Erin Bennett Banks

Native to upstate New York, Erin Bennett Banks is a nationally published illustrator whose children’s books have gained wide appeal for her use of rich oils, vibrant colors, and African-themed stories. Banks has illustrated children’s books for Candlewick Press, August House, and Carolrhoda Books/Lerner, earning recognition as one of New York Times’ Best Children’s Books 2005, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award, 2006 National Parenting Publications Awards and the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Outstanding Book Awards. Her illustrations have been reviewed in Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, The Washington Post, and Parents Magazine. Additional clients include Harvard Business Review, Focus on the Family, and The Weekly Reader, with vendors ranging from JCPenney to Bed, Bath & Beyond. Banks holds an MFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design and BA in studio art from Houghton College, NY. She lives in Charleston, SC with husband, illustrator Timothy Banks and pugs Fiona and Grace.

Interview

What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaolo

What’s your favorite line from a book?

"Let the wild rumpus start!"
 —Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon, Kadir Nelson, and Maxfield Parrish

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

Illustration is visual storytelling, and I’ve always been fascinated with stories. I love the combination of pictures with words at its most basic and conceptual level. As an illustrator, I also love the “longevity” of books (compared with other types of media). I started my journey simply wanting to be an artist, so this was a natural direction to follow, given my appreciation for the art of the storybook. Some of the most profound statements are delivered (and communicated) through children’s books. I love being part of this.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Immerse yourself in the work of other authors and illustrators. Take note of what captures your attention and stays in your memory, and apply those principles to your own work. Beyond this, just create. Be creative for the sake of creativity. Let your mind wander and tap into your original ideas, and trust that your greatest work will come when you let yourself just be an artist.