Photo by Sharon Kinder-Geiger
As an illustrator, Tamara Schmitz is well known to the many elementary-grade fans of Laurie Friedman’s Mallory chapter books. Tamara grew up one of six children in the small town of Carey, Ohio. She graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design, and spent her early career as an art director in advertising, teaching art, and illustrating greeting cards. Schmitz addresses a topic close to her own heart in her original self-illustrated picture book Standing on My Own Two Feet: A Child’s Affirmation of Love in the Midst of Divorce. Sitting at her desk for too many hours, however, drives Tamara crazy. So in her free time she works on getting her third degree black belt in Taekwondo. Tamara resides in Cincinnati with her husband, two children, and stepson.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
I believe it was a Little Golden Book titled I’m Suzie. My mom used to read it to me as if I was Suzie and the most important person in the world! I also loved Are You My Mother?
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“When I was little, I cried a lot. Now I use words.—No.” From When I Was Little: A Four-Year-Old’s Memoir of her Youth
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
I so love the dynamic duo of Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. I’ve tried to emulate Cornell’s style but I couldn’t even come close! Shel Silverstein is another favorite.
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I wanted to illustrate even as a young child; drawing came naturally to me. The writing came much later when I was inspired to write a book for young children going through divorce. I’m not sure which I like best!?
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
Where there is a will, there is a way. If you want to write or illustrate badly enough, you CAN make it happen!