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Cabarrus Magazine

Local Illustrator Visits Cabarrus County Libraries, Inspires Others to get Creative

Jun 06, 2018 07:57PM ● By Melanie Heisinger
Gordon C. James is a Charlotte-based artist and illustrator that is all about enjoying the process. He recently toured the Cabarrus County Library System in which he hosted a reading of the most recent book he illustrated by author Derrick Barnes, “Crown an Ode to the Fresh Cut."  After reading, he lead the attendees in creating their very own book pages. 

"I love working with the kids and meeting the librarians," James told us of the experience. "[When they create their own pages] I'll give the kids a prompt on a strip of paper like, “I jumped from planet to planet” or “My dad is so strong he could lift a house!” Then we illustrate the words. Each child goes home with their own book page. It’s a lot of fun."

Since sixth grade, James has wanted to be an artist. "I honestly can’t remember when I wanted to do anything else," he told us.

It was his love of creating art that led him down the path of becoming an illustrator. He has contributed works of art to a variety of resources, particularly for Hallmark. At Hallmark, he assisted in creating greeting cards. 

James has also illustrated six other books including the “Scraps of Time” series with author Patricia McKissack. "It’s enjoyable for me to do anything that allows me convey feeling and emotion," James said. 

Oftentimes, when commissioned to illustrate for an author's book, he doesn't get to meet the author. However, James knew author Derrick Barnes from his time working at Hallmark about 18 years prior. Though they had never worked directly together, it made for a pleasantly different experience for James. He noted that he was given the chance to include people he knew as character inspirations in the book. The barber in the book is Mr. Reggie, James' son's barber and owner of Heads Up Barber Shop on the Plaza in Charlotte. Also, Barnes’ son is the main character, and James' daughter is in the book as well. It was the ability to include people he knows and loves in the book that really struck him.

When it comes to aspiring future artists, James has one main recommendation -- "Draw. Draw. Draw. Just do art."

He also says to be disciplined, "No one but you will know if you slack off so you can't short change yourself."

The future holds a lot of possibility for James, where he notes he has quite a few things in the works. One thing he noted he would like to see is his work in a major museum collection. He's also gearing up to try his own hand at writing and illustrating a children’s book.

"My major and continuing goal is to continue to bring my best, most beautiful work possible to kids through my books."

Follow Gordon C. James on Facebook to keep up with his latest endeavors.

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