Illustrator, fine artist, and teacher. Creates artwork for greeting cards, games, and home furnishings. Industrial Light and Magic, Van Nuys, CA, storyboard illustrator for film Star Wars, 1993. Exhibitions: Monotypes, paintings, and prints included in collections in United States and Europe.
UNDER NAME RONI SHEPHERD
Barbara Baker. Third Grade Is Terrible, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
Caron Lee Cohen, Bronco Dogs, Dutton Children's Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Nancy White Carlstrom, Wheels, Wheels, Wheels, Scott Foresman (Chicago, IL), 1991.
Lisa Eisenberg, Silly Animals, Silver Burdett Ginn (New York, NY), 1998.
Doreen Beauregard, Jazz Band, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2005.
Gunnar Madsen, Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, Little Brown (New York, NY), 2005.
Irana Shepherd told SATA: "People sometimes ask me how I came to be an artist and illustrate children's books. The book part is easy: I just loved them from as far back as I can remember. The art part is more complicated, and I usually just answer vaguely, ‘Well, my mother and father were artists, sort of….’
"I will tell you a part of the real story: I was lucky to grow up near the beach, in a family that loved all kinds of music and books and art. In fact, my family liked art so much, that we actually lived in a place called ‘The Laboratory of Art,’ which was my first art education, you might say.
"My mother liked pretty much what you would call ‘normal’ art: she hung Degas ballet dancers in my sister's and my bedroom, and nice Gauguin etchings in the kitchen. But my father, the mad art-scientist, liked what then (in the 1950s) could only be called weird or odd-ball art. He called it his ‘accidental art’ and it was everywhere in our house—hanging from the walls, the ceiling, made into lighting fixtures and tables, mounted on museum-type pedestals in our entry way. In front of the house was a fifteen-foot-high mural made of accidental art. To my mortal embarrassment, over the front door he put a sign, ‘Laboratory of Art.’
"This art could be just about anything that had been transformed and made more interesting and beautiful (to my dad anyway) by accident of man or nature. It might be some rusted, smashed, and flattened old cables twined in curls, or a piece of coral worn down and shaped just so by the ocean, or maybe a twisted remnant of a car's bumper that looked like a bird in flight. Either nature or technology had had its way with the object; time, exposure, water, wind, pressure, steam roller, explosion—anything could create a happy accident.
"But not just any thing or any accident would do the trick: it had to be really, really interesting; also unique and pleasing to the eye, have good lines, dynamic forms, and most importantly, it had to have that certain something that you couldn't put your finger on. When it was framed, that old smashed beer can with tire marks on it really did look pretty cool.
"My friends and I loved to beachcomb, and it was a great coup when we brought home some treasure, some old mangled bits of cement and seaweed, or a dried up bunch of strange seedpods, to hear Dad's, ‘Wow, look at that!’ He would hold the thing up, turn it around, seeing it in different angles and lights; if it passed inspection, he mounted, framed or hung it, put a spot light on it, and, Voila! It was a piece of art! Maybe one of these days I will write a picture book about the Laboratory of Art, and all those good times we had beachcombing for art, but right now I have to go check the water, it's low tide this morning…."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1989, review of Third Grade Is Terrible, p. 141.
Horn Book, September-October, 1989, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Third Grade Is Terrible, p. 646; July-August, 2005, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 454.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 454.
Publishers Weekly, May 24, 1991, review of Bronco Dogs, p. 57; August 23, 1991, review of Third Grade Is Terrible, p. 64.
School Library Journal, November, 1989, Nancy Seiner, review of Third Grade Is Terrible, p. 102; September, 1991, Danita Nichols, review of Bronco Dogs, p. 231; December, 1991, Susan Scheps, review of The Match between the Winds, p. 80; August, 2005, Marge Loch-Wouters, review of Old Mr. Mackle Hackle, p. 102.
Irana Shepherd Home Page,http://www.iranashepherd.com (September 10, 2006).