha! Generally we get along and bounce ideas off of one another. We did work together in the school system before we retired.
How old were you when you started drawing?
I started drawing in Preschool.
Who is your favorite artist? Why?
I like many of the grand masters of the renaissance, i.e., Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.They produced incredible quality in their work with realistic muscle tone, skin texture and set the bar very high for all other artists.
Who is your favorite children’s book illustrator?
Walt Disney & Co., he made cartoon characters come alive not only in books but on the big screen.
Are any of your children or grandchildren artists?
Yes, my youngest son is an exceptional artist and art school graduate. He teaches art in a middle school.
Who and/or what inspires your art?
My wife inspires me. The truth is we couldn’t afford an artist so I took a stab at illustrating her first book, Louey the Lazy Elephant and enjoyed doing it. We just published our second book now, Ricky the Rambunctious Raccoon.
What’s your favorite medium to work in?
I prefer to use crayons and markers for all of my illustrations. I sketch out the drawings in pencil first then color them in.
What do you think about illustrations in eBooks? Is it as good as the printed version? Why or why not?
Illustrations are not as good in eBooks as in print. They appear to lose texture and richness in color. There is nothing like the feel and texture of a printed medium.
Tell us 3 strange and wonderful things about you.
1. Janice made me do this since I am a very private person.
2. I like to keep my thoughts to myself on a public level.
3. I often see humor in the darkest of situations.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My mother repeatedly told me as a child that she didn’t care if I swept the streets I was going to college! Once I started school I couldn’t stop until I earned my doctorate.
Dr. John Spina is a retired former principal of a school system in Massachusetts. He has illustrated Louey the Lazy Elephant, Janice Spina’s first children’s book. John is currently working on illustrating more of Janice’s books.Their joint goal is to encourage children to read. John can be reached at email@example.com.