Illustration faculty member publishes “Eclipse” children’s book
When Andy Rash, associate professor of illustration at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), viewed the 2017 total solar eclipse with his son, he did not set out to write a book about the experience. But for years afterward, his family could not stop talking about the eclipse. Rash channeled that excitement into his newest picture book, “Eclipse,” which he published in September 2023.
Earning a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, “Eclipse” follows Rash and his seven-year-old son as they travel to view the total solar eclipse on the path of totality. “We wanted to see a real eclipse. It wasn’t like we planned a trip so I could write a book about it, it was the other way around. We just never stopped talking about the trip!” explains Rash.
As the author and illustrator of many other children’s books, Rash often visits schools, libraries and bookstores to talk to kids and promote his books. Usually, he leads drawing demonstrations or teaches his audience how to draw his characters. This time, he stuck to interactive science demonstrations explaining how scientists calculate when future eclipses will take place. “Normally I would be doing a bunch of drawing demonstrations of silly, wild characters. I didn’t really want to draw myself or my son over and over,” he laughs. Rash even presented a program for kids at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. as part of his book tour.
Since the next total solar eclipse will take place April 8, 2024, Rash will spend the next six months promoting “Eclipse” in the hopes that more people witness this unique phenomenon. “The reason I wrote the book is to try to encourage people to experience [the eclipse] if they can. It really was a stunning experience for me before. We’re certainly planning on going again,” he says.
Rash uses his industry experience in children’s book publishing to teach a picture book elective class each year. “My professional experience has formed that class,” he explains. “What you end up with is a book project that has been sketched throughout, has several spreads of finished work, you have a cover letter, we talk about contracts and agents… you have everything at the end of that course to be ready to pitch your book.” A seasoned industry professional, Rash uses his passion for children’s book writing and illustration to enrich the lives of MIAD students. “Knowing that I might have an opportunity to run a class like that [at MIAD] is the reason that I came to teach here. It’s a really important class to me … Teaching here, looking at the incredible craft that comes from the students in each assignment, it really feeds my creativity and it makes me feel like I’ve got to keep my game up! There’s a lot of good work coming out of here.”
“Eclipse” is on view in the MIAD’s Brooks Stevens Gallery “Here & Now: Work from MIAD Faculty” exhibition. Keep up with Rash on his website, explore media coverage about “Eclipse” from Milwaukee’s NPR and TMJ4 and learn more about MIAD’s Illustration major!
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