James E. Ransome is an illustrator who is primarily known for children's picture book illustrations. Born in North Carolina, Ransome had little to no exposure to the arts, as there were no art classes or museums nearby. He still drew inspiration from such disparate sources as his grandmother's bible and Mad Magazine. He drew on his own, and was mostly self taught until he began high school in New Jersey, where he took his first classes in photography and film.
He went on to study illustration at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Art, in Brooklyn, New York.
Here is what James tells of his experience there:
I went on to earn my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. It was in art history classes at Pratt that I
discovered artists such as Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Edgar Degas and Joaquin Sorollla, all of whom have had a major influence on my style of painting. It was also at Pratt that I first met an African-American illustrator, Jerry Pinkney.
I had always been given the impression that there were virtually no African-American artists, so meeting Jerry Pinkney and discovering his large body of work was very encouraging.
Jerry lectured and later taught a senior illustration class that I would occasionally attend as a junior. I reconnected with Jerry after graduating from college and he has since become a mentor and friend. (from his website)
A member of the Society of Illustrators, he is now an Associate Professor at Syracuse University and the Graduate Program Coordinator of Illustration there. He has illustrated over fifty books. He is known for his signature style of using oil paint as a medium to create his illustrations, but combines other media as well. His forthcoming book Game Changers, about Venus and Serena Williams, primarily uses collage. No matter the media, Ransome gives young readers books to cherish, with subjects rendered with dignity and adept skill. He often collaborates with his wife, Lesa Cline-Ransome, who is a children's book author. Their books created together are well received critically, and are among some of his best examples of his excellent illustration.
"Award winning illustrator James Ransome demos how he builds a drawing for a children's book illustration using tracing paper and a copy machine for his upcoming book, My Name is Truth: A biography of Sojourner Truth (HarperCollins)." From James E. Ransome's YouTube Channel.
His major awards include one Coretta Scott King Award for "Uncle Jed's Barbershop," a Coretta Scott King Honor for "The Creation" and "Before She Was Harriet:The Story of Harriet Tubman," and an NAACP Image Award for the book "Let My People Go." "Before She Was Harriet:The Story of Harriet Tubman" was also nominated for a 2017 NAACP Image award.
To learn more about James E. Ransome, please visit his website here.