Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dan Yaccarino: Say, “YES!”

Dan Yaccarino identifies himself as a character designer.  He is an author and illustrator.  He has published 54 books in the past 20 years.  According to Yaccarino Studio, over 1.5 million books have sold.  His awards include the Bologna Ragazzi (graphic and editorial design), The New York Time’s 10 Best Illustrated (selected by panel of judges as 1 of 10 best illustrated), ALA Notable (American Library Association), and the Parents Choice Award (honoring best books for children).
Although many of us tell our children that they need to have experience in another field in case being an artist doesn’t work, Yaccarino said his success is due, in part, to the fact that he had nothing to fall back on.  To him, having only had experience in the Arts meant that he could not allow himself to fail.  He had to make his art career work.  He credits his successful career in the art field due to hard work and not being afraid to say “yes” to new challenges.

Yaccarino believes we should keep notebooks (writers) and sketchbooks (illustrators).  He talked of how, through the years, he has saved stacks of his sketchbooks.  “You need a safe place to dump all your thoughts out - even the mistakes.”  Yaccarino has often used his old sketchbooks to get his ideas from, as he works on new products.  He also collects toys. His favorite are toy robots.  He gets many character ideas from his toys. 

Lastly, Yaccarino implored us to say “yes” to new challenges and to create books about things that we are interested in.  He does.


  1. Isn't he great! I have heard him before but at a much smaller venue than SCBWI. Did he tell the story of how he got his first book contract?

  2. Oh, oh. If he did, I don't remember, and it's not in my notes. Would you like to tell the story? :)

  3. I'd like to hear that too Louise! Thanks Brenda - is this a new book? Which of his is otherwise a favorite of yours? I like Every Friday, probably because it's so sweet and reminds me of NY...sigh.
    Julie Rowan-Zoch
    (PS-eblogger won't let me 'publish' a comment as a wordpress user - any suggestions?)

    1. Hi, Julie. Yes, ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA is his new book. My favorite of his is GOOD NIGHT, MR. NIGHT, because his illustrations were so creative.
      About eblogger, I think maybe ask those knowledgeable "12x12in'12" techies. They might know what to do. I'm not very computer savvy