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Illustrating in Real Life

with Award-Winning Author/Illustrator Don Tate

Award-winning author/illustrator Don Tate provides an inside view of the life of an author/illustrator. Don shares how he got his start, courses that helped him improve his craft and catapult his career, and his best advice for authors and illustrators today.

In this webinar, you will learn:

  • How to find the "story" in picture book biographies, both in terms of writing and illustrating.
  • Tips for working on the road for school visits and signings,
  • Resources for illustrators who want to learn to write and for anyone who wants to learn to illustrate.
  • The different challenges of illustrating someone else's words vs. your own.
  • How to portray people of a different race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or culture from your own in an authentic, respectful way.
  • How to keep going, even when you want to quit.


Your Instructor


Don Tate
Don Tate

Don Tate is an award-winning author and the illustrator of numerous critically acclaimed books for children.

Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton, written and illustrated by Don Tate, published in September of 2015. It received starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly, as well as being selected as a Kirkus Best Children’s Books List Selection, 2015, and an ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2016.

In 2016, it received an Ezra Jack Keats Book Award, The Christopher Award, a Texas Institute of Letters Literary Award, a Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and an SCBWI Crystal Kite Award. (see complete list of Poet awards)

It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, (Lee & Low Books, 2012)(ages 4-up) marks his debut as an author. It Jes’ Happened is a Lee & Low New Voices Honor winner, and an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor winner, 2012. It received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and School Library Journal, as well as being selected as a Kirkus Best Children’s Books List Selection, a Booklist Editors’ Choice, 2012, and a New York Public Library Top 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing, and more! Also honored as a Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2012.

The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans Publishing, April, 2015), written by Chris Barton has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and Booklist.

The Cart That Carried Martin (Charlesbridge, Nov. 2013), written by Eve Bunting, is a Junior Library Guild Selection and a North Carolina Book Award nominee, 2016.

Hope’s Gift (Putnam Juvenile, 2012), written by Kelly Starling Lyons, is a Winter/Spring Okra Pick by Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA).

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite (Charlesbridge, 2011), written by Anna Harwell Celenza, has been recognized in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times holiday guides.

She Loved Baseball: The Effa Manley Story (HarperCollins, 2010), written by Audrey Vernick, is a Junior Library Guild selection. School Library Journal said, Both author and illustrator are on top of their games as they bring this inspiring story to life.” She Loved Baseball was honored by the Bank Street College of Education as a Best Children’s Books of the Year.

Ron’s Big Mission (Dutton, 2009), written by Rose Blue and Corrine Naden, is a Junior Library Guild spring 2009 selection. School Library Journal said, “…Vibrant illustrations portray a cozy small town where rules are obeyed, mostly without thinking. Tate’s figures feature oversized heads with very expressive faces that vividly convey well-meant kindness and the frustrations of injustice.”

Summer Sun Risin’ (Lee & Low Books, 2002) was honored by the Bank Street College of Education as “Best Children’s Books of the Year for 2002.” It also received a Children’s Crown Award, 2003 by the National Christian School Association Master List. Publisher’s Weekly says, “…the pictures will immediately engage readers.”

Don is also the illustrator of Say Hey: A Song of Willie Mays (Jump at the Sun, 2000). This book, the first trade picture book of his career was praised by Publisher’s Weekly, who said, “…Tate’s sharp-edged pictures boast vivid, sparkling colors and a vibrant immediacy, ideal for the subject.” It was also named a Child Magazine suggested title.

His other trade picture books include, Black All Around! (Lee & Low Books); The Hidden Feast (August House, 2006); The Legend of the Valentine(Zondervan, 2002), which is a Christian Bookseller’s Association best seller.

Don has been a featured illustrator/speaker/exhibitor at various literary festivals, including the Texas Book Festival; San Antonio Book Festival; The Savannah Children’s Book Festival, The Dallas Children’s Book and Literary Festival, Bookamania, and such conferences as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); American Association of School Librarians (AASL); National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS); The International Reading Association; Texas Library Association Black Caucus Roundtable, The National Alliance of Black School Educators. He speaks at schools, college/universities, public libraries and writing conferences, including the Vermont College of Fine Arts; Texas Writer’s League; Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators; Pathways to Literacy Conferences(International Institute of Literacy Learning). Hope’s Gift, a book that Don illustrated, was featured at the Pavillion of the States at the 2013 National Book Festival.

Articles about or quoting Don, or his books, have been featured in The New York Times Children’s Book Review; Black Issues Book Review; School Library Journal Blog; The Writer’s Institute (upcoming); The Austin American-Statesman and Des Moines Register newspapers. Other outlets of note include highlights on Cynsations, Cynthia Leitich Smith’s children’s literary blog; African-American Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators; News Channel 8, Des Moines Iowa, Leading The Way TV segment. He was also featured on author Angela Medearis’ Angela’s Notebook, a 30-minute children’s television program featuring award-winning children’s book authors and illustrators.

In addition to children’s books, Don also licenses his art to product manufacturers. KIDZ is a line of juvenile bed and bathroom products that includeswallpaper, light switches, wall art and drawer knobs. He also has a line of children’s textile/fabric available at specialty fabric shops, which feature his designs.My Peepz, a group of African American characters, is marketed to ‘tweeners and has been a hit in the calendar market.

Don earned an AAA degree from Des Moines Area Community College. He has worked as a graphics reporter at the Des Moines Register and Austin American-Statesman newspapers, and as a publication designer for the Perfection Learning Corporation, an educational publishing company. In addition, he was the art director at an advertising and market research firm, and a graphic artist at a print shop. He also flipped burgers in high school and swept floors at the mall.

A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Don currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife and son. In his spare time, Don is a gym-rat, having competed (in better fit days) in natural, drug-free bodybuilding.


Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.

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