Illustrator of the Week - Don Freeman

Don Freeman was a painter, printmaker, cartoonist, children's book author, and illustrator. Born in 1908 and orphaned in the same year, Freeman was adopted and grew up in San Diego, California. Later he moved to New York Cirt where he studied etching at the Art Students League with Joan Sloan and Harry Wickey. Freeman was known for always carrying a sketchbook with him. His early images captured the vibrancy and humanity of New York City. He wasn't afraid to draw showgirls, Bowery boys, drunks, apple sellers, and window washers. To him, the people were New York. Freeman was also a jazz musician and the brother of hotel entrepreneur Warren Freedman. In 1951, Freeman began illustrating children's books. his wife, Lydia, also an accomplished artist, helped him write and illustrate many of his books.

Freeman first became interested in children's books when William Saroyan asked him to illustrate a few books. however, his greatest influence was the artist Honore Daumier. Freeman studied many of Daumiers works as well as possessed a large collection of books on the artist. Freeman wrote and illustrated over 20 children's book, however his most famous and well-read is the story of Corduroy. Corduroy was a groundbreaking books as it was one of the few books that featured an African-American child in a picture book. Freeman once said, "Simplicity is the essence of chilfren's books stories, not simple mindedness." Among his other books are A Pocket for Corduroy, Beady Bear, Dandelion, Gregory's Shadow, and Hattie the Backstage Bat.