I first came across Stephen Savage's work when I purchased Little Tug for my son. He was just an infant at the time so it was hard to tell if he had favorite stories or not, but there was no doubt, Little Tug was (and still is) a favorite. If he was fussy, Little Tug calmed him down. If he was tired, Little Tug helped him go to sleep. And if he was smily (as he often is) Little Tug made him smile all the more. With that being said, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to interview author and illustrator, Stephen Savage. Enjoy.
KMP: I'm sure you've been asked this question many times but what gave you the idea for Little Tug?
SS: I wrote the book back in 2009 when I had 2 things on the brain: BABIES and BOATS. My daughter had just been born, and I was seeing tugboats and ocean liners on my way to my new studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn. The 2 things came together to form the story.
KMP: Did you have a particular city in mind when you did the illustrations for Little Tug? (I always think of it as NYC.)
SS: I couldn't help but set it in NYC-- I've lived here for 27 years! It is, however, a stylized, Art Deco-y version of my home. I kept things vague so the book would feel iconic and universal.
KMP: When you write and illustrate for children do the words come to you first and then the illustrations?
SS: Yup. Writing comes first. I MUST have a story in order to make pictures. Illustration is a text-based art form! The only exception to this in my own work are the wordless WHERE'S WALRUS? books. And don't ask me how I created those!
Interesting to note that LITTLE TUG is the first picture book I both wrote and illustrated.
KMP: Can you tell us a little bit about the materials you like to use for your illustrations?
SS: I use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator (along with a Wacom tablet) primarily. But some of my early books are linocut.
KMP: Among the books you've written and/or illustrated, do you have a favorite?
They're like my kids and I love them all, so it's hard to pick a favorite (yes, I know… so cliche). I also feel like I'm still learning my craft and that my best work is ahead of me.
KMP: We all have books that we loved as a kid -- would you mind sharing some of yours with us?
I loved books by the greats: SUESS, SENDAK, CROCKET JOHNSON, EZRA JACK KEATS. I also adored 2 little known books: THE WHALES GO BY by Fred Phleger and MY VISIT TO THE DINOSAURS by Aliki.
KMP: Lastly, do you have any upcoming publications that you can share with us?
SS: THE MIXED-UP TRUCK, hits shelves on July 5
JACK B. NINJA (written by Tim McCanna), 2017
LITTLE PLANE LEARNS TO WRITE, 2017
If you haven't already purchased Little Tug (or other books by Mr. Savage), they're all waiting for you on Amazon!