March 9th, 2015

An Interview with Illustrator and Writer, Colleen Rowan Kosinski

Today I am talking about art and books to one of CA’s enormously talented illustrators and writers, Colleen Rowan Kosinski.

IA: Colleen, welcome to the new look Creative Authors website. We hope you’re pleased with how your page looks and here’s to it filling up with lots of book deals in the future! Colleen you received your B.A. from Rutgers University, The State College of N.J in visual art, and you’re an alumna of Philadelphia’s Moore College of Art. Can you tell us what inspired you to study art and become an artist? I went to Goldsmiths College in London (to study English Lit), which is famous for artists such as Damian Hurst, Sarah Lucas, Lucian Freud and Sam Taylor-Wood (currently in the news for directing ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’), and always loved watching my art friends work in their studios.

CRK: The website looks terrific! From the age of five I knew I wanted to be a professional artist. Over the years I took private art lessons and then during middle school and high school started taking classes at the Philadelphia College of Art on Saturdays. It was on a whim after one of my Saturday classes that I attended a Portfolio Day College Fair being held at PCA. I was offered a full scholarship to Moore on the spot. I later joined my soon-to-be husband and transferred to Rutgers University to earn my degree.

IA: You write and illustrate too, which is hugely impressive. We’re currently working on a picture book together and a novel – can you tell readers how you balance your time between both? That is a lot of creative juggling!

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CRK: I’d always loved creative writing but didn’t take my writing seriously until about ten years ago. I enjoy what I do, so the hardest part is getting all my ideas down on paper. I’m pretty disciplined and work methodically on each project according to priority. I also need to make time for my family-although they are very supportive. I’m an expert juggler.

IA: I’m getting very excited about the Whitney opening in my neighbourhood and can’t wait to explore it. I’m also a fan of Dia: Beacon for its wonderful modern sculptures. I’ll always have a soft spot for the Tate Britain too. Apparently, one of my ancestors has their art stored in the vaults there. I was also blown away by The Art Institute of Chicago. I never thought I’d get the opportunity to see ‘Nighthawks’ and ‘American Gothic’ – two paintings I wrote college papers on. Can you recommend your favourite art galleries to us? What has been one of your favourite exhibitions? Magritte in Chicago, for me, was amazing.

CRK: Growing up on the outskirts of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Art Museum is like a second home. One of the paintings I was always drawn to in their collection is Prometheus Bound, a little dark, I know. I also enjoy the Brandywine River Museum, which features the work of the Wyeth artists. I saw a show last summer that was quite inspiring at the New York Public Library called ‘The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter’. It featured original artwork and texts by many beloved children’s book creators. In a few weeks I’m taking a trip to Italy and I’m super excited about all the art I’ll encounter. My sketchbook will be a constant companion.

IA: Can you tell us what really gets you inspired? And do you have any tips for budding young writers and artists?

CRK: I find inspiration all around me. I love nature and animals, so I draw a lot of inspiration from those elements. Interesting news articles, photographs, or even people watching can spark a story. Being any type of professional in the arts is hard. The competition is tough. You must be open to criticism, and use it to learn and improve. You must be your own advocate and learn to network and promote. And, of course, practice your craft diligently.

IA: I’ve just finished a memoir which was recommended to me by a publisher called ‘Clothes, Music, Boys’ by Viv Albertine, who was in the feminist punk band ‘The Slits’ in the 1970s. I also just read a sweet children’s book called ‘Jenny and the Cat Club’ by Esther Averill. Can you tell us what you’re reading at present? And can you recommend an all-time favourite book for us to read?

CRK: I just finished an ARC of one of my favourite author’s new books, ‘Nightbird’ by Alice Hoffman. I love lyrical, magical writing. Another book that is one of my favorites is ‘The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender’ by Leslye Walton. The writing is gorgeous. I think one of the most influential stories I’ve ever read was ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach. I read it when I was 9 years old and feel it helped shape many of my beliefs about life.

IA: Thanks for taking the time to chat to us, Colleen!

CRK: You’re welcome and I look forward to creating many beautiful books with you, Isabel.

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by Isabel Atherton

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