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AMAZING MAKER | J. Otto Seibold

Today, in children's book illustration, one can find a healthy mix of original artwork done in traditional mediums like colored pencil, watercolor and pastel. Just as common are books digitally illustrated with Adobe Illustrator and like tools. But, in 1990's this was not the case. Digital art featured in advertising and media had not crossed over to children's books. That is not until J. Otto Seibold.

J. Otto Seibold, a self taught Bay Area born artist, had become an expert in creating digital art while working as a creative for major Bay Area brands. writes, "High school drafting classes led to work after graduation with big corporations in the area. He was working for Clorox when he first got the idea to try illustrating for a living. His first solo design-and-illustration work was that year's company Christmas calendar."

It was after meeting his friend turned wife, Vivian Walsh and feeling the excitement of becoming a first time parent that he had the idea to write a children's book. Their Jack Russel, Dexter Lunch, served as the main character for Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride and follow up book, Mr. Lunch Borrows a Canoe (See product links below). Mr. Lunch Takes a Plane Ride was the first children's book to ever be illustrated digitally and went on to win a Cuffie Award from Publisher's Weekly for most memorable character in a lead role.

He has gone on to publish countless children's books over his 20+ year career. Some of these works were collaborations with Walsh, with him serving as illustrator and her, as author. He has illustrated memorable characters like Count Dagmar the vampire (co-created by Siobhan Vivian), Quincy, Mr. Wolf (co-created with Judy Sierra), Seamore the Porpoise, and Sloth to name a few. Olive the dog (inspired by his other Jack Russel) and her tale of becoming a Christmas reindeer went on to become the base for an Emmy nominated Christmas special of the same nane, Olive the Other Reindeer. The special was produced by Matt Groening, with Drew Barrymore voicing the title character.

In addition to creating new characters, he joins forces with children's classics like Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland with amazing results. With all of his books, J. Otto's artwork is very distinct. He creates very unique shapes and figures made within the cleanliness of digitally produced lines.

Colin Talcroft writes about Seibold's work best in a post from January 13, 2015, "What is extraordinary about his style, however, is the way he achieves a warmth not usually associated with computer-generated imagery. His drawings maintain a very human quality. They don't have a distracting digital look. Despite the early software, they don't look at all crude. They require no apologies whatsoever. His illustrations are distinctive and simply delightful--immediately appealing but also peppered with funny, quirky details that make them a pleasure to pore over."

A pleasure indeed.

For the latest news on J. Otto, you can check his website HERE and other links below.


"What's in front of me is always a force. I believe in the present moment."

- J. Otto Seibold

Happy Making.



Name: J. Otto Seibold

Known for: Childrens Book Illustration

Born: 1960 - Oakland, CA

Nationality: American

Residence: Oakland, CA

Education: Self taught

Movements: Digital Illustration - 1990s

Married: Vivian Walsh (seperated)

Children: Three

Associations: Digital Illustration, Outsider Artist

Exhibitions: Grass Hut - Portland (2008); Paule Anglim Gallery - San Francisco (2004); Deitch Projects - New York (2002), MASS MoCA (2001), Creative Time's 42nd Street Art Project - New York (1994), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (2000), Contemporary Jewish Museum (2014).

Related Makers:

Miroslav Sasek, Margaret and H. A. Rey, Ludwig Bemelman

More on J. Otto




Product Links - Sampling of J. Otto Books

* By purchasing through these product links on Amazon, you are supporting Make Studio Inc. at no cost to you. Thank you!



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