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I’ve been wanting to do a book with Ryan Sias because his illustrations are so cartoony, bubbly and fun. Ryan’s free weekly Sias Studios emails feature creative worksheets with new characters I always want to call my own. But I can’t. They’re his. But they can be YOURS, too, because anyone can receive his free doodle and story pages by signing up at SiasStudios.com.

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(A PIZZA SPACESHIP! Why didn’t I think of that??? ANCHOVY ALIENS! PEPPERONI FROM PLUTO!)

Ryan’s new book SNIFF! SNIFF! just landed on my front porch and I could not resist this cuddly little doggie with the huge honker. How adorable! The bold, sketchy outlines and bright colors will attract the youngest readers with this tale of true friendship and love.

The curious star of the story gets into all kinds of mischief with “SNIFF, SNIFF” being a recurring theme. Repetitive phrases help new readers recognize words…and also practice their onomatopoeia out loud. The story is told through action and play while also showing kids all about having a pet. (Not easy, but rewarding!) A really fun read-aloud with lots to look at!

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Hey, do you want to learn how to draw this cute fella? Well, do you, boy? Yes, you do! YES, YOU DO!!!

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Ryan, what were your thoughts behind the design of your dog and how did you accomplish them?

For my Dog I wanted the design to be animated, super cute with a BIG NOSE (but not a gross nose). Originally he was more normal dog proportions, but the more I drew him, the bigger his head and nose got. When I create characters I draw them again and again and quicker each time, to get a loose and fluid design. Then “Ta da!” I end up with the final design!

I wanted him to look like pure energy and love. To have tons of expression and while he was being bad, not look mean but full of curiosity and wonder.

The dog doesn’t have a name in the book, but does he have a name in your head?

In my head his name is Simon, which is the dog I dedicated the book to. He was my BFF and a golden retriever. He has the attitude of the dog in my book. Full of joy and love plus a destructive side. Here is a photo from ’95 of me and Simon.

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You offer fun weekly drawing lessons and creativity activities for kids, delivered via email. We all know art education is shrinking in some school districts. Why do you think art education is so important?

To me art education is THE most important because it teaches abstract problem solving, and that is the key to a kid’s success in life. I am not saying every kid needs to be a painter, but learning how to think “outside” the box will grant success in any field. Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein were amazing abstract problem solvers.

So since arts are getting cut, I have developed Sias Studios free weekly emails. They’re designed to promote creative thinking and foster children’s imaginations. Our original art projects encourage kids to invent their own stories and make art without boundaries. We provide a springboard for children to dive into artistic discovery!

Well, the springboard is strong enough for adults, too! I know I enjoy jumping in every week! SPLASH! SPLASH!

Ryan, you happen to be dyslexic, which I find amazing considering your profession. How do you overcome the difficulties of Dyslexia as an author?

Short answer: A lot of people go over my work to make sure it’s all spelled and punctuated correctly.

Long answer: My mom is a teacher and had me tested in first grade, so i’ve known my whole life and I’ve grown to see Dyslexia as an advantage—as a creative my brain works differently than a lot of people. A lot of huge creatives are dyslexic: Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Picasso, Jim Carrey and John Lennon to name a few. It didn’t get in their way. I can always find people to spell check, but not everyone knows how to use their creativity.

For books, I am lucky that I write and Illustrate, so I let my artwork do most of the talking. Then I use words to fill in what I can’t show. In my new book SNIFF! SNIFF! it’s mostly visual with just 12 words.

But that is not to say it’s easy for me. My problem comes through in emails, which have errors, which is a REAL problem at first, because I’m emailing editors who are spelling kings! So I have to have those emails gone over also. As my relationships progress, they quickly learn that I am dyslexic (also I tell them pretty early on) so they understand. I also have a great agent who helps fill in the holes.

So while it is more work for me, I just know I can’t send anything out with out a group of people checking it and rechecking it.

I think what you accomplish is incredible considering this disability! Thank you for sharing your creativity with us.

Ryan’s also sharing a copy of SNIFF! SNIFF! with a lucky winner.

Leave a comment below to enter. In the comment, tell us what you think the doggie’s name is. I’ll call him Mr. Scruffles. (One comment per person, please. No taking “Mr. Scruffles,” either.)

A random winner will be selected in two weeks! Good luck! 

Ryan_headshotby Ryan Sias

Tara asked me to talk about inspiration for the writer/illustrator.

As a writer/illustrator I need double inspiration. One inspiration for a great story and another inspiration for an exciting art style. I’m going to give you my tips for finding inspiration.

The number one trick for both is “LOOK.”

You need to look and observe everything, art, books, TV, movies, nature and family. Inspirational ideas are everywhere.

My favorite places to LOOK for writing ideas are:

1. Kids
They are full of original ideas, just hang out with a kid for a few hours and you’ll have like 20 story ideas. A few nights ago it was Halloween, and I saw millions of stories in the costumes. Each costume had a story, plus then the costumed character runs into other costumed characters for more stories.

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2. Kids again!
They come up with the craziest ideas. Sit down and create a story with a child. It will be crazy, but the trick is to mold their ideas into things that are logical.

3. Go to the library or book store, sit down and read 20-30 books.
If you don’t have ideas at the end of that then you should look for another career. My trick for that is to take a character you invent and put them in the story you read. How would it be different? That will generate ideas instantly.

My favorite places to LOOK for art ideas:

1. Galleries/museums.
Fine art is about pushing boundaries of medium and ideas. Which is different than illustration, where it’s about legibility. So I go to galleries and LOOK at their ideas then try to add some of those qualities to my work.

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2. Book store or library.
Just like my writing tip, sit down and go through 20-30 books, then take the visual ideas you like and put it into your art.

3. Internet.
Image searches or illustration web sited are FULL of ideas.

You can find inspiration anywhere—you just have to LOOK!

BONUS: Need more places to look? Sign up for my weekly creative projects email. It’s called Sias Studios (see Tara’s post about it here) and every week I email a free PDF that includes drawing lessons, writing prompts, and doodle pages. Use it as a springboard and have tons of new ideas!

Have fun!

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guestbio
Ryan has been making kids laugh and learn for over two decades. A 20-year animation, film and television veteran, he has directed videos for Barney and Chuck E. Cheese and his storyboarding credits include “Robots”, “Bowling for Columbine”, “Pinky Dinky Doo”, “Maya & Miguel” and “Sesame Street.”

As a successful children’s book creator and cartoonist, Ryan wrote and illustrated the picture book Zoe and Robot—Let’s Pretend and a board book focused on healthy eating habits for kids entitled Are You Eating Something Red?. His comics have appeared in Nickelodeon magazine and Mad magazine.

He is currently working on more books, developing animation projects and trying to figure out the perfect pancake recipe.

Visit him at RyanSias.com

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zoeandrobotRyan is giving away an original ZOE and ROBOT drawing!

This prize will be given away at the conclusion of PiBoIdMo. You are eligible for this prize if:

  1. You have registered for PiBoIdMo.
  2. You have commented ONCE ONLY on today’s post.
  3. You have completed the PiBoIdMo challenge. (You will have to sign the PiBoIdMo Pledge at the end of the event.)

Good luck, everyone!

Ryan_headshotby Ryan Sias

I met Tara a few years ago at an SCBWI event; her enthusiasm for books is infectious. What I love about picture books is how they spark children’s imaginations. In between working on books, I do these free weekly creative projects for kids under the name Sias Studios.

SiasStudio_logo_smallSias Studios‘ free weekly emails are designed to promote creative thinking and foster children’s imaginations. Our original art projects encourage kids to invent their own stories and make art without boundaries. We provide a springboard for you child to dive into artistic discovery!

Our silly and fun material engages children to create a positive art experience. Suggested for ages four to eleven—or anyone who is a kid at heart! Just print and color!

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When you sign up to the mailing list at SiasStudios.com, we will email you our free weekly art projects. The emails will contain a downloadable PDF—just hit the button and print from your home computer. It’s easy, creative, and fun!

Click here to see our most recent project.

We suggest you do these activities along with your child. Show them how fun it is to brainstorm and create their own stories, and encourage them to keep asking questions.

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Ryan, what gave you the idea to start this fun program?

The concept came from a combination of ideas. First, I love drawing with my nieces and nephews, it’s always silly and crazy. They live in other states so I don’t get to do it as often as I like. Next was the fact schools are always cutting art classes, and I worry that kids are not developing their creativity. I wanted to do something for every kid that was super-wacky fun, something that encourages art brainstorming.

Then while on a walk the idea hit me. I should combine these ideas into one project!

That afternoon I sent some art projects to my nieces and then thought why not open this up to everyone?!

What has been your favorite project thus far?

The newest project is always my favorite because its new. I love creating wacky characters, so the trill of that is exciting. My favorite one is Waffle Dude; the idea just tickles me.

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Ryan Sias has been making kids laugh and helping them learn for over two decades. A twenty-year veteran of animation, film, and television, he has directed projects for Barney and Chuck E. Cheese, and created story art for Sesame Street, Pinky Dinky Doo for Nick Jr., and Maya & Miguel for PBS.

Ryan’s illustrated picture book “Are You Eating Something Red?” was selected by the Museum of Modern Art  to be included in the MOMA Store’s children’s catalogue. His latest book “Zoe & Robot: Let’s Pretend” is available on Amazon. Ryan’s comics have appeared in Nickelodeon Magazine and Mad Magazine.

Ryan also makes appearances at schools and libraries. His “Story Laboratory” workshop teaches drawing and storytelling in an entertaining and collaborative presentation. Contact Sias Studios for information on booking your own “Story Laboratory“!

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My Picture Books

COMING SOON:


illus by Melissa Crowton
Tundra/PRH Canada
June 4, 2019


illus by Ross MacDonald
Disney*Hyperion
October 15, 2019

THREE WAYS TO TRAP A LEPRECHAUN
illus by Vivienne To
HarperCollins
Spring 2020

THE WHIZBANG WORDBOOK
illustrator TBA
Sourcebooks eXplore
August 2020

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