John's presentation is ideal for grades K through 8. He adjusts the content to suit the ages of the audience, focusing on Dinosaur Train and other picture book material with the younger grades and chapter books and his graphic novel with the middle grades and above. With the older students John talks about writing and illustrating as a career as well as the publishing process.
LENGTH OF PROGRAMS
For assembly presentations, any size that fits in the room. But in general, the preference is to see the youngest students in smaller, more intimate groups.
Every illustration tells a story, but how? John's Power Point presentation relates both his technical process and, equally important, his thought process. He shares his experience as an author and an illustrator, and because John uses humor in his work, many of his slides are quite funny but don't tell the kids that, let it be a surprise. John picks volunteers from the audience to demonstrate how kids pose as models for his illustrations. He always closes with some live drawing, either a cartoon face or a caricature of someone from the audience, and whenever possible he likes to get all the audience members drawing along with him. The students get such a sense of accomplishment when they walk away carrying their own drawings.
John teaches a variety of fun cartoon workshops, suitable to ages K-8. A number of them are listed below, but what generally works best is to tell John the age and size of the group, the length of time available and he'll design the workshop around that. All the students need are basic pencil and paper. John needs an easel to draw on, and if possible (but not essential) a digital projector and a document camera.
Large Group Draw Along: John has a number of "Draw-Along" cartooning activities that work well with large groups. These involve the students drawing what John is drawing in front of them, and there is always a humorous surprise at the completion of the cartoon. These activities are generally included as part of the large group assembly, but they can also be scheduled as a separate session. John will need an easel with paper, or an "Elmo" drawing projection device.
The following workshops are for smaller groups, class size: 30 students or less. If you tell John the age of the audience and your time frame, he will suggest which sessions or combinations will work best.
Character/Setting/Story!: The older kids create their own stories. They are randomly assigned characters and a setting, and invent a story concept that would explain why the characters are there and what they are doing. Then they draw the scene.
Funny Faces: John teaches the fundamentals of drawing cartoon faces, and helps the kids make their cartoons more expressive.
Match the Caption: The kids draw a cartoon to fit a randomly assigned caption. The objective is to communicate with their drawings.
Pass the Caption: A kind of a cartooning version of the old "telephone game". Hard to explain in two sentences, but very fun.
A WORD FROM JOHN STEVEN GURNEY
"My job as an illustrator is very solitary. I basically sit at my desk or my computer and draw pictures. I really enjoy the opportunity to get out in front of people and talk about what I do. When I visit a school I like to meet with all the students, youngest to oldest. I love reading Dinosaur Train on a carpet to the Pre-k class, I love talking about the sketch revising process with third graders, and I love talking about my oil painting and Photoshop technique with eighth graders. I like to be kept busy the whole day. I am very flexible, and I enjoy the challenge of adapting my program to each school's particular scheduling needs.
"I think it's important for students to understand that an illustration is all about communication. It is a picture designed to give information. Children in our society become visually literate at an early age. If an illustration is effective, kids respond to it, even if they don't know why. I like to tell them why."
Extra fees may apply for international visits.
Fees listed do not include travel expenses (mileage charge for driving, airfare for flying... contact me and I'll calculate).
Lodging may be required if the drive is more than 90 minutes from Brattleboro, VT.
SET-UP AND EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS
John requires a digital projector, and an easel with large drawing paper for his assembly presentations. He needs a microphone if there is a large audience.
For the workshops each student needs a couple sheets of standard copy paper, a pencil and an eraser. John needs an easel with paper. A digital projector is helpful, but not essential, as is an "elmo" drawing device. John may need to xerox some worksheets in advance, depending on the workshop.
John is happy to autograph any of the books he's illustrated. You can order the books through him, if you wish.
LEARN MORE ABOUT JOHN STEVEN GURNEY
John Steven Gurney
Inquiries about Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools