Copyright 2011 Kevin Luthardt


Some Q and A about Kevin:

Where did you grow up?
I spent my whole childhood in Schaumburg, IL; a northwest suburb of Chicago.

What was your family like growing up?
I thankfully grew up in a simple, fun household where I had the freedom to develop my creativity and imagination to my heart's content.  My mom is a nurse and lactation consultant, and my dad is a computer engineer.  They both encouraged and supported me in my artistic pursuits.  I have an older brother, Mike, and a younger sister, Wendy.  So, I was the typical odd middle child.

Did you have any pets?

We had a beagle dog named Chopper whom I remember mostly sleeping on the couch and barking at the mailman.  We had two cats named Buttermilk and Benny.  Buttermilk was a beautiful outdoor hunter cat.  Benny was a fat and lazy house cat.  We also had a duck named Peepsee, the inspiration for my book "Peep!".  I must note that Peepsee came before we had our two cats, which was a good thing.  Buttermilk would have certainly had Peepsee for lunch.

Did you want to be an artist as a child?
Yes!!!  I loved to draw from the moment I could pick up a pencil.  When I was a kid, I wanted to be a comic strip cartoonist like Charles Schulz (Peanuts) or Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes).  I even took cartooning classes on Saturdays.  Later, I was really interested in Disney and Warner Brothers Looney Toons animation styles.  I never really painted until I went to college, but I remember in high school going to an exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago of Geogia O'Keefe's work.  I vividly recall being fascinated as I studied her brush strokes up close.  I feel mighty blessed to be able to do what I have always loved doing as my job! 

What were your favorite books growing up?
My favorite book as a child was "Mouse Soup" by Arnold Lobel.  I loved how the mouse in the story cleverly used storytelling to outwit the weasel.  I also grew up on a healthy diet of Dr. Seuss books and comic strips like Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Bloom County, and The Far Side.  I remember reading every Encyclopedia Brown book I could find at the library.   I also recall loving the Beverly Cleary "Henry Huggins" series and Judy Blume books like "SuperFudge".  In high school, I was addicted to Agatha Christie mystery novels. 

What other interests did you have as a child?
I was a huge Star Wars fan (okay, I still am).  I also liked Super Heroes, Legos, Atari 2600 (if you don't know what an Atari 2600 is, ask your parents), breakdancing (yes, breakdancing!), eating cereal, playing soccer, and all sorts of other fun kid stuff.  As a kid, we were free to roam around the neighborhood until suppertime.  So, we'd use the whole block to play capture the flag and other games.  I have all boys now, so I am enjoying reliving my childhood interests with them.  I have an excuse now to build spaceships out of Legos!

What is your family like now?
I have a beautiful wife Alicia, a music teacher; and one, two, three, four boys: Avery 10, Elijah 8, Ezra 5, and Kai 2.   Yikes!  Our grocery bills are getting really expensive.

Do you have any pets now?
We just have two little aquatic frogs named Bob and Bob.

Did you go to college to become an author and illustrator?
Not exactly.  I did not know I was going to write and illustrate picture books while I was in college.  I went to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting.  In college, I got to explore and study all kinds of ways of making art:  pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, pastels, oil paint, acrylics, watercolors, lithography, etching, and more.  I have fond memories of painting in my studio space late into the night.  I began making whimsical, childlike, narrative paintings; which naturally led to making picture books after I graduated.  About a year after I graduated, I started pursuing publishers with my work. 

Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas for stories, paintings, murals, etc. come from just about anything and everything I might observe in a given day.  Personal experiences play a big role in generating ideas for stories and characters.  I try to visit libraries and bookstores frequently to be inspired by new books and illustrations.  Going to art galleries and museums inspires me too.  Sometimes I just get ideas by sitting down and sketching, letting my mind wander onto the paper.  As a Christian, I always seek to glorify God in my work.  Although I am not creating "Bible stories" per se, I strive to let the themes and spirit of my stories reflect my faith and values.

What are your hobbies and interests now?
I play guitar, listen to music, do crossword puzzles, read books, listen to books on tape, listen to old time radio shows, watch movies, and go to art galleries and museums.  One of my favorite things to do is just sit in a bookstore and check out all of the new picture books and art books.  I enjoy travelling when I get the chance.  I have been to Africa (Swaziland and South Africa) and India (New Delhi and Mumbai) on mission trips, and Italy (Florence, Rome, Padua, and Milan) on vacation. 

Aside from hobbies and work, how else do you spend your time?
Really, the majority of my time is happily spent with my wife and boys.  Since two of my kids are in school now, I try to be involved in their school as much as I can.  I am a Christian, and I spend a lot of time serving at church (www.armitagechurch.org), studying the Bible, and praying.  My wife and I both serve in the kids' ministry at church, where I teach first and second graders.  I do a lot of art related ministry as well.

What advice would you give an aspiring artist or writer?
My advice is pretty simple:  Practice, practice, practice!!!  The more you develop your skills as an artist or writer now, the stronger your work will be later.  Work hard in school.  Take art or writing classes after school, on weekends, or during the summer.  Read lots of books, and look at lots of different artists' work.  Most importantly, practice!  Did I mention it's important to practice?

Do you know of any resources for aspiring artists or writers?
Here are two good resources:
* The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
* "Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Market" (a Writer's Digest book that comes out annually)        

Simply put, Kevin Luthardt is a visual storyteller. 

        As far back as he can remember, Kevin has always been fanatical about drawing and telling stories through both images and words.  Thankfully, he grew up in a household that enouraged hard work and the development of his creativity.  This passion for art and "visual storytelling" inspired him later to formally study painting at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and seek a career in the arts.   The childlike sensibilities in his work and his diverse experience working with and teaching kids has led Kevin to focus his work on children and families.
        Kevin is now an author and illustrator of children's picture books, a painter, muralist, and teacher.  He has written and/or illustrated eight books for young readers so far.  His whimsical, narrative paintings and drawings have been represented by Mars Gallery in Chicago for 14 years.  He has created more than 50 large scale mural projects in schools, libraries, and other venues.  His work has been featured in or commissioned by Storyopolis in LA, Mazza Museum in Findlay, OH, Chicago Public Library system, Shedd Aquarium, Illinois Library Association, Chicago Public Schools, Kohl Children's Museum, TimeOut Chicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune, ArtCalendar Magazine, ABC News Chicago, and countless other entities.  He is very committed to using his work to teach and inspire students of all ages in inner-city, suburban, rural, and cross cultural settings alike.  He presents programs and presentations in about 40-50 schools, libraries, and other venues each year.  He currently lives in the Chicago area with his wife and three boys (soon to be four!). 
my buddies Darth Vader and Stormtrooper
the middle child
early painting on sandpaper
kindergarten self portrait
my pet duck Peepsee
the oddly gang
rabbit on water skis
high school art
painting in my parents' basement
me and my lovely wife Alicia
me and my boys:
Avery, Elijah, and Ezra
my super family
in front of my childhood home in Schaumburg, IL
drawing on our driveway with my sister
I'm the one in the light blue suit
my wife and I making beautiful music together