Robert’s Snow illustrator profile – Jeff Ebbeler

Click here for information about Robert’s Snow. Click here for the auction pages for this and many other amazing snowflakes. (This snowflake is part of Auction 1)Click here for a round-up of other illustrators being interviewed today and everyday as part of a huge multi-blog effort to publicize this worthy cause.————————————————————-I’m excited to have an interview with mic-rocking illustrator Jeff Ebbeler today.  I  just got the photo of his snowflake and seeing it for the first time makes me say: WHOOHOOO! Could this be the best snowflake of the whole batch? Right here on my blog?

snowflake2.jpgTell us about your snowflake. When you got the invitation did you immediately know what you were going to put on the snowflake?

-This is the second year I’ve made a snowflake. I’m so happy to be able to contribute to Robert’s Snow. It’s a great cause and there are so many friendly and talented people involved. On this snowflake and the last one I wanted to use the shape of the snowflake to help determine the subject. The first snowflake I made a flying saucer, abducting farm animals. There’s a little cowboy lassoing the the flying saucer to rescue them. I had fun building onto the the snowflake with additional pieces of masonite.

snowflake by Jeffrey Ebbeler

This year it took a while to come up with what to do. I was thinking that the shape resembled a gear or spokes on a wheel, so I came around to the idea of making an old time bike. Those bikes are so fun and preposterous looking. It’s great to break out the power tools for a project too. I don’t get the opportunity to do 3D work when I’m illustrating. I worked for many years for a couple of puppet theaters in Cincinnati sculpting wooden marionette so I miss that aspect of making art.


Another blog recently revealed that an illustrator who specializes in animals has a taxidermy collection for reference. Do you have that sort of skeleton in your closet? If not, what’s your secret?

-My wife and I are both artists. We don’t have a collection of taxadermied animals, but I have collected handmade puppets. My best find was trunk full of marionettes from a Chicago PBS kid show from the fifties called Fin and Haddie. I play drums in rockabilly band so we’ve got a number of Elvis paintings on Velvet or painted by artist friends. We also really like folk and outsider art and we’ve taken road trips down south and out west to visit with to a few pieces from the artist we’ve met.

I’ve written before about artists who are really good at drawing clothed animals. You certainly proved that you’ve got the touch with Punxsatawney Phyllis. Any tips/secrets/rules/advice you can share with us for drawing well-dressed animals?

-Doing a groundhog book was a pretty big challenge for me. They are the most nondescript rodent. Every time I tried to exaggerate a facial feature to give one of the ground hogs personality it ended up make them look more like a rat, bear, mouse etc. In that case their clothes can go along way to giving each character personality.


(Her outift is perfect! And a great contrast to the Edwardian hogs.)

How much are your drawings today like those you did as a kid? What’s changed?

-In someways my drawings haven’t changed a whole lot. Especially the subject matter. I was really into drawing comics as a Kid. I did a comic about a gopher fighter pilot, and a series of cartoons about a bunch of oval headed characters who were all named George. I wrote and illustrated my first kids book in 8th grade called Marvin’s Marvelous Mission. It was a space adventure with slime aliens.


(Yep, he’s still drawing aliens.)

We’re all kidlit lovers here. So we want some geeky stuff. Who’s at the top of your favorite illustrators list?

– When I was in high school and early college I started noticing and collecting children’s books. Books by Lisbeth Zwerger, William Joyce, Stephen Gammel, and Lane Smith really showed me that there was a great place to do the kind of art I liked to do.

And answer as many or as few of the grab bag questions as you have time/patience for:

Hardest thing to draw: – Hands

Favorite Wyeth: – I have to say Andrew, I just saw a show of his loose water colors sketches and it blew me away

Favorite “fine art:” – Vermeer. I saw a large collection in a traveling exhibit in Washington DC about 10 years ago. I’ve never seen anyone else who can paint like that.

Favorite post-80s music video: – I’m not sure I ever seen more impressive choreography than OK Go’s treadmill dancing. I think the song is called Here it goes again.

Least favorite Bible story: – I always felt bad for the charioteer and all the first born sons of Egypt.

This year’s Halloween costume: – Sadly, nothing. I love Halloween too.

Favorite comic book artist: – Jon Muth did some fantastic water color comics. Dave McKean’s Mr Punch comic is amazing

All-Time Greatest Kids Book Illustration? – That’s a really tough question. There a bunch of books I always flip through when I’m having a mental block to remind me why I love kids book illustration so much. Tony DiTerlizzi’s book Ted, and William Joyce’s Santa Calls for example. I’d have to say my favorite is Lisbeth Zwerger’s book Christian Morgenstren. The illustration for the Poem Mr. Spoon and Mrs. Fork is such a perfect mixture of skillful draftsmanship and a great sence of humor.

Don’t forget to check out the Ebbeler-site for more great pictures!


11 Responses

  1. […] Jeff Ebbeler, featured by Sam Riddleburger at his blog […]

  2. I love Zwerger, too! I love that snowflake SO MUCH (both of them)!!

    So many !!!s, but they’re warranted here.

  3. Okay, that snowflake has totally blown me away. Love that vintage treatment. Thanks, Sam and Jeff!

  4. aawwwwk! Over Achiever! LOOK at that bike!!!

  5. What a FUN snowflake! What an AMAZING idea!!! How cool! This very well may BE the coolest flake I’ve seen. This hour, anyway. I’m getting to the point where I say that EVERY DAY.

  6. Yowza. That is one beautiful bike. And my husband (a fighter pilot) would like to see Lt. Gopher or whatever that ace’s name is.

  7. OOOO! How wonderful!

  8. Boy did you luck out! I LOVE this snowflake. Great interview.

  9. Very very very very cool flake.

  10. Great snowflake and feature–thanks! (I didn’t think to ask my artists anything cool like you did.)

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