Illustrator and Author of Children’s Books
Graphics Reporter and Illustrator for the Austin American-Statesman
Recent books illustrated by Don
Ron’s Big Mission, written by Corinne Naden and Rose Blue (Dutton, 2009)
I am My Grandpa’s Enkelin, by Walter Wanergin, Jr. (Paraclete Press, 2007)
The Hidden Feast, by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss (August House, 2006)
Sure As Sunrise, written by Alice McGill (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)
Three Words That Describe Him
Husband. Father. Grandfather
(yes, he has two grandchildren)
His Creative Style
Scattered. Just look at his studio. See his portfolio. His projects are varied. He’s created art for picture books, wallpaper, fabric, greeting cards, light switches, digital scrapbooking materials, and the MY PEEPZ characters (calendars).
Don describes himself as a man under constant revision. “God ain’t through with me yet,” he says. Most recently, he crossed over from the illustration side of the book business to author his first picture book, IT JES’ HAPPENED: WHEN BILL TRAYLOR TAUGHT HIMSELF TO DRAW. It will publish with Lee & Low Books in the fall of 2010.
Brown Bookshelf Role
The aesthetic technician. It’s not at all fair that the visual work falls to Don simply because he’s an illustrator. But it’s a role he’s embraced with a passion. The idea for the poster was his sole creation. The Brown Bookshelf logo, all him. Don’s attention to artistic detail is what breathes life into our mission, reminding both us and our visitors that it’s close to magic when words and pictures work together.
What You Don’t Know About Don . . .
He was inspired at an early age by his Aunt Eleanora E. Tate, who was a reporter for the Iowa Bystander, a Features writer for the Des Moines Register, and later a novelist. From her he learned that he could be anything he wanted to be.
He was also inspired by the character J.J Evans from the television show Good Times. On the show, J.J was an artist, who later went on to work as an art director for an advertising agency (the actual paintings on the show were those of artist Ernie Barnes).
In seventh-grade, his principal confiscated his home economics report that he “decorated” with the image of a French maid, copied from his father’s
adult art magazines.
Grandma’s Teddy, written by his wife, Tamera Diggs-Tate, was one of the first books he illustrated. It’s the story of a little girl in search of the perfect gift for her grandmother, which turns out to be a kinte cloth teddy bear. The book was sold along with an actual kinte cloth bear, and was published by Identity Toys, an African American toy company (no longer in existence).
He is a Scout leader for his son’s wolf den.
His beard would be mostly white if it weren’t for the magic of Men’s Clairol.
A few samples of Don’s work:
(first sample) Marcus draws a guardian angel for his dad who is in prison, from the book THE LEGEND OF THE VALENTINE.
(second) “Dreaming your dream of beautiful black, black all around.” From the book BLACK ALL AROUND!
(third) Bruh Snake and Bruh Oppossum from the book SURE AS SUNRISE: STORIES OF BRUH RABBIT AND HIS WALKIN’ TALKIN’ FRIENDS.
(fourth) From the book SUMMER SUN RISIN’