Maxwell Eaton III '04 (Studio Art)
Maxwell Eaton III is an author and illustrator of numerous picture books and graphic novels for children, including The Truth About Hippos, The Truth About Bears, and The Flying Beaver Brothers graphic novel series. Max received his Bachelor’s degree in English and Fine Arts(Art & Art History) from St Lawrence University in 2004.
I've been writing and illustrating children's picture books and graphic novels for twelve or thirteen years now. I don't normally consider the quantity of books I've written, but I think the number, including work in progress, is pushing twenty, though each title has had its own challenges and rewards.
I started fairly soon after graduating from St. Lawrence. I had a job lined up at a ski area in Summit County, Colorado, but the season was a few weeks away and I decided on a whim to spend that time putting together a picture book about a boy and a pig. The book found a home as a three-book series with the publishing house that I ended up working with for years.
The artwork for my books has progessed from absurdly simple to slightly less than simple. Early on it was picture books for the very young, but then I moved into graphic novels for elementary school aged readers, which was a liberating experience. Close to a hundred pages to pace and pack with story. Now I'm back to picture books, and it's been wonderful. I think I needed to step away and fall in love with the format all over again. Also, my latest series is non-fiction, which has allowed me to directly include passions that had been outside of the scope of my earlier work. Each book is about a different species or family of animal. Bears, hippos, dolphins, and three more books scheduled for release in the next year. And, of course, there are other series in the works. You tend to work two to four years out, which once felt like an eternity but now rushes by. There might be something in there about getting older . . .
Looking back, St. Lawrence sent me into the world with a number of skills and values that I continue draw upon and develop. Aside from obvious lessons about physically creating art, my working relationships with a handful of professors is in many ways similar to my current collaborations with editors and designers. St. Lawrence also planted the seed of auto didacticism, which has both enhanced my career and the fullness or my life as a human being. In many ways, and especially at this very moment as I find myself eye-twitchingly deep in research on various animals, I feel as though little has changed since living at 58 Park Street. Although I certainly get more sleep.