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Robert Sabuda

As a child

I grew up in the small rural town of Pinckney, in south-eastern Michigan in America. Every night in our humble home by the lake, my mother would read a story to my older brother and me (later to be joined by a sister) before we went to bed. With the ability to hold a crayon came the discovery that I was an artist. I spent hours, days and weeks drawing, painting, cutting and gluing. My bedroom was a constant whirlwind of pencil shavings, drippy paintbrushes and mounds of paper scraps. My mother’s pleas of “when are you going to clean up this mess?!” went unanswered. At school my teachers asked me to create their bulletin boards because they knew how much I loved art. This was the first time I discovered that paper could be used for more than just drawing and painting on. My best discovery was when I folded together many pieces of paper, stapled them down the middle and created a book. I immediately began making books of all sizes filled with simple stories and happy pictures. This was when my fascination with pop-up books and paper engineering was born.

As an adult

Today I work in my studio in New York City, which I share with my partner, children’s book creator Matthew Reinhart. We love making books. It’s hard work, but the best part is not having to worry about making a mess. When being an artist is your job, you can make as many messes as you want to!

As an artist

After I graduated from Pratt I went from one children’s publishing house to another, showing my work and trying to get an illustrating project. To make money to support myself, I worked as a package designer creating the boxes for ladies underpants and bras! Finally I began to receive very small jobs illustrating colouring books (based on popular movie characters like Rambo!). Eventually these jobs led to other book projects and slowly I discovered that I was a children’s book illustrator. I began to write my own stories and illustrate those as well. Picture books were wonderful but I always hoped that one day I could create a pop-up book too. So I pulled out my old pop-up books and taught myself how to make even better ones as a grown-up.

Things you didn't know about Robert Sabuda

  1. He loves to read comic books.
  2. He doesn’t know how to drive a car.
  3. He’ll eat almost anything chocolate.
  4. He hates olives.
  5. He loves to sleep.
  6. He does yoga – poorly.
  7. His favourite television show is The Simpsons because it reminds him of his own family.
  8. He doesn’t have a favourite colour.
  9. Winter is his favourite season.
  10. His favourite movie is The Wizard of Oz and he still cries when Toto escapes from the Wicked Witch’s castle.

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