Ian Falconer

Ian Falconer

From 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 twenty fourth 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.


Books by this author

OLIVIA IS A PIGLET WITH boundless energy. She plays on the beach, visits art galleries, daydreams of being a ballerina, creates works of art on her wall and thoroughly exhausts her parents!

This charming book is filled with beautiful and quirky illustrations, which bring Olivia’s sweet character to life. Every reader will want to take Olivia home with them.

Recommended for Age 3+