Interview: Dallas Clayton
Current Mood: thirsty
Current Song: Leverage score music by Joseph LoDuca
Dallas Clayton wrote his first book, entitled An Awesome Book, for his son. After being turned down by publishers, he put the book online for anyone to see - and the rest is history. Like the works of Peter H. Reynolds, Clayton's stories offer positive boosts for all ages. His artwork, prose, and poetry are filled with bright colors and a can-do spirit. And critters. Lots of neat critters and creations.
I discovered Dallas' work when someone posted a quote and a link on Twitter. Shortly thereafter, I found his website and blog, and as soon as I read/saw this, I printed it so I could show to others and so I could memorize it and use for a monologue at a future audition.
I recently had the chance to talk to Dallas, who is celebrating the release of his brand-new book, Make Magic! Do Good!, and we discussed his artwork, his stories, and his family.
How long was it between the first day you set pen to paper for An Awesome Book, and the first time you had a bound, printed, published copy in your hands?
It's hard to say at this point. I mean when you do that sort of thing there's all kinds of drafts and versions and pressings, it all kinda blends together but I'd say on average a book takes me about 30 minutes to write, 2 months to draw, and then with printing and drafts/shipping, add another month - so all total, 4 months I'd say is a fair number, but that could slide two months in either direction.
Which part of the book is your son's favorite?
It's changed over the years. He's 9 now, so An Awesome Book is just as much a part of his life as it is of mine. When he was very young he was very into the dancing wild animals, but there's also a few pages in there loosely based on inside jokes between he and I that I think he gets a kick out of.
You followed up An Awesome Book with An Awesome Book of Thanks - happy early Thanksgiving, by the way! - and An Awesome Book of Love. What's the most awesome part of being an artist?
Being able to share ideas with people you've never met in places you've never been and have what you do make their lives better.
Now you have Make Magic! Do Good!, your first collection of children's poetry. Which piece is your (current) favorite to read out loud?
I don't think I've read the whole book out loud yet. I just started getting test copies recently and haven't had a reading yet. I'm curious myself. I'll let you know!
I particularly like Wishers. Thank you for that piece. Do you remember how old you were when you first started sketching and drawing and scribbling stories and creatures?
Awesome Book was the first thing I really ever drew. I doodled a bit before that, and was into vandalism as a kid but I never really drew anything until a few years ago.
What artists (poets, writers, painters, musicians, anyone) have inspired you?
Anyone making anything that makes them happy even though there is no other real reason to be making it.
Amen to that! Are you writing and illustrating full-time now?
That's fantastic. My favorite piece of yours thus far is The Boy in the Belly of the Dragon. What inspired this piece?
Oh, I don't really know, I just wrote that one night for fun. I have so much writing at this point and the book industry is so slow that I just post stuff online pretty much every day because I like sharing. I'm sure it will end up in a book some day.
What mediums/media do you use to create your pieces?
Pens and paper and markers and paints and a computer.
When working with text, do you tend to write first, then draw something to match, or draw something which then inspires what you write beside it?
I write first, I'm way better at writing than I am at drawing. Plus writing is way quicker.
What do you say to readers who need that extra YOU CAN DO IT! oomph, that upward movement and motivation to follow their dreams?
I mean, why not? Jobs, bosses, numbers, failure, pressure, routine - those things are only real if you allow them to be real or if you want them to be real. We are on a rock floating through space right now! Go sit by the ocean for a bit and remember how big and how small things are.
Visit Dallas Clayton's official website.
Make sure to drop by Bildungsroman on Friday to read another poem written by Dallas Clayton. It has a kitten in it, people. You're going to want to check it out.