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Gaia Cornwall

About Me: I live in Providence, Rhode Island, with my husband (who is a programmer), our son (who is really into construction machinery), and daughter (who is really into chewing on things—she's a baby). We also have two cats who probably wish they lived by themselves. I can't remember a time when I wasn't drawing and when I didn't have strong opinions about picture books. I went to art school (Pratt Institute) and studied animation. After that, I did a bunch of mostly fun things (like producing a film festival, babysitting for wonderful families, animating cartoons for network television and film, and working on a documentary), but I'm so happy to now be illustrating and writing books for kids. About My Work: The story that became Jabari Jumps was originally inspired by the Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones. Among other things, he was the first African American to hold a world record in swimming! He now work with a cool program, Make a Splash, that teaches kids how to swim. My first character sketches of Jabari and his father were based on my cousin and his dad. Most of my pieces start with good ole pencil and paper, and are then finished digitally, often by collaging different elements together. I approach each project like an intricate puzzle made up of many ever-shifting pieces. It’s a trick to get all the moving parts to fit, but it’s a process I love. My work has been featured online, in interactive games, on assorted products, in films, as murals, and in various forms of print. Three Things You Didn't Know About Me: My mom helped me shave my head in high school. Before that, I had super long hair that I would put up in buns for ballet dancing. I have a disease called Crohn’s and have to give myself shots. I'll be honest: I hate doing it, but I'm getting pretty good. I am brave! I have gone swimming with whale sharks. It was awesome.

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