I grew up in Wisconsin where the winters are long and cold. I was blind in my right eye from a playground accident. Forbidden to play sports, I spent my time reading and drawing. My parents were well educated and fiercely intellectual. I guess I rebelled against that. My brother and sisters and I would play on the ice of Lake Winnebago and, when we fell in, rush home before our clothing froze solid.
I moved to New York City when I was nineteen. I enrolled in Parson’s School of Design where I earned a mixed record of As from the inspiring teachers and D’s from the dullards. I was very proud of my record, although it was an impediment to fine arts grad school, so I went to work for The New York Times instead.
I spent nearly ten years there. I loved the newspaper. It felt like the cutting edge of history. We were all a big family, the illustrators, art directors and editors. We got free Yankees tickets in the era when Reggie Jackson anchored the line up and Lou Pinella played third…I freelance for the Times to this day.
In those days I had an unheated loft on Fifth Avenue. It had seventeen windows with great views of lower Manhattan. I could count forty wooden water tanks from my southeast window. It was punk rock days and I was well acquainted with every nightclub in Lower Manhattan.
In the eighties, I moved to a loft in Tribecca and began to work for magazines. I also rented the second floor of a charming 1810 house in Sag Harbor across from the elementary school. The most magical sound in the world is children’s voices at recess. I learned to surf. It changed my life. I loved it instantly.
By the nineties, I was spending much of my time in Sag Harbor and in Utah, where I had gone to learn to ski. I taught Illustration at Brigham Young University. I’d taught before, at SVA. I was doing lots of Newsweek covers in those days and working for nearly everybody, so I needed a seamless transfer of phone lines, a good office, and plenty of interns. I was the missionary from Greenwich Village. This was a fun time. I split my year between Utah in the winter, Manhattan in the fall, and Sag Harbor in the summer.
In 1994 I moved for good, to Salt Lake City. I met my wife, Ruth, on a blind date. She was a young physician doing heart transplants and stuff like that. She's as smart as it gets and as cool as a firefighter under pressure. And she bakes. And she's cute. And she loves animals, so I figured I'd have a shot.
In 1996, Bill Gates founded Slate.com, an internet newsmagazine. I was hired to help establish the look with illustration, and I'm a weekly contributor today.
Ruth and I settled in Park City, Utah in 2003 and Wow! City! came out in the fall of 2004, winning an ALA Notable Award. It was my love letter to New York as seen from the eyes of my then toddler, Izzy. Izzy's sixteen now, and has a sister, Jo, who’s twelve. I’ve written or illustrated twenty books since! We have three dogs, two cats, two guinea pigs, two bearded dragons and about a hundred fish. Moose live in the woods out back.