This month, Beanstack is partnering with Califa and BiblioLabs for California schools and public libraries to offer The Skin You Live In book challenge for PreK–5 readers. This imaginative picture book provides parents and educators a wonderful way to explore race, inclusion, and other social and emotional concepts with young readers. Published by the Chicago Children’s Museum in 2005, The Skin You Live In uses striking, whimsical illustrations by David Lee Cscisko paired with author Michael Tyler’s playful language to discuss important global issues and promote self acceptance.
We’ve interviewed illustrator David Lee Csicsko to learn more about him, his process as a creator, and what impacts his work. Check out our interview with him below, and learn more about his work here! You can also follow David by the hashtag #csicskokid.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading all the time; children’s books, biographies, & novels.
What are your favorite mediums?
Drawing in my sketch book with a good pencil, illustrating books, and designing mosaics, tee shirts, shopping bags & tote bags.
What is your favorite thing you've illustrated or designed?
1st. Illustrating The Skin You Live In.
2nd. Designing the 2012 Obama Christmas White House Decorations.
3rd. Designing a mosaic octopus children’s fountain in a public park.
What's your favorite work of art by someone other than yourself?
I like modern art … art that’s strong in color.
What do you think makes a good story?
That’s a hard question … something with imagination yet grounded & playful.
How does your work empower yourself and others?
I try to represent as many people as I can, all shapes & sizes & many skin tones.
When did you first realize you wanted to be an illustrator? And/or how did you become an illustrator?
Since I was in early grade school. I entered every art & poster contest. And then went to art school.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring illustrator, what would it be?
Keep at it, draw everyday, and don’t give up. Think “what can I create that’s different & something that only I can draw?” and have fun exploring.
What inspired your illustrations for The Skin You Live In? How did its reception shape your work?
I started with simple sketches. I read every page and thought [about] what the heart & soul of this idea that’s in the writing. I’d read each page and very quickly think of what will make sense visually and communicate [the idea].
How does your work encourage conversations around race, inclusion, and other social and emotional concepts with parents, educators, and young readers?
I remember thinking “include images of all sorts of children, kids in wheelchairs, kids playing the violin, basketball,” and I just kept including.
Any additional information or fun facts?
My favorite color is always changing. More and more I believe “imagination” is so important and laughter and finding common ground.
David Lee Csicsko is an internationally recognized and celebrated designer and artist currently living and working in Chicago, Illinois. During his 30 year career, David has engaged in a wide variety of projects at nearly every scale; from small privately commissioned prints to to his more recent explorations of the possibilities inherent in working with stained glass and mosaics at large scales. These monumental projects have included work for hospitals, universities, elementary schools, churches, and various private homes.
While David’s aesthetic and striking use of color and pattern is distinctive, each project he engages in is entirely unique. Through his work, David celebrates the diversity and richness of the human imagination, and expresses the joys of life through his dynamic use of color, bold graphics and playful patterns.