Illustrator Study: Eric Carle

Eric Carle is an acclaimed creator of innovatively illustrated picture books for very young children. His best-known work, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, has been translated into more than 30 languages and sold over eighteen million copies. Since the Caterpillar was published in 1969, Carle has illustrated and wrote more than seventy books, many of which were best sellers.
Carle was born in Syracuse, New York, in 1929 and later moved to Germany with his parents where he was educated and eventually graduated from the prestigious art school, the Akademie der bildenden Kunste. However, he had a dream to always return to America, the land of his happiest childhood memories. In 1952 with a well-developed portfolio, he returned to New York. There he found a job as a graphic designer in the promotion department of The New York Times.
In the mid 1960's, Carle became the art director for an advertising agency. While there Bill Martin Jr. saw an ad of a red lobster that Carle had designed for an advertisement and was impressed enough to ask Carle to illustrate Martin's book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? . This experience brought back memories of large sheets of paper, colorful paints, and fat brushes from his earlier school years. He was opened to something special that would change his life. This was the beginning of Eric Carle's true career.

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Carle soon found that illustrating alone was not entirely satisfying and wanted to try writing as well. He began to make rough books of his ideas and stored them in a small cardboard box. When he illustrated an historical cookbook, the editor heard about his box of ideas and asked to see them. He submitted 1,2,3 to the Zoo. He then showed the editor a story about a worm that ate holes through the pages. This was how The Very Hungry Caterpillar was born. Almost without trying, Carle had become an author and illustrator of books for children….


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