Scott Gustafson’s earliest artistic ambition was to become an animator. But by the time he entered high school, he became acquainted with artists from the Golden Age of Illustration. Great illustrators like N.C. Wyeth, Normal Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and Arthur Rackham opened a door onto a world of beautiful images that continue to inspire him to this day. Lingering dreams of making animated films, however, led Scott to major in animation at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. It wasn’t until after leaving art school that the possibility of a career as a freelance illustrator began to truly appeal to him. Over the nearly twenty-five years that span his career, he has had theopportunity to fulfill commissions for a number of varied clients and publishers such as Celestial Seasonings, Saturday Evening Post, The Bradford Exchange, Dreamworks and The Greenwich Workshop. His illustrated books include The Night Before Christmas, Peter Pan, Nutcracker, as well as two original titles, Animal Orchestra and Alphabet Soup. His newest release, Classic Fairy Tales, was recently awarded a Chesley award for best interior book illustrations from the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.
Like children’s stories, Bible stories teach us lessons about life. “I grew up in a small town and attended a Lutheran grade school where I was taught many Bible stories at a very early age,” says artist Scott Gustafson. “I think of my approach to my artwork as a form of storytelling; and although most of my work to date has been illustrating fairy tales, nursery rhymes and other forms of literature, it all really comes down to telling a story in pictures.
The story of Daniel is about a man who is punished for his beliefs by a king who was swayed by vanity and bad advice. But Daniel is also the story of true faith in the face of death and of a man who had the strength of his convictions. I chose to depict Daniel standing in a pool of mysterious light. Behind and around him, lions lurk in the shadows—nearly brushing his robes as they pace to and fro.Yet, these ravenous beasts dare not lay a single paw on the seemingly vulnerable figure who stands in their midst. In these turbulent times, the story of Daniel seems very appropriate. For although his faith is the reason he was thrown to the lions, it was also Daniel’s faith that ultimately saved him.”
From nonsense to lessons learned, these forty five rhymes include the very well known (Itsy Bitsy Spider) and the somewhat familiar, (Hickety, Pickety, my black hen). The truly fantastic pictures speak more than one thousands words in details as artist Scott Gustafson riffs in paint on themes present and imagined in each verse.
Nursery rhymes are classic and so are some of artist’s interpretations but other paintings are surprises, like an anthropomorphic baking bear, a pelican sea captain and Peter Piper as a pug on two legs. Welcome to a world where “There Was a Crooked Man” is not about a hunched-back elder but rather a madcap, double-jointed dandy who might be “crooked” in more ways than one. Jack (Be Nimble) is a leaping cricket and Yankee Doodle a fun-loving chipmunk on a full-sized horse.
Scott Gustafson’s unique style, influenced by legendary book illustrators Arthur Rackham and N.C. Wyeth, makes this a volume to be treasured by children and illustrated book lovers of all ages.
Scott Gustafson follows his Tom Thumb with this sweet scene of domestic tranquility. As always, Gustafson´s image is filled with lush and delightful details that will be fun to explore for many viewings to come.