Dan Andreasen illustrates the Oliver + S paper dolls. We were able to speak with him recently about his background and some of his most enjoyable recent projects. (Part 1 of the interview can be found here.)
What do you like to illustrate most?
Right now I’m getting a kick out of illustrating my own stories. I like that a lot. After doing piles and piles of book jackets and picture books, I started writing my own stories. I’m working on my sixth book now to be published next year.
Do you have a favorite?
I do. It came out last year, and it’s called The Giant of Seville. It’s based loosely on a giant who moved to a small town and spent his life in the circus in the 1800s after the Civil War. His name was Martin Van Buren Bates. He weighed 525 pounds and was 7’ 11.5” tall. He married a woman who was a giant too. She was even a little taller than he was. The way I wrote the story, it’s fictional. It’s about someone who’s different and can fit into a community. I think it’s a neat book for kids.
How did you find out about these people?
I don’t remember how I found out about them originally. I must have stumbled across an article at the historical society. There are a couple plaques there now indicating that giants used to live there. In one of the shops they may have had a pair of his boots in a window case.
When my kids were younger, we used to drive through the town of Seville which is not too far from where we live. My son was in a car seat, and I told him that giants used to live here. His eyes would get as big as saucers, and he would look around like he expected to see giants today. I used to tell my kids about the giant couple who lived in this town, and I figured if they were that interested there was something there that I could write about.
My story is a fictionalized account of these real people’s lives. It’s a made up story the way I would make up stories to tell the kids. I’ve met some real sticklers for historical fact. It bugs them that I don’t tell the true story, but I had a story I wanted to tell. I used a little bit of historical fact and built a lot of fiction around it to allow me to tell the story of someone different and how he was accepted.
What do you like about the Oliver + S paper dolls you do?
I’ve enjoyed creating the paper dolls. I think it’s a clever and unique way to feature the patterns. And I think the retro look, in a strange way, is really fresh.