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Craig Smith

Illustrator

Craig Smith’s warm, quirky illustrations have amused kids for more than three decades. With over 360 books to his credit, the humor and pathos of home and school life, and a fondness for unusual perspectives are features of his work.

What other jobs have you had?

Other jobs include fruit picking, rust-scraper (on the Sydney Harbor Bridge), geriatric nurse, advertising illustrator, TV animator (killed my interest in the form) and teacher. I’ve also worked as a dad (unpaid).

What themes are recurring in your work?

I try to evoke an Australian childhood. A childhood lived in an Australian landscape – usually a suburb! I want to arm children with a sense of humour, of imagination, and of empathy.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Perhaps those few awards early in a career that are such a real encouragement. So, for instance: The NSW Premiers Literary Award 1982 (Whistle Up a Chimney by Nan Hunt). The Children’s Choice Award listings (when they occasionally happen) are also a buzz.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about children learning to think critically and with real curiosity.

Testimonials

Thank you so much for your assistance in helping us book Craig Smith for our Book Week event.
Craig was an excellent choice. He presented to 5 levels in the one day and tailored his presentations to suit each age group. He was easy to work with and had a lovely manner with the students. They were enthralled watching him create an illustration and were so excited to be able to create their own illustrations under his expert guidance.
The choice of an illustrator for our Book Week celebrations was a good one and I would highly recommend Craig to any school looking for an illustrator who can explain the creative process to students in an educational and thought provoking manner.

—M. Mitchell and S. Austin, Karoo Primary School, August 2016

Just a quick note about our Craig Smith visit earlier this year. Everyone loved his talk and drawings and the kids really enjoyed drawing along with him. The teachers were very enthused with the sessions too. Even when Craig hadn’t quite finished and the recess bell went the kids were happy to sit and finish their drawing session. Craig had a very easy going manner about him, was very happy to fit in with our sessions and talk with the staff as we told him about children who loved many of the books he had illustrated.

We have since framed three of his drawings, which look fantastic hanging in the library, and sent a buzz of excitement through the kids again as they talked about their sessions when he came and drew those pictures!

—J. Denning, Library Technician, Dawesville Catholic Primary School, December 2012

The response from the Teachers and Students was very positive. Some comments from the Year 6/7 Students:

“It was an amazing lesson and I love his artwork. I had a great time”

“When Craig Smith came over he was awesome. He was a happy chap who drew quickly and he taught us how to draw really well. At first when he did a drawing we thought it’s going to look very weird, but as he started to add things on we saw at the end that the drawing was very, very good. I think I want to be an illustrator when I grow up now. Everything he did was fantastic.”

“Last Wednesday we had an excellent time with Craig Smith a book illustrator. He taught us all excellent techniques to know when you are drawing. We were able to use our imagination and drawing skills to create a wonderful and funny picture. He was a very funny man. I had such a great time and loved the picture I drew. It was such a great opportunity.”

“Craig smith taught me how to draw. In his mere 1 hour class I learnt how shadows effect drawings and how effective the simplest of features can be. Also I learnt how playing with dimensions can be fun and interesting”

—P. Cawley, North Beach Primary School, September 2012

We had a great day on Monday with our visiting authors. The staff and student feedback was very positive and more importantly the books of the visiting authors are now in high demand from library. Naturally each author had their own style for presentation but all were considerate of the group before them and adjusted the talks accordingly. Craig stayed well past his allotted time and made some year three girls very happy – he also went out of his way to chat to one of our senior students which was very kind.

—R. Hirst, Lowther Hall, September 2012

John Willcock College recently hosted Craig Smith for two days as our Illustrator in Residence. Craig conducted workshops with approximately 180 students from Years 8 & 9, as well as an after-hours workshop for staff.

Craig mentioned that he is not accustomed to interacting with high school students, but he was able to engage his teenage audiences and keep them motivated and enthusiastic for 100 minutes at a time, which no mean feat with children aged 12 to 14. All art work produced by the students was of a very high standard, with students themselves often expressing surprise that they could actually draw so well. This, of course, was due to Craig’s guidance and encouragement.

On a recent parent evening, many students brought their parents to the Library specifically to look at their work and also Craig’s roughs, and it was clear from the parents’ comments that their children had spoken enthusiastically about the workshops at home.

Thank you for your assistance in bringing Craig to our school. We hope to be able to host another visit from Craig in the future.

—C. Smith, Librarian John Willcock College, August 2012

[W]e were absolutely thrilled with Craig Smith’s visit on Tuesday. He visited Swan Reach, where we had 2 sessions, with many small schools coming together for the sessions. He kept the children enthralled with his entertaining manner and the creation of his drawings. They were especially delighted with their ability to create their own characters in their own drawings. My grade then followed this up later with the ‘neat’ drawings. Please could you pass this on to Craig. It was terrific to meet him and I know the children were excited about meeting a famous illustrator. Feedback from parents has also indicated that children talked very positively about their experience at home with their parents. Some have popped into our school to have a look at the drawings displayed. All in all, Craig’s visit was a most educational and memorable experience. Thank you very much for recommending him to us.

—L. Kennedy, Swan Reach Primary School, February 2012

Craig spoke to the Year 3 and Year 4 students and he was very engaging.  The students responded well to him and were interested for the whole session.  The session went for 50 minutes, but certainly could have gone longer as the students were engrossed in the illustrating workshop that Craig was conducting. Craig passed on a positive message about making mistakes when illustrating – it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time you draw something.  Due to the fact that he modelled this for students, they were comfortable to “have-a-go” when it came to their time to draw in the workshop. I would recommend Craig for students in Year 3 and above.  Even the teachers found his session fascinating.

—M. Muse, Teacher-Librarian, Overnewton Anglican Community College,

We have used Craig before to present to our 3/4 grades on visual literacy and his material and approach were great. He didn’t do the same thing to each class but would use a different book or illustration- which kept an energy and freshness to his sessions.

—S. Allan, Balwyn Primary School, June 2017

All of our students from Kindergarten to Year 6 loved the workshops, listening to Craig and learning some techniques about drawing and the importance of how illustrations can bring a story alive.

—C. Deshon, St Joseph's Walgett. July 2017

Craig was, as always, fabulous in his enthusiastic presentation. There was heaps of variety in what he did and the students (ALL students) were interested, engaged and amazed by what he did. He was also genuinely happy and enjoyed working with and at all levels of our kids.

—P. Fayhey, Lightening Ridge Central School, July 2017.

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