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31 July 2002




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Art & (Kinuko Y.) Craft August 2002

Born in Kanazawa, Japan, Kinuko Y. Craft studied there, receiving a BFA in 1962, before finding a sponsor to continue her education in the United States. She began work as a freelance commercial artist in 1970, producing work for The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, Playboy, Newsweek, Time, Forbes, Sports Illustrated, and National Geographic. Her cover paintings have appeared on books by authors from C.S. Lewis and Isaac Asimov to Stephen King and Isabel Allende. In recent years she's concentrated on illustrating picture books, including 2 books of fairy tales as told by her daughter [Marie] Charlotte Craft: Cupid and Psyche (1996), and King Midas and the Golden Touch (1999). She has won over 100 awards, including two Chesley Awards, two Spectrum Gold Awards, and the Spectrum Grand Master Award. Her paintings are part of permanent collections including the National Geographic Society in Washington DC and The Museum of American Illustration in New York City. Her latest book, Sleeping Beauty, is due Fall 2002. She lives in Norfolk CT with her husband, Mahlon F. Craft.

The Art of Kinuko Y. Craft

Photo furnished

Excerpts from the interview (conducted by Karen Haber):

‘‘I think you're born a dreamer, born an artist. I was captivated by my maternal grandfather's art books. He was a calligrapher – among many other skills, a real Renaissance man – and he shared his art library with me. Those were my childhood books. Art of the world. They made a big impression, more than anything else, and gave me a sense of direction.

''I choose my jobs by instinct, by my reaction to the theme or manuscript. It must have a welcoming sensibility. The writer's sensibility must meet me half way. There must be room for my imagination, for my heart. I can't just be a hired hand. If something is not right, if I read the story and it's like a blank, then I know I can't do it. If the story is so offensive or alien, or too much for my psyche to take, I will know long beforehand, even before I can take on the research.

''Stories have a color, a certain smell and taste. I have to spend time with that, inhabit it, taste it, know it. I want to bring out my fantasy about that flavor.’’


‘‘My mission is, I really feel, to tell my version of the story. To show my reaction to it. That's why I spend so much time on it. The more time I put in, the more something lives in the image. I actually live in the book while I work. I function much like an actor taking on a role. The outside world fades away. It can be a real problem, especially when we run low on food during an ice storm, and I've just spent twelve hours in my studio. But I think I've been in a fantasy world all my life.’’


‘‘For me, picture books are not children's books. Though they are called 'children's books,' I create the images mainly for me, both the mature woman and the child within myself. I believe we are always young inside and psychologically never grow old and worn out, from birth to death. My paintings let me live in a world of my own imagination and fantasy. This really applies to everything I do. Fortunately, I have a wonderful publisher who allows me the freedom to express myself completely to my own satisfaction.’’

The full interview and biographical profile is published in the August 2002 issue of Locus Magazine.


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