Dan Santat . . .
Where do I begin? The man is unbelievably creative. Yesterday he was recognized for his brilliance by the 2015 Caldecott Award Selection Committee. Chair Dr. Junko Yokota had this to say: “Santat makes the unimaginable, imaginable.”
Santat was awarded the Randolph Caldecott Medal for his book The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. If you haven’t read it yet, do! It’s an adorable adventure about an even more adorable imaginary friend who sets out to find an unimaginary child to pair with. I’ve known Santat would get a Caldecott since my wife bought me the book Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World), written by Mac Barnett. (I’d go off about how amazing Mac Barnett is as well, but that would require an entirely different post!)
My first encounter with Santat’s work was watching Disney Channel's The Replacements, a hysterical cartoon he created. The show unravels around two adopted children who have a “FleemCo” phone which allows them to call in replacements for the people in their lives. Todd is a troublemaker who often replaces anyone demanding he do extra work, while Riley replaces authority figures she believes are unjust. Their adopted parents are quite interesting as well: the mother a spy, the father a stuntman. All together, the characters make for an amusing, chaotic mix.
What I admire most about Santat is his appreciation for others and his honesty.
On his Twitter and tumblr (humorously named A SLOW GROWING MASS OF TANGIBLE THOUGHTS), he often acknowledges those who reach out to him. When a mother sent him a picture of a homemade Beekle she’d made for her child, he excitedly posted her creation online.
Santat is honest about the struggles of being an artist. In one of his posts, he writes:
“Part of the problem of being surrounded by exceptionally talented people is that you always feel like what you’re doing isn't good enough. You always feel like you’re trying to keep up, and you work harder until you reach your limit. I think I've reached my limit. And it breaks my heart.
“I blame myself. I curse my body for not keeping up with my brain. There are days when I slack off. There are days that I’m too tired, or I don’t feel inspired, and I don’t feel like I get anything done.
“I’m 39 and I feel tired. This year has made me evaluate a lot of things about how I've lived my life so far. I've been sprinting throughout this long marathon of life and I’m tired. I need to slow down. I need to let life take me where I am destined to go rather than constantly fighting the current. Every fiber of my being wants to keep sprinting . . . but I have to accept that I am only human.”
I have to dedicate this post to my wife Priscilla for introducing me to this titan of creativity. I am forever thankful for her guiding hand to good literature!
Be at peace and keep writing. You can only get better.
~ CR Guardian