Bryan Collier loves to paint. And he has successfully channeled his creative energy and love of art into an illustrious career as a children's book illustrator and writer. Originally from rural Maryland, Bryan now calls New York City's Harlem home. He began painting at the age of fifteen and eventually landed a scholarship to the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York, where he later graduated with honors.
Collier's illustrations in his book Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport bring to life the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This book shows Collier's talent for mixing art mediums to create stunning illustrations that entrance the reader. Martin's Big Words received much acclaim and was awarded the 2002 Caldecott honor as well as the 2002 Coretta Scott King Honor.
Collier has also won acclaim for his book Uptown, which was his first foray into both writing and illustrating. Uptown is the recipient of various awards: the 2001 Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, the 2001 Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Illustrator, Parenting Magazine's Reading Magic Award and the Marion Vannett Ridgeway Award for a first-time author and illustrator.
Uptown immediately immerses the reader in a colorful collage of the sights and sounds of Harlem viewed through the wide-eyed innocence of a little boy who lives there. The vibrant mix of colors and shapes sets off the minimalist text as the reader strolls through neighborhoods with brownstones lined up like chocolate bars, the sweet sounds of Duke Ellington's jazz lingering in the distance. Anyone can gain a sense of why Collier loves Harlem and feels connected to it in so many ways.
Collier has also illustrated various other books, such as Freedom River and Visiting Langston. Despite the fact that his career is in high gear, Collier completely values his role as the director for the Harlem Horizon Art Studio, an art program based out of the Harlem Hospital and designed especially for teenagers and kids. It is Collier's belief that teaching the appreciation of art can only lead to positive things.