December 2006 Issue
Tim Bowers Illustrations bring children's books to life.
On a typical workday morning, Tim Bowersstrolls out his back door to his custom-designed studio on the wooded outskirts of Granville. There, in a comfortable, open room lighted by skylights and windows, he begins his artistic brainstorming. As a children's literature illustrator, Bowers, 49, is involved in nearly every step of bringing a book to life through pictures, creating dozens of imaginative, humorous characters that get in and out of scrapes and survive wild adventures.
"I love to tell stories with my artwork," he says. "And being funny has always been an important partof my stories."
Bowers' first children's book, The Toy Circus, written by Jan Wahl, was published in 1986. Since then, he has illustrated more than 20 books for publishers such as Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins and Harcourt School Publishers and has received numerous awards and honors for his work.
Bowers and his wife, Keryn, regularly visit schools in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, where they share illustration techniques and information on book publishing with elementary and middle-school students.
Before launching a full-time children's book career, Bowers worked as a greeting card illustrator for Hallmark and helped develop the popular Shoebox card line.
"Greeting cards are very closely related to children's books," Bowers says. "Illustrating for Hallmark helped prepare me for illustrating children's books."
As a young boy, Bowers immersed himself in drawing and cartooning, relying heavily on inspiration from the animals that populated his grandparents' property in Troy. Lucy and John Stevens opened their home to every animal that came their way, including a squirrel monkey, an African grey parrot and a collection of cats, dogs and ponies.
"Visiting their house was like visiting the zoo," Bowers says. "We would ride the ponies, chase the chickens, tease the monkey."
During his formal education at the Columbus College of Art & Design, Bowers was also influenced by some of the greatest illustrators of the past, such as N. C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell, as well as children's book illustrators including Wallace Tripp and Etienne Delessert.
Since moving to Granville eight years ago, Bowers has found ways to include the community in his work. When they were younger, Bowers' children often modeled as characters in his books. In Sometimes I Wonder If Poodles Like Noodles, published in 1999, Brynne, Megan, Allison and John all modeled for the book. Now Bowers taps into the Granville community for his characters and even held a contest for local dogs to star in Sherman Crunchley, published in 2003.
Bowers is presently developing his own line of children's book characters, starring a menagerie of animals he's dubbed Cutie Paws.
To learn more about Tim Bowers and his work, visit www.timbowers.com.