TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Ian Falconer

Ian Falconer

"I was born in Connecticut in 1959. As a boy, I attended the Long Ridge School in Stamford. At the age of fourteen, I was sent away to the Cambridge School of Weston in Massachusetts. Both schools were liberal, experimental and progressive and allowed me to spend serious time concentrating on my artistic interests. For this I cannot thank my parents enough.

After experiencing such a lovely, tolerant and nurturing environment, however, I was caught completely off guard by the cold realities of collegiate academia. New York University gently asked me to leave after my sophomore year. I then spent two years at Parson's School of Design in New York before transferring to Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles, I began my career as an artist. I also started working with the painter David Hockney. I first assisted him on revivals of some of his earlier opera productions...later I began collaborating with him, designing sets and costumes for new productions of Tristan and Isolde for the Los Angeles Opera, Die Frau Ohne Schatten for Covent Garden and Turandot for the Chicago Lyric and San Francisco Operas. It was here that I learned the ancient and delicate art of transforming a large, difficult, aggressive, middle-aged dramatic soprano into an eighteen-year-old virgin princess.

Five years ago I moved back to New York, where I have continued painting and stage design; some theatre, mostly ballet, notably Stravinsky's Scene de Ballet for New York City Ballet and his Firebird for Boston Ballet. Also, I started working for The New Yorker magazine, my first time doing illustration. I am now working on my fourteenth cover for them.

At the same time, I began fooling around with an idea for Olivia. I intended it originally as a little Christmas present for my niece of the same name. The real Olivia is an extremely headstrong, imaginative child who, even at the age of three (she is seven, now), could argue (or stonewall, or bulldoze, or filibuster) through any "inconvenience" to achieve her goal. (Always in the nicest way, I might add; she's very charming.)

At any rate, the drawings and the character became better and better, so I began to really develop it in earnest. Eventually, I brought it to a large Manhattan agency, where I was told that although they loved the drawings, they felt that I should be paired with a professional writer. Well, having so carefully created this character, I am afraid my vanity wouldn't allow me to relegate myself to "illustrated by." I also thought my instincts about the story were, if unpolished, right, and had happened organically with the pictures.

So, I sat on it. Then a couple of years later, Anne Schwartz at Simon and Schuster called me. She liked my New Yorker work and asked if I would be interested in doing a children's book. I brought her Olivia.A

Additional Biographical Information about Ian Falconer

Best-selling author, noted illustrator and set designer Ian Falconer has had a varied career spanning the worlds of publishing, opera, ballet and fine arts. Born in Ridgefield, Connecticut, Mr. Falconer studied Art History at New York University and painting at Parsons School of Design and Otis Art Institute.

Under the direction of artist David Hockney, he collaborated on the costume designs for the Los Angeles Opera production of Tristan and Isolde (1987); served as co-designer (sets and costumes) with Mr. Hockney on the Lyric Opera's production of Turandot (1992); and designed the costumes for The Royal Opera's production of Die Frau Ohne Schatten at Covent Garden. In 1996, Mr. Falconer designed the sets for The Atlantic Theater's production of The Santaland Diaries, written by David Sedaris.

For New York City Ballet, Mr. Falconer has designed scenery and costumes for Scènes de Ballet, for students from the School of American Ballet (1999), and Variations Sérieuses (2001), both choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. He also designed scenery and costumes for Boston Ballet's production of Firebird (1999) also choreographed by Mr. Wheeldon and Stravinsky's Jeu de Cartes (2001), choreographed by Peter Martins.

In addition to his stage work, Mr. Falconer has created numerous covers for the New Yorker magazine and has designed floats for the new Main Street Parade at Disneyland. He is the author and illustrator of the critically acclaimed and New York Times best-selling children's books Olivia, a 2001 Caldecott Honor book; Olivia Saves the Circus, a New York Times Best Illustrated book of 2001; Olivia's Opposites; and Olivia Counts. His most recent book is the #1 New York Times best-seller Olivia and the Missing Toy (October 2003).