Ed Young, winner of the 1990 Caldecott Medal, has illustrated over 40 books for children, four of which he has also written. He cites the philosophy of Chinese painting as his inspiration. “A Chinese painting is often accompanied by words,” explains Young. “They are complementary. There are things that words do that pictures never can, and likewise, there are images that words can never describe.”
Content and the telling of the tale itself provide Young with the initial inspiration for his art and with the motivation for page design and sequence. Accuracy in research is essential to his work — whether he is illustrating fantasy, folk tale, or fact. According to Ed, a strong foundation in credibility must be established in order to create new and exciting images. Through such images, he hopes to capture his readers and ultimately stimulate some sort of awareness in them.
Challenge and growth are central to Ed's role as illustrator, and it is this quest for growth that caused him to move away from advertising in the 1960s. He wanted something more expansive, something more expressive. Ed found what he was looking for in children's books. “I feel the story has to be an exciting and moving experience for a child,” Young explains. “Before I am involved with a project, I must be moved, and as I grow, I try to create something exciting. It is my purpose to stimulate growth in the reader as an active participant.”
Ed Young was born in Tienstin, China. He grew up in Shanghai and later moved to Hong Kong. He came to the United States as a young man on a student visa. A graduate of the Los Angeles Art Center, Young has since taught at the Pratt Institute, Yale University, Naropa Institute, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. He currently lives with his wife in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.