Alumnus Spotlight: Tomie dePaola

When he was four years old, Tomie dePaola wanted to become a writer, an illustrator, and a tap dancer. In his long and varied career, dePaola has done all of that and more. He is a prolific author of some two hundred children's books, including the Caldecott Honor Award–winning Strega Nona. He still works seven days a week.

Why children's books? DePaola says the books he had as a child were the only place—besides the world of Walt Disney—where he saw artwork. Art was not in his school curriculum, and there were no museums in Meriden. Today, he is proud that his books touch the hearts of thousands of people.

It's clear that CCA has left its own mark on dePaola's heart. A protégé of Wolfgang Lederer, dePaola credits Lederer with giving him the freedom to express himself in a noncommercial way, and for setting up a tutorial at Tamalpais Press where dePaola set type one day a week.

DePaola recalls Lederer saying, "I can't teach you a thing about illustration, but I can teach you about type and design of books." The two remained friends up until Lederer's death this year. "CCA refined my work and is totally responsible for my success," dePaola says.

From Glance, 2003

Born 1934, Meriden, CT

CCA degree:MFA 1969, illustration

Other education:BFA 1956, Illustration, Pratt Institute; graduate studies, Lone Mountain College

Residence:New London, NH

Current occupation:Artist, author, designer, speaker