London Ladd, a graduate of Syracuse University with an MFA in Illustration, whose artwork has been featured in numerous critically acclaimed picture books, newspapers and magazines, along with community based murals. He uses a unique mixed media approach combining cut paper textured with acrylic paint, tissue paper, colored pencil, pen & ink to bring his diverse subjects to life. Each image is steeped in intensity and emotion, a reflection of the artist himself.
His goal is to open a visual arts community center for lower-income families so they can make their own art in a fun, creative environment.
His clients include, Knopf, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Philomel Books, Rise Books, Just Us Books, Disney/Hyperion, Scientific American, and New York Times to name a few.
How has art carried you through so many joys and pains?
During my almost thirty years of studying art, I’ve walked away numerous times, whether for personal or financial reasons. Still, I eventually returned to it because it was in my heart. The most traumatic years of my life were 2018 – 2019. In 2018, my long-term marriage ended. In 2019, my mother died. Art was a large factor in my healing from those end significant losses. In fall 2019, I started grad school at Syracuse University, deciding to approach art and life with an attitude of fearlessness that held me back. Art is my passion which I don’t take for granted. Art saved me and continues to open new possibilities in my life I never knew existed.
What do you enjoy the most about being an illustrator?
What I love most about being an illustrator is a variety of things. One is problem-solving. To take written text and have to create an image(s) is an exhilarating thrill. The rush I get when first seeing an email from the art director never gets old because the projects are never the same, so my thought process is different. Two, creating the art, whether traditional mixed media or digital, I’m doing work that best represents me within the depths of my heart, and to pour on the page is exciting. Three, the therapeutic elements of creating art. Being alone, surrounded by art-making materials, is my sanctuary from the world’s cares. I love it!!
Tell us about the powerful vibrant imagery in the book, Black Gold written by Laura Oboubi.
Laura Oboubi wrote a story that spoke to me in ways no other story I’ve illustrated has ever Black Gold is about the unconditional love between a mother and child. I wanted the imagery to convey that in this ethereal, mystical, vast, dense way that can span the cosmos. Each page builds upon this theme with rich colors that sometimes seem like it is moving and still at the same time. I poured so much love and care into Black Gold so the reader will not only see visually but feel it as well.
BLACK GOLD (Harper Collins), written by Laura Oboubi. This lyrical picture book is a joyous, poetic, celebration of Black children and a reminder of the Universe’s unconditional love in stunning verse and captivating collage. Perfect for fans of Sulwe!
When the Universe decides to create a child, she draws from the earth—rich, dark, and full of everything that gives life, including eyes like black star sapphires and full lips to speak the truth. With help from the Sun and the Moon, they create a child of the Universe: beautiful, powerful, and boundless with the brilliance of Black Gold.
Laura Obuobi’s empowering, whimsical text and London Ladd’s lustrous, captivating illustrations will inspire children to love themselves exactly as they are.
What was important to you on this project?
Everything! It is symbolic of rebirth as an artist by seeing and creating in ways that at most faithful to my heart. Understanding the importance of the details within each mixed media illustrates how it reflects me and how I desire to push deeper into my craft of creating art—seeing both the large picture and small details, points of movement, and stillness of the moment. My journey as a man,
father, friend, partner, and artist has prepared an expression through the art spilled the pages of Black Gold, a deep love that can’t be easily explained but felt in the spirit.
What’s next for you?
So many things!! Currently, I’m busy in many areas. I’m teaching some illustration courses at Syracuse University and loving it!! I get to share my knowledge and experiences with young people as they embark on their artistic journeys. I’m illustrating a fantastic book, My Hair is a Book, written by Maisha Oso, a beautiful story about the love of black hair. Afterward, four more books to illustrate over the next three years, so I’m literally “booked up” for the next three years. I’m in the process of writing and illustrating my first picture book too, and I’m thrilled at the opportunity. Also still doing editorial illustrations for various newspaper and magazine publications and anything else unexpected that might come my way. I love every minute because I’m doing what I love creating art.