How Sheridan graduate Jon Klassen became one of Canada’s most successful illustrators


John Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back (2011).

Sheridan Animation alumnus Jon Klassen was recently awarded the Premier’s Provincial Award in the Creative Arts and Design category on Tuesday, November 17th, 2015. Klassen, along with six other Ontario college graduates, were presented with the award for their outstanding social and economic contributions throughout the year.

Klassen had a sudden rise to success as Canada’s most well-known author/illustrators. After graduating from Sheridan’s Animation program in 2005, Klassen interned at DreamWorks studio as a story animator. He was hired by Laika studios at the end of his internship where he worked on the critically acclaimed films Coraline (2008) and Kung Fu-Panda (2009). After deciding to illustrate his first children’s book in 2010, Klassen gained international recognition when he was awarded the Governor General’s Award for English-language children’s illustration for his work on the picture book Cats’ Night Out, written by Carolyn Stutson. Klassen turned to illustration full time after the success of his first book and continued illustrating and writing two additional critically acclaimed children’s books I Want My Hat Back (2011) and its sequel This Is Not My Hat (2012). Both books remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 40 weeks. The books have won a host of accolades, sold more than a million copies and have been translated into 22 languages. This is Not My Hat also won both the American Caldecott Medal and the British Kate Greenaway Medal for children’s book illustration. He became the first Canadian nominee to be presented with both awards on the same work.

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Klassen attributed his significant advantage to his animation training in helping him with his illustration career. During his most recent stop at Sheridan, he said “My education at Sheridan gave me this amazing springboard to try out many things and be confident that when I deliver ideas to an audience, I’ll be understood. That’s a great gift.”

Klassen continues to influence many aspiring authors and illustrators. Most recently he traveled to Hong Kong on Thursday, November 19th, 2015 for a talk at Bring Me A Book, Hong Kong, a leading advocate for family literacy in the city. Klassen touched on the creative process in writing children’s picture books and the commitment it requires while working in the field of film animation. Sheridan alumni interviewed Klassen for their profile page.  You can visit his personal website and Tumblr page here.


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