Interview with Children's Book Author and Illustrator Scott Campbell

June 10, 2021

This month we’re excited to introduce you to Scott Campbell, the author and illustrator of Hug Machine, a delightful book we've previously featured in our Board Book Box.

Scott is based in Los Angeles, and he creates paintings, illustrations, comics, kid’s books, and video games. His work has appeared in publications and galleries around the world. (The interview has been edited for clarity.)

Bookroo: What do you hope young readers enjoy about Hug Machine?

Scott: I hope that kids will feel inspired to HUG!

Hug Machine
Hug Machine
Written and illustrated by Scott Campbell
Hug Machine
Written and illustrated by Scott Campbell

The hug machine is available to hug anyone, any time, whether they are square or long, spikey or soft.

Bookroo: What gave you the inspiration for Hug Machine?

Scott: Aside from being a bigger hugger myself, I discovered something funny as I was doodling in a coffee shop one particular day. I realized that drawings of people going about their daily lives with a little kid stuck to them in mid-hug with eyes closed was pretty funny looking. I wanted to know more about this kid who was obsessed with hugging. I figured that he would want to tell me all about it in the way that kids love to tell you to watch them do mundane things. I love when kids are so proud of things they do. Like, “Hey, look at me jump over this puddle! Mom! Look at me do this! You’ll love it!” That kind of thing.

Early sketches for Hug Machine

Bookroo: As a creative across many different mediums, what makes you love creating children’s books?

Scott: I love working with kids. I love how they think and the way they create scenarios in their daily lives. It is fun to create things amongst them and treat them like peers. I feel much joy and exhilaration in my life from this. Anything is possible with kids' stories!

Bookroo: What made you want to write and illustrate children’s books?

Scott: Picture books are a way of reaching kids across the globe in a way that working directly with them cannot do. I like picture books because kids can enjoy them at their own pace. They can spend time with them however they would like.

Bookroo: What does an average day in your life look like?

Scott: I wake up, shower, and step out of my house as soon as I can. The moment I enter the morning air is my favorite time of day. I walk to the local coffee shop and get a coffee and something to eat and then I read for an hour. I find this relaxes me and clears my mind. Then I get to creating whatever I want to create that day. There is usually a 3-4 hour space in the middle of the day where I cannot get much done. Then I get back into painting in the late afternoon. I try to finish my day by 6 or 7 and leave the weekends free. I need this balance to keep my life feeling really good.

Author and illustrator Scott Campbell with family

Bookroo: Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist? What inspires your work?

Scott: I have loved drawing since I was quite small. I used to make books based on the adventures my brother and I had when playing in the backyard. Pop culture has been a huge influence on my work, as well as travelling. I love exploring new places.

Bookroo: It seems like you have expanded your talents across many fields. Do you have any goals for your work to expand even further?

Scott: I would love to make moving pictures. Either cartoons or films. And I would like to perform on stage or in films. I haven’t worked as much with timing in my work, so people read my stories at their own pace, but it would be fun to have those things come to life in a new way. I also want to create an amusement park.

Bookroo: What advice do you have for young creatives and for parents hoping to stimulate the creativity in their children?

Scott: Keep having fun and exploring things as far as you can go. Just put materials in front of kids and let them go nuts! Let them explore in their own way. And allow yourself to explore in your own way too!

Author and illustrator Scott Campbell

Bookroo: We’re a community of children’s book lovers! Do you have any upcoming books we should keep an eye out for?

Scott: Yes! I recently had a book come out called Sleepy, The Goodnight Buddy with the writer of The Day The Crayons Quit , Drew Daywalt. Next year I have a book called SKULLS! coming out that was written by Blair Thornburgh. And I have recently released an activity sketchbook called Adventures in Drawing from Insight Editions. It is a guided sketchbook that kids and adults can enjoy and create with!

Sleepy, the Goodnight Buddy

It is impossible not to crack up while reading this all-dialogue bedtime story by Drew Daywalt, the New York Times #1 best-selling author of THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT. Scott Campbell’s expressive illustrations bring home the hilarity.Roderick hates going to bed, and the young boy has become quite resourceful in coming up with ways to delay the dreaded hour when the lights must go out. Roderick’s loving parents–fed up with the distractions and demands that have become his anti-bedtime ritual–decide to get him a stuffed animal to cuddle with and help him wind down. However, Sleepy quickly proves to be a bit high-maintenance. Just when we fear the night may never end, Sleepy’s antics become too exhausting for Roderick to bear.

Written by Blair Thornburgh & illustrated by Scott Campbell

Debut picture book author Blair Thornburgh and award-winning illustrator Scott Campbell put their heads together to celebrate one of the most important bones in your body: the skull! You probably don’t think much about skulls. So what’s the big deal about them? Well, every head of every person you’ve ever seen has a skull inside. And that includes YOU! This smart, skull-positive story cheerfully dispels any fears kids might have about their skeletons, flipping our view of skulls from a spooky symbol to a fascinating, cool, and crucial part of our bodies.

We really appreciate the opportunity to learn more about Scott and his work as an author and illustrator. You can learn more about him and see more of his work on his creator page and website.

(All images courtesy of Scott Campbell)

See more of Scott's books

  • XO, OX
    Adam Rex, Scott Campbell
  • Brobot Bedtime
    Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Scott Campbell
  • If Dogs Run Free
    Bob Dylan, Scott Campbell

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