Rodriguez, Edel 1971-

views updated

Rodriguez, Edel 1971-


Born 1971, in Havana, Cuba; immigrated to United States, 1980; married; wife's name Jennifer; children: one daughter. Education: Pratt Institute, B.F.A., 1994; Hunter College, M.F.A., 1998.


Home—Mt. Tabor, NJ. Agent—Holly M. McGhee, Pippin Properties, 155 E. 38th St., Ste. 2H, New York, NY 10016. E-mail—[email protected].


Illustrator. Has worked at Spy magazine; art director of Time magazine's Canadian and Latin American editions for more than ten years. Created stamps for United States Postal Service, 2005; creator of posters for Broadway plays and musicals. Exhibitions: Works included in permanent collection at Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Washington, DC, and in private collections. Group shows include PEP Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, 2007; Lonsdale Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2008; Gallery Nucleus, Alhambra, CA, 2008; and Society of Illustrators Show, New York, NY, 2008.

Awards, Honors

Gold and Silver medals for editorial illustration, Society of Illustrators; Notable Opinion Art of 2008 selection, New York Times.



Sergio Makes a Splash!, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2008.


Katherine Leiner, Mama Does the Mambo, Hyperion Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Ntozake Shange, Float like a Butterfly, Hyperion Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Katie Sciurba, Oye, Celia!: A Song for Celia Cruz, Holt (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including New Yorker, American Illustration, Communication Arts, Fortune, Washington Post, New York Times, Gentleman's Quarterly, Progressive, Billboard, Vibe, Nation, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, and Time.


A celebrated illustrator who immigrated to the United States in 1980 during the Mariel Boatlift, Edel Rodriguez has provided the artwork for a number of well- received children's books, created posters for Broadway shows, designed stamps for the United States Postal Service, and contributed to such publications as the New Yorker and Time. "Rodriguez's illustration style is rooted in the strong revolutionary graphics that were ubiquitous in Cuba, where he was born, and by his fascination with the American icons and advertising he discovered when he arrived in Florida at the age of nine," stated contributor Owen Phillips. "Art directors love working with Rodriguez, citing his diligent work ethic and imaginative sketch work."

Rodriguez first served as a children's book illustrator for Mama Does the Mambo, a story by Katherine Leiner that examines loss and familial bonds. Set in Havana, Cuba, the work centers on a young girl who wants to find a new dance partner for her lonely, widowed mother. "Rodriguez's illustrations, with their soft pastels and sharp black linework, have the transporting power of old postage stamps, getting the atmosphere of Havana just right," a Kirkus Reviews critic remarked, and Nell D. Beram, writing in Horn Book, similarly noted that the illustrator's "mixed-media artwork glints or broods according to the narrative's mood and vividly conveys the flavors, textures, and hues of Havana."

In Float like a Butterfly, Ntozake Shange chronicles the life of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. According to Clarence V. Reynolds in Black Issues Book Review, "Rodriguez has created a combination of simple woodblock ink images with colorful pastels and full-page, spray paint artwork to convey Ali's energy. It works." Katie Sciurba's Oye, Celia!: A Song for Celia Cruz, a tribute to the acclaimed Cuban salsa singer, also features illustrations by Rodriguez. "Each page vibrates with bold movement and a warm palette," commented School Library Journal reviewer Mary Elam, and Jennifer Mattson, writing in Booklist, observed that Rodriguez's pictures "convey the singer's powerful presence and warmly interpret salsa's Caribbean rhythms."

A self-illustrated work, Sergio Makes a Splash! concerns a young penguin who loves the water but has not learned to swim. When his class plans a field trip to the ocean, Sergio dons floaties, a snorkel, and goggles in an effort to overcome his fears. A critic in Kirkus Reviews described Sergio as "an everypenguin, whose angst in the face of new experiences will strike a chord" with readers, and a Publishers Weekly contributor stated that Rodriguez's digitally enhanced woodblock prints "each pack a poster-like punch."

Rodriguez, who has received a variety of honors for his work, including a gold and silver medal from the Society of Illustrators, is not content to rest on his laurels. "I've been very lucky to have worked on such important projects at a fairly young age," he remarked to Phillips. "I'm still very surprised by the whole thing. I've always wanted to work on a reportage story for a magazine, go somewhere and spend some time and tell the story as I see it. There's a possibility of that happening some day, I think."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Black Issues Book Review, November-December, 2002, Clarence V. Reynolds, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Fairy Tales," review of Float like a Butterfly, p. 42.

Booklist, November 1, 2001, Kay Weisman, review of Mama Does the Mambo, p. 483; September 1, 2002, John Green, review of Float like a Butterfly, p. 131; April 1, 2007, Jennifer Mattson, review of Oye, Celia!: A Song for Celia Cruz, p. 61; May 15, 2008, Abby Nolan, review of Sergio Makes a Splash!, p. 50.

Horn Book, January-February, 2002, Nell D. Beram, review of Mama Does the Mambo, p. 69; November-December, 2002, Peter D. Sieruta, review of Float like a Butterfly, p. 781.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2001, review of Mama Does the Mambo, p. 1215; September 1, 2002, review of Float like a Butterfly, p. 1320; April 1, 2007, review of Oye, Celia!; April 1, 2008, review of Sergio Makes a Splash!

Miami Herald, July 5, 2008, Sue Corbett, "Mariel Refugee Turns His Artistic Talent from Magazines to Children's Books," p. 1E.

Publishers Weekly, September 24, 2001, review of Mama Does the Mambo, p. 93; September 16, 2002, review of Float like a Butterfly, p. 68; May 5, 2008, review of Sergio Makes a Splash!, p. 61.

School Library Journal, November, 2001, Blair Christolon, review of Mama Does the Mambo, p. 128; October, 2002, Ajoke' T.I. Kokodoko, review of Float like a Butterfly, p. 152; March, 2007, Mary Elam, review of Oye, Celia!, p. 186; April, 2008, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Sergio Makes a Splash!, p. 120.

ONLINE, (July 4, 2005), Owen Phillips, interview with Rodriguez.

Drawger Web site, (January 1, 2009), "Edel Rodriguez."

Illoz Web site, (January 1, 2009), "Edel Rodriguez."

Picture Mechanics Web site, (January 1, 2009), "Edel Rodriguez."

Pippin Properties Web site, (January 1, 2009), "Edel Rodriguez."

About this article

Rodriguez, Edel 1971-

Updated About content Print Article