Famous author and illustrator offers advice and humor
Friday, November 16, 2012
But during a visit to Lesley University, Brown dazzled the audience with humor, humility and sincere advice about his long journey of odd jobs and rejections before finally realizing his dream as an illustrator.
Brown drew hundreds of fans to Lesley for his talk as part of the Strauch-Mosse Visiting Artists Lecture series, held Thursday evening in Washburn Auditorium on Lesley’s Brattle Campus, where he told his life story and received a resounding standing ovation.
“Have a goal and figure out what you love, because what you do echoes in eternity,” Brown told the audience. “And do not give up. … You have to make it happen. You have to let people know you exist, and that you’re a hell of a lot of fun - even if you’re not,” he said with a smile.
Brown, who received an honorary doctorate from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley in 2009, paid tribute to his many influences, including his grandmother and great-grandmother who were master storytellers, and his high school art teacher. He posted a picture of his third grade class from his school in Pennsylvania in the 1950s, and explained how his classmates, teachers and others influenced the characters in “Arthur.”
“Nobody is safe,” he exclaimed. “Be present. Keep your eyes and ears open because the very best things happen in real life. I find stories around me every day.”
He spoke on a range of topics, poking fun at celebrity authors and calling for teachers to be paid fairly. He described his illustration techniques, and said he receives 50,000 letters a year - and responds to all of them.
The audience included many students from Lesley as well as community members and some children with their parents. Following the lecture, Lesley hosted a reception where Brown greeted his fans and took time to sign autographs and stuffed animals, and impart advice.
The "Arthur" PBS series has won Emmy and Peabody Awards and is broadcast in 80 countries around the world. Brown is also the author and illustrator of more than 100 picture books for children.
“I like to entertain while I educate,” he told the audience.
Lesley University President Joseph B. Moore and Art Institute of Boston Dean Stan Trecker welcomed the large audience to the lecture. Student Chelsea Osgood, who is studying illustration at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley, introduced Brown.
“He gives hope to aspiring illustrators such as myself and many others,” said Osgood. “And most importantly, he has taught me how to spell the word aardvark,” she said, prompting laughter from the audience.
Brown and his wife, Laurie Krasny Brown, live between New York and their farm on Martha’s Vineyard, where they care for many animals, including a blind pony and a goat named Hillary Clinton.
The Strauch-Mosse Visiting Artist Lecture series is funded in part by the Strauch-Mosse Endowed Fund for Visiting Artists and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Lesley University trustee Hans D. Strauch, who attended Brown’s lecture, established the Strauch-Mosse fund in 2008 with a $1 million gift as part of Lesley University’s Centennial year celebration.
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