My Friend Eric Rohmann

The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature (NCCIL) opened My Friend Eric Rohmann, featuring original art from Caldecott Award winning artist Eric Rohmann, in the fall of 2014.  This exhibition includes sixty-seven illustrations done in media including oil, watercolor, and relief print. In addition, this retrospective features artwork from Rohmann's first book, Time Flies, to his most recent, Oh, No!

Rohmann attended Illinois State University where he earned a bachelor's degree in art and then a master's degree in studio art. Rohmann earned another master's degree in printmaking and fine bookmaking from Arizona State University. Before becoming a children's book illustrator, Rohmann tried his hand at several odd jobs- at a zoo, as a waiter, and as a teacher of visual arts. These experiences later came in handy as an illustrator. In fact, during one stretch of unemployment, Rohmann developed a wordless picture book about the mysterious journey of bird that flies back to the time of the dinosaurs. This first book, Time Flies, won a Caldecott Honor in 1995. Additionally, in 2003, Rohmann's bold, relief-print illustrations for My Friend Rabbit earned him the Caldecott Medal. My Friend Rabbit would later go on to become an animated television series on NBC.

Rohmann believes that each story needs illustrations that match its tone, content, and sensibility. As a children's book illustrator, this means knowing how and when to use different types media and techniques. For example, in The Cinder-Eyed Cats, Rohmann painted with oil yet for his Caldecott Medal book, My Friend Rabbit, he used woodcuts. Moreover, for Rohmann’s 2008 picture book, A Kitten's Tale, he spent two months experimenting with watercolor ink that he had never used before. Trying new media can be scary, Rohmann admits, but it also keeps his artwork fresh. "Anxiety's a good thing," he says, "even for a children's book illustrator".