Featured CWILLer: Kari Rust

Here’s the next in our series of profiles on CWILL members.

Hi, Kari! Please give us your quick bio.
I live in an old house in Vancouver with my two kids, husband and dog. I studied animation at Emily Carr and worked in the animation industry for many years before having a family and finding my way to making books. I have also taught art to kids of all ages and I have taught animation and drawing at post secondary institutions in BC and Washington state. These days, in addition to drawing and cobbling up stories, I mentor students at Vancouver Film School.

How long have you been a member of CWILL?
I’ve been with CWILL since my first picture book, Tricky, was published in 2017. I am currently co-vice-president on the CWILL executive.

Tell us a little about yourself. What led you to writing and/or illustrating for children? Was it a lifelong passion? Something you discovered later on in life?
Writing and illustrating for kids was both a lifelong interest and something that I discovered later in life. I worked as an animation artist after graduating from Emily Carr in 1993 and did so until I had my son in 2006. Once I had a family, the animation industry didn’t fit well into my life, and at the same time I was reading piles of children’s books (picture books are a form I literature I have always loved). The similarities between picture books and animation made creating books for kids seem like a perfect fit for me, so I took some classes at Emily Carr and that helped launch me into this new chapter of work. 

Tell us about your latest publication. 
The latest book that I illustrated just came out (April 15, 2022). It’s called The Weird Sisters: A Note, a Goat, and a Casserole, written by Mark David Smith and published by Owlkids Books. This was the first time I had worked on a children’s chapter book. It is a fun story with fun characters and lots of humour. I got to exercise my cartoon muscles with the witch cast because of their distinctive personalities and descriptions.

What are you currently working on? Anything you can share with us?
I have some of my own stories in development right now, and I am just wrapping up final artwork for the second Weird Sisters book.

Do you do school or library visits? Tell us a little bit about what teachers, librarians, and kids can expect during one of your visits. Feel free to link to your website, or photos/videos of past presentations.
I enjoy doing school or library visits (or school library visits!). Usually, I will read a book, talk about how I came up with the story and how I make the illustrations. If there is technology available to do so, I can show some process images that demonstrate how the drawings develop.

Tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself.
I never met him, but one of my grandfathers was a ventriloquist.

Recommendations: What do you Love?
I love the picture books of Ezra Jack Keats for the day-in-the-life quality that they have as well as their playful, inventive, well-observed art. Over the past few years, my family and I have been listening to books by Christopher Paul Curtis—they are exquisitely written and delightfully well read in audio format. Our favourite of these was Bud, Not Buddy. Most days, a good graphic novel is my first choice for reading. I love movies but I’m always at a loss to think of any to highlight. I love both coffee and tea.

If you could be one character from a children’s book, who would you choose and why?
It would be interesting to be Mathilde (from Mathilde, by Roald Dahl) because of her brilliant mind and her mind powers that she used for good. She was also a fast and prolific reader unlike me—I am a slow reader, so I can’t get through as many books as I would like to.

If you could go live in one children’s book, where would you choose and why?
I would like to go live in The Secret Garden. I always felt drawn to that hidden, forgotten place and its tangled beauty.

What’s one piece of advice you want to share with young writers and aspiring authors or illustrators?
Artists and writers are all kinds of people, each one with a different perspective and voice. Follow your curiosity—subjects for stories are all around you and the work is in paying attention, thinking, revising, waiting, connecting dots and keeping at it.

Where can people find you online?

My website: www.karirust.com

Instagram: @rustikar

CWILL: www.cwillbc.org

About Lee Edward Fodi

I’m a children’s author, illustrator, and specialized arts educator—or, as I like to think of myself, a daydreaming expert. I'm the author of the Kendra Kandlestar series, The Books of Zoone, and Spell Sweeper. During my free time, I'm a traveler, adventurer, and maker of dragon eggs. I live in Vancouver with my wife and son.
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