Here is a brief bio:
Growing up, David Biedrzycki (beh-drick-key) was like many kids—active and curious. He played baseball in summer, football in the fall, and basketball in the winter. But most of all, David loved to draw. “The first face I drew looked like an alien from outer space, but I kept practicing and practicing. After what seemed to be my one hundredth attempt I drew a face that looked pretty good,” says David. Once he got the hang of it, he couldn’t stop. He drove his fourth-grade teacher crazy with all his drawing, until she made him a deal: if he completed all his classroom assignments correctly he could draw as long as he wanted. She even entered one of his drawings into a contest at a local museum, where it won first place for fourth-grade students!
Since then David has turned his childhood passion into a career. He has been creating illustrations for book publishers, advertising agencies, magazines, and design firms since 1980. His art has graced the cover of KidSoft magazine, New England Aquarium billboards, and children’s software packaging such as “The Amazon Trail” and “Odell Down Under.” His clients include Celestial Seasonings, After the Fall Juices, IBM, and Newsweek.
Author Spotlight Dave Biedrzycki:
WOTS: What was your road to publication?
DB: I’ve been pretty lucky. Initially author Jerry Pallotta approached me to illustrate several of his books for Charlesbridge Publishing. At the time, most of my illustration work was for ad agencies and design firms. Children’s book illustration provided a nice diversion from the fast paced need- it-yesterday world of advertising illustration. Jerry and I collaborated on several projects, including a couple of non-fiction titles on bugs and beetles. For those books, I did a lot of research on insects that helped me in the development of my Ace Lacewing character. I showed Ace Lacewing sketches to editors at Charlesbridge publishing and they loved it. Once published, the Ace Lacewing series put me on the map as an author/illustrator.
WOTS: Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you plot or not?
DB: In the case of Ace Lacewing, I guess I do research and plot before the story is written.
With Ace I’ve always had the intention of making the personalities and characteristics of the bug suspects true to the type of bug they actually are. Researching bugs provides me discovery and ideas as to how they could be involved with a crime and how they could relate to other bugs. For example, in “The Big Swat,” Bug League baseball player Big Hoppi is a leafhopper. In nature, leafhoppers have a symbiotic relation with certain type of ants. The leafhopper provides them honeydew in exchange for protection. The ants are actually leafhopper bodyguards, which was perfect for what I wanted Big Hoppi to be: a big league player with an entourage of ant bodyguards. This relationship adds a lot to the plot of the story.
DB: In addition to the three Ace Lacewing books already out there, I have two more titles that I’m working on for the series. Also a sequel to “Me and My Dragon”, a Christmas Book, and another book that I’m doing with Jerry Pallotta through Scholastic. I’ve also been writing and sketching out a graphic novel for beginning readers.
WOTS: Describe your studio or usual workspace for us.
DB: My studio is in my house. It’s a room in the corner of the first floor that has two windows and a nice view of the neighborhood. I have three computers in it. All my work is digital. Working digitally is a much healthier environment than using paints and airbrush, as I used to. It’s not a very big space. The walls are covered with prints of my art. My “Idea Wall” has sketches and writings for what I think are my best book concepts. It’s pretty messy. I work at home because if I had an office outside of the house I’d never see my awesome wife.
WOTS: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
DB: Maybe being an actor. I act out my characters all the time, especially when I’m writing about them. I like to think I’m pretty good, but my kids tell me otherwise.
WOTS: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
DB: Probably that I’m blind in one eye and slightly colorblind in the other. Other than that, I’m a fine physical specimen. Ha!
WOTS: I have heard that you love school visits. Can you share what would see at a typical school visit?
DB: I visit on average around 70-80 schools a year all over the world. One of the things I love about a school visit is keeping my audience engaged and having fun. I want them to see how I create ideas and how those ideas are turned into books. I don’t want to just stand up in front of them holding a book and showing sketches. I want them to live the process. I like to show them how a spark of an idea can be cultivated and developed into a fun story. It’s great for me too, because I get to bounce ideas off the kids. How they react or don’t react to things I’m showing them is so important to me. It keeps me in touch with my audience and gives me the opportunity to see what really engages them.
Except for my journal, I do all my sketches and art on computer. I bring this technology with me to schools so I can show students the process I use to create my art. I use a Wacom Tablet in a simple step-by-step feature of my presentation. I also recommend some free websites that are very similar to the applications I use to create my art.
A librarian from an American school in Japan once told me that he never saw anyone push the envelope with humor, but still give an educational, well-rounded presentation like I do. That’s my goal. I want the kids to be entertained, but more importantly engaged and inspired so that when the hour or so is up, they are hungry for more.
WOTS: What was your inspiration for Me and My Dragon?
DB: I had several dogs growing up. Each one of them had their own personality and they were always getting into trouble. I loved them, we were buddies. “Me and My Dragon” started with a sketch I did when I saw a kid trying to walk his dog down the street in front of my office. The kid was a peanut and the dog was twice his size. It was pretty funny watching him holding on for dear life with his parents close behind. I took the sketch and put it up on the “Idea Wall” in my office. There are so many books about boys and their dogs so I reworked the pet into a dragon pulling the boy down the street. I played around with the idea and drew a cute little puppy dragon. Sparky was born. I started showing the progression of the book in pagination form to students during my assemblies. It was a huge hit. The more I showed it the more I developed the humor and timing of the story. I must have shown the book to over 80 thousand kids over the past three years. I think Sparky is every dog I ever owned trapped in a dragon’s body.
WOTS: We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate with our writing, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?
DB: I’m definitely proactive. When I’m writing and I get stuck, I draw a picture. When I get stuck drawing pictures, I write. The two work hand in hand.
Sometimes I like to draw my story out without any words. Sometimes I write something and draw a picture from it. I think my ideal story would be art and words together in perfect balance. The words just adding the right effect to the image, is like icing on a cake to me.
If you’d like to learn more about Dave’s newest books Me and My Dragon and his Ace Lacewing series be sure to visit his website www.davidbiedrzycki.com. Here is a Kirkus Review for Me and My Dragon. You can also follow Dave on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks Dave for taking time to visit us on the Sidewalk, we really appreciate it.
Writing on the Sidewalk