After starting his career in advertising, Eric found his true calling in picture books. His carefully crafted collages, constructed from sheets of tissue paper he paints himself, continue to captivate fellow artists, colleagues, and fans in equal measure. In his studio, Eric fills flat file drawers with painted papers organized by color that then become his palette, from which he tears or cuts the forms that make up his pictures. His focus on color and texture and form creates a distinct and recognizable aesthetic.
Before publishing both Panda Bear and Baby Bear, Carle's editor, Laura Godwin, visited him at his studio in Northampton, Massachusetts, where they reviewed Carle's illustrations, and she took the wonderful pictures below. She recently asked Carle to expand on one of his signature design elements: his use of 'white space.'
Laura Godwin: You’ve been known to say “don’t be afraid of white space”—how does this philosophy manifest in the Bear Books?
Eric Carle: My aim in design is to simplify and refine, be logical and be harmonious. One of the important elements in this concept is the use of white or “negative” space. These uncluttered areas support and enhance the image. In the Bear books, the bright, colorful animals “pop” more with the white background. But in Panda Bear you might notice I included painted backgrounds behind the animals. I did this for two reasons. I wanted to place the animals in their own environment and felt the painted backgrounds would provide a sense of the natural surroundings where these endangered animals live. I also wanted a unifying effect throughout the book that connected the individual pictures. I think adding the backgrounds helps to achieve this sense of continuity.
Eric Carle with the collage for Panda Bear
Sequencing the Layout for Baby Bear
Eric Carle with his editor, Laura Godwin
Blue Heron Stencil from Baby Bear
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