Gall, Chris 1961-
Gall, Chris 1961-
Born 1961, in Cleveland, OH. Education: University of Arizona, B.F.A.
Home—Tucson, AZ. E-mail—[email protected]
Graphic artist, illustrator, muralist, and author. Nordenssonn/Lynn advertising agency, Tucson, AZ, art director for four years; freelance graphic artist. University of Arizona, adjunct professor; lecturer to schools and colleges. Formerly worked as a stand-up comedian. Exhibitions: Work included in Society of Illustrators exhibition, almost annually beginning 1987; and Horizons of Flight Aviation Art Exhibit, 1999.
Numerous Communication Arts awards, beginning 1988; Print magazine design awards; Art Directors Club of New York awards of merit; Society of Newspaper Design Award of Excellence; Spectrum Fantastic Art annual awards, 1999, 2000; Borders Original Voices Award nominee, 2006, for Dear Fish.
(Self-illustrated) Dear Fish, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
(Self-illustrated) There's Nothing to Do on Mars, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2008.
Illustrations published in numerous periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Business Week, Gentleman's Quarterly, Newsweek, New York Times, Money, People, Time, and the Washington Post.
After gaining a reputation in the graphic arts field, where his illustrations have appeared in such widely read periodicals as Time, People, and the New York Times, award-winning artist Chris Gall decided to extend his creative endeavors in the field of children's literature. As he explained to Tucson Business Edge online contributor Mark Zepezauer, "Eventually, I started to feel like I wanted to do something a little bit more substantial, something less commercial, something that would have a longer legacy, and so illustrating children's books seemed like an interesting thing to try." Casting about for a subject for his first picture book, Gall did not have to look further than his own family history, and the text of a poem he recalled hanging on the wall of his parents' home. That poem, "America the Beautiful," was written by a distant relative, Katharine Lee Bates, and Gall brings his ancestor's evocative lyrics to life in his first picture book.
First published in 1893 and subsequently set to music by Samuel L. Ward, "America the Beautiful" is one of the most beloved anthems to the United States. To illustrate this inspiring poem, Gall engraved drawings on clay-coated board, then refined them through the use of computer applications. Colored with vibrant tones, his images—which range from Sacagawea traveling down the Missouri River with Lewis and Clark, to the Tuskegee Airmen preparing to take flight during World War II, to a lighthouse standing sentinel on the New England coast—merge "primitive and sophisticated elements to convey a three-dimensional look," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor in appraising Gall's work. Calling America the Beautiful a "striking treatment" of a beloved anthem, Ilene Cooper added in Booklist that Gall's illustrations "celebrate the history and beauty" of the vast panorama that is the United States of America, while the Publishers Weekly critic praised the picture book as "an innovative interpretation of this classic paean to our blossoming country."
Gall brings to life an original, imaginative story in his characteristic block-print style in the picture books DearFish and There's Nothing to Do on Mars. In Dear Fish an innocent weekend outing goes topsy turvy for a polite young lad. When Peter Alan spends an enjoyable day exploring the beach, he leaves behind a brief note in a bottle that invites the sea creatures to visit his inland home in return. Soon, things in Peter's home town start to turn fishy, as puffer fish, sharks, jellyfish, and even a flying blue whale pop up in the most unexpected places. Another young boy is the subject of the quirky story Gall relates in There's Nothing to Do on Mars. When readers first meet him, Davey Martin has just
moved to Mars with his parents. Rather that being excited by his new surroundings, Davey worries that his robodog Polaris will be his only friend. Efforts to play the same games he did on Earth only result in boredom until Davey makes a discovery that could result in a host of new—and Martian green—playmates.
Praising the "quirky humor" in Gall's illustrations for Dear Fish, a Publishers Weekly critic added that the author/artist's "inviting" picture-book "escapade" is awash in "fish puns galore." In School Library Journal
contributor Maura Bresnahan noted that the book's "rich vocabulary" makes Dear Fish a storyhour "gold mine" for "teachers looking for a read-aloud that ties in with a lesson on action words." Gall's "tongue-in-cheek outing will engage readers with a taste for the surreal," predicted a Kirkus Reviews writer, while Breshanan concluded of Dear Fish that "Gall's art will hook more than a few readers."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, May 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of America the Beautiful, p. 1557.
Communication Arts, January-February, 2002, Steve Davis, "Chris Gall," pp. 72-81.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004, review of America the Beautiful, p. 218; April 1, 2006, review of Dear Fish, p. 346.
Publishers Weekly, April 19, 2004, review of America the Beautiful, p. 59; March 6, 2006, review of Dear Fish, p. 72.
School Library Journal, April, 2004, Dona Ratterree, review of America the Beautiful, p. 128; May, 2006, Maura Bresnahan, review of Dear Fish, p. 88.
Chris Gall Home Page,http://www.chrisgall.com (February 7, 2007).
Tucson Business Edge Web site, http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/business_edge/ (February 2, 2007), Mark Zepezauer, profile of Gall.