Image courtesy Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Jarrett J. Krosoczka is the author and illustrator of a number of picture books and graphic novels. He is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and was an instructor at Montserrat College of Art for four years. In 2003, Krosoczka was chosen by “Print” as one of their 20 Top New Visual Artists Under 30. A Universal Studios movie based on Krosoczka’s “Lunch Lady” series will feature Amy Poehler in the lead role.
Living Through Imagination
You had a tough home life as a young boy. Did drawing pictures and writing stories help you overcome your challenges?
Absolutely! Regardless of whether or not a kid takes their art to the professional level or not, creativity helps children process the world around them.
You have said that your best friends growing up were cartoon and comic characters like Snoopy and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If you were a boy today, what modern characters would be your friends?
I would imagine they would be the same. Those characters that I loved as a kid have all made a comeback! Of course, they’ve come back because we’re all parents now, so the networks are pulling on that nostalgia heart string. I would probably have to add so many of the great new graphic novels for kids that are being published today, like the ‘Babymouse” series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, “Sidekicks” by Dan Santat, and anything by Dav Pilkey.
You have worked with charitable organizations, done countless school visits and established a scholarship at Worcester Art Museum for children who cannot afford to take classes. Why do you feel it is important to give back to the community?
As an artist, I am looking at the big picture – not just what I put down on paper, but what I bring into the world. Someday, I will be gone but there will be books on shelves with my name on the spines. I also hope to leave behind a sense of myself. My grandfather always lived by example and I truly pattern my life on him. He was a hard worker and a very charitable man. It’s important to foster community. It just leads to a much happier life.
How can people work towards using their imaginations to make a living?
I would say work tirelessly and be prepared to face countless rejections. If you work on your craft and continue to submit your work, it won’t be a question of “if” but a question of “when.”
Two of your publications are being turned into feature films, “Punk Farm” and the “Lunch Lady” series. When can we expect to see them?
They are both in development and that is about all that I know. There are no release dates for either. “Punk Farm” has been in development since 2006, the “Lunch Lady” series since 2009. Hollywood is a slow, slow business.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on new picture books, like 2015’s “It’s Tough to Lose Your Balloon,” and the third installment of the “Platypus Police Squad” middle-grade novel series.
You were not accepted to the Rhode Island School of Design when you first applied and, early in your career, you sent out countless artistic postcards that went unanswered. How did you deal with the setbacks?
I never really viewed them as setbacks. It’s part of the process. Getting rejected from RISD was a big blow, in part because I was an emotional seventeen-year-old, but the rejections from publishers is just a part of the path to publication. I really don’t know anybody who avoided those rejections.
One of your high school teachers told you to ignore books that told you how to draw and celebrate your own style. How has this advice impacted your work?
This is the best piece of advice I have ever been given. Hands down! It taught me that my vision had value and I didn’t need to draw Spider-Man just as he appeared in the comic books. Also, I didn’t need to draw Spider-Man. I could create my own characters!
Of the 20+ books you have created, which is your favorite?
That’s sort of asking a parent who their favorite child is. Like a good parent, I love all of my kids the same. Some have succeeded more than others, some have problems, but I love them all!
What changes are happening to your weekly radio show?
“The Book Report with JJK” airs within “The Absolutely Mindy Show,” so when she moved to mornings, my show changed along with her new format. I now call in live every Tuesday morning to give book recommendations and report on what’s going on in the world of books. My interviews with other authors now air in small segments across all programing, at all hours of the day.
Your grandparents were supportive of your artwork and you are in turn supportive of your children’s artwork. What benefits come from supporting a child’s creativity?
I love the unknown. I love to think that some kid I meet at a school visit will go on to pursue their dreams. And if those dreams are in publishing, I hope to get a hold of that book someday!
For more information about Jarrett J. Krosoczka, please visit his website.
Click on the images below to see more of Krosoczka’s work.
All images © 2014 Jarrett J. Krosoczka.