Kadir Nelson Quotes

My purpose is to create a mirror for the reader to see themselves, to create a light for people to see themselves in the characters, pictures, and stories. So they resonate.

I think it’s important to have confidence, but then it’s also important to try to try something new, to leave your comfort zone to try to grow. That’s why I’m trying to grow as an artist and trying to figure out what kind of artist I want to be.

Be present in your work because kids live in the moment, so as soon as you’re not in the present, you’re not being authentic.

For me, each book is kind of like a silent film. If you were to remove the words and just look at the pictures, you should be able to tell what the story is about without having to read a word of text. That’s what I think I brought from doing artwork for film to doing artwork for books.

Much of the message that I try to put across to students is that they have to figure out what they really like to do and find a way to do that as an adult for their jobs. A lot of people have jobs they don’t like, and it makes for very unhappy people. So I tell them if you like to write, or run around, or dig in the dirt, then find a job that will allow you to do that, and you’ll be happy.

When I look at American history and I look at what history means to me, I look at it as if it were a string of stories. And if it’s told well enough and in a way that’s charming and warm and with wit and humor, then it takes a bit of the edge off of it. You can still tell the truth, but if you tell it very sweetly and very warmly, it makes it go down a bit easier.

I’m an artist by trade and an author by necessity.

What’s important about the artists we learn about in art history and see in all the art books is that they have somehow pushed the boundaries of what people think art is or should be, and that’s how they’ve made their work relevant. That’s what I’m trying to figure out for myself.

My uncle, who’s an art teacher, took me under his wing and gave me a really strong foundation in art. I spent summers with him, and he taught me how to draw, how to see, how to mix colors, how to use different mediums and perspective, and so forth.

As a kid, I drew cartoon characters and comic book heroes. Spiderman and the X-Men were my favorites.