Suse MacDonald

As a child, Suse loved to draw and imagine. When she began college, she knew art would be a focus in her life. As a fine arts major, she took life drawing, painting, printmaking, and ceramics. She even made sculptures out of car parts. However, nothing felt quite right. She loved doing art, but where did she fit in the art world?

After college, she got a job in a large New York studio illustrating science text books. The studio had thirty artists, photographers, draftsmen, and even typesetters (This was before computers). She learned about and became fascinated by the commercial side of art.
Five years later, Suse and her husband Stuart moved to Vermont to operate a construction company. The move came at a time when Suse was feeling a lack of growth in her work. She had illustrated all kinds of science books and needed new challenges. So she was enthusiastic about the move and the new business. She did office work, architectural design and drafting.

After ten years, she decided to return to illustration. She attended two Boston art schools: the New England School of Art and Design and the Art Institute. While in school, her focus shifted and her work became less realistic and bolder and more colorful. It began to look like it belonged in a children’s picture book. As her studies progressed, she became more and more attracted to that genre. She started to get ideas for books. A newspaper article about the two spiders NASA sent into space to see if they could spin webs in a weightless environment provided the idea for her first children’s story. However Space Spinners wasn’t published until 1990 when Suse had four other books in print.

A typography course was the catalyst for her first published book. The assignment was to turn a letter of the alphabet into a representation of something. Suse turned an A into an owl. Afterwards she thought, if I can turn an A into an owl, why not turn A into something that begins with A? This idea led to her first book Alphabatics, which won a Caldecott Honor presented by the American Library Association and The Golden Kite Award presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers. Receiving these awards jump-started Suse’s career.
Since 1986 Suse has written and or illustrated fifteen books. She and her husband now live in Colorado.

She loves the process of writing and illustrating children’s books. A great pleasure for her is in encouraging readers to go beyond their usual stopping points and make their own artistic discoveries. Children are inventors. They just need situations that bring out that quality of inventiveness. In her books she creates those opportunities.

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