685 – Littlest Artist

Littlest Artist

The Littlest Artist, cover of SPIDER magazine
Acryla gouache on Bristol board
Collection of the artist

As a kid growing up, I loved Spider Magazine. My mom had a subscription, we used to read it all the time. It was a great magazine and so early in my career as a children’s book illustrator, I contributed from time to time to Cricket and Spider Magazine for children. One of my favorite pieces from that time is the cover that I titled The Littlest Artist. It’s a fairy, but it’s a pretty standard fairy. Really the thing that I was most excited about was painting these insects, these kind of anthropomorphic renditions of insects. Insects always get a bad rap. Most people when you ask them about bugs, they go, “Oh bugs. I hate bugs. Bugs are disgusting.”

And so I really wanted to create some insects that I thought would be friendly, and funny, and interesting, and in the world of fairy, have them cavorting with frogs in tail coats and little baby fairies. Which brings to mind like the images of Richard Doyle’s Fairyland. But the thing that I love the most about this painting are the insects. And my editor at Simon and Schuster at the time saw that cover and realized that I could paint insects, and consequently he made me an offer to illustrate a book that he was working on about insects, and that book happened to be the Spider and the Fly.