Friend Friday

What a treat to host Robert Pizzo today in celebration of his newest books, Let’s Fix Up the House and Let’s Fix Up the Yard (Schiffer Publishing). As a grandma to a granddaughter who was obsessed with machines and tools, I think Robert is on to something here! I would’ve loved to have something so vivid and engaging to share with her when she was a toddler. And, honestly, these books are launching at a perfect time, when so many of us are doing exactly what the titles of Rob’s books suggest!

Robert Pizzo

My two new children’s board books are, Let’s Fix Up The House and Let’s Fix Up the Yard published by Schiffer Publishing. The books are a series of illustrated tasks depicting a dozen scenes of home renovation from demolition to clean up, all done in a unique, simple, fun infographic style.

Each book is probably something young parents can relate to because it’s about the time your toddler starts walking that you realize you are going to need more room. At that time, many parents begin looking for a starter home. It’s also the time you start becoming handy tackling all the projects that need to be done.

For me, these books are a true story. I’ve been renovating my house and yard for decades, finding how rewarding it is to first “demo” and then completely rebuild something. I find there’s a real overlap between creating for art and creating for building. It’s something children seem to notice, too. A few months ago I was in Home Depot and it was crowded with a kids event. Dozens of children were wearing little work aprons and caps as they nailed pieces of wood together for a project they could take home. They were having a blast. When my own kids were really little they often watched me renovating from their cribs!

Creating, for me, is something that I just have to do. I once created a series of giant wooden gears that I finished to look like metal and hung in my house. I just got the idea and knew that I’d like to create them, without even knowing at the time what I’d do with them. So, it’s a natural for me to do a board book about working with your hands to fix things up, especially today with such a big public interest in renovation.

Though I had done a few children’s books and products before, these two kind of evolved from my Industrial Strength Coloring Book published a couple of years ago by Quill Driver.

My agent, Anna Olswanger suggested I do a coloring book but I jokingly told her, “all the ones I looked at were of flowers and teacups. What could I possibly do? Industrial gears and tools?”

She replied, “That’s a great idea.” I ended up doing the book in the style of the infographics I had been doing for advertising agency work.

Afterwards, we realized the simple iconic visual style would translate well to children’s board books as well. I discussed it with my wife and she said it could be like a “to-do list.” Once I heard that I knew how I was going to do it.

It’s funny that the same simple infographics are suitable for both board book illustrations as well as ad agency data but if you think about it, the mission is the same: to break information down to its simplest, easiest to understand elements.

I started by making my own “to-do” list of all the tasks I wanted to depict, then narrowing the list down to the 12 that I thought would make the most compelling illustrations. After that, working on it was similar to working on the thousands of illustration assignments I’ve done over the years. It’s a matter of taking the text and translating that to a bold, bright, and colorful graphic.

I’m very excited that these books are published and available now. Have a look!

Robert Pizzo began his professional career as the assistant to legendary comics artist (and pioneer of the graphic novel) Will Eisner.
He has produced literally thousands of bold and colorful graphic illustrations for the nation’s top magazines, newspapers, book publishers, ad agencies and corporations. His clients have included Citibank, McCann, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Mastercard, and The Wall Street Journal, where he’s been a regular contributor. He has an entire studio wall full of prestigious design awards from the likes of Print, Graphis, Society of Publication Designers, Society of Newspaper Designers, etc. (OK, technically they’re in a couple of boxes in the basement at the moment but you get the idea.)
He is the author/illustrator of The Amazing Animal Alphabet of 26 Tongue Twisters, and all of its spin off products including puzzles, calendars, coloring books, flash cards, and sticker books published by Pomegranate. He is also the author/illustrator of Robert Pizzo’s Industrial Strength Coloring Book published by Quill Driver.
Robert and his wife Susan are the proud parents of three wonderful daughters. They’ve been fixing up their own houses and yards for years. To learn more visit his NEW site or visit his Instagram feed.