. . . What drives me is . . . to give shape to my dreams
— the old business of making myths —
the fundamental force of art. . . .
~ Allen Say in Caldecott Medal Acceptance Speech
. . . Memory is the most important asset to an artist.
What we call imagination is rearrangement
of memory. You cannot imagine without memory.
~ Allen Say, Interview with The Oregonian
Japan-born Allen Say (b. 1937) was apprenticed to a sign painter, studied architecture, and worked in commercial photography before ultimately dedicating himself to writing and illustrating books for children. Among his many books are The Boy of the Three-Year Nap, a re-telling by Dianne Snyder of a Japanese folktale and the recipient of both a Caldecott Honor Award (1989) and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award; Grandfather's Journey, a Caldecott Medal winner (1994); and the autobiographical Drawing from Memory, published in 2011. Say credits his artistic career to studies with cartoon artist Noro Shinpei whom Say describes as his sensei or "master".
Recently, Say, who was honored in 2000-2001 with a retrospective at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, was the subject of this Oregon Art Beat profile:
Here's a slideshow of some of Say's wonderful watercolor illustrations:
Say lives in Portland, Oregon.
Houghton Mifflin Books Author Profile of Allen Say
Jeff Baker, "Portland Author and Artist Allen Say's Books for Children Unfold in Luminous Dreams", The Oregonian, November 29, 2010
Library of Congress Webcasts with Allen Say, National Book Festival, 2011, 2002 (Transcripts are available at the links.)
Paper Tigers Interview with Allen Say
YouTube Video of Allen Say at 2011 National Book Festival