I’m always up for a good interview, aren’t you? So I’ve really been enjoying meeting my contributors a little more closely and getting to know them better than I already did! Haven’t they all been charming? Now, for one of my final introductions. Carter Higgins loves children’s books. And that is an understatement. She lives in them, eats them up morning, noon, and night, and seems to need them like the rest of us need air. She is also writing one of her own. It’s not a bad obsession, is it? Friends, I’d love for you to meet Carter. I consider us lucky to have her curating the best of the best books for Design Mom.
Q: If we only knew four things about you, what would they be?
A: I love, love, love picture books and can attribute both of my careers and lots of my interests to The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales. I can yodel. Learned one in German class in middle school and it hasn’t gotten out of my head since. I’ve broken my ankle ten times (eight on one, two on the other). I have a banjo, and maybe one of these days I’ll learn how to play it.
Q: How did you get here?
A: I’m in southern California now, but I’m a Virginia girl at heart. I grew up in a neighborhood of girls, had a gaggle of gal cousins, and a sparkling sister of my own. It was just one of those magical childhoods you read about in books. After college, I lived in Nashville for a year and worked at a Starbucks. I’m sure my parents were proud. But then I figured, yeah, that thing I avoided trying to become? A teacher? I had to do it. It was just a part of me. I stumbled on the greatest job in the whole school, and was a library media specialist for a number of years.
Remember Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon? I shared it with kids and fell in love over and over and over. These kids were so visual, even before the dawn of the iThings, and I loved figuring out pictures and storytelling that way. Because that made me reflect on my own reactions to images, I drove across the country to become a student myself. Now, I do motion graphic design and I get to tell stories visually through animation. Being creative on the clock (or on a deadline!) is thrilling some days and gut-wrenching on others. And I still get to teach, but this time to adults (even though I sometimes say cutesy-I-used-to-teach-small-ones things and they stare at me like I am a complete wacko).
Q: Tell us about your life today, right this very minute.
A: I spend my mornings trying to remember to put the coffee filter in before I turn the pot on, and then doing crazy complicated math in my head to figure out the optimal time to leave the house and avoid LA rush hour gridlock. Even though that sounds dramatic, I actually don’t mind the white noise that comes with sitting in traffic. Most days. I’m writing a middle grade novel and I spend that time getting to know the characters and letting them tell me their story. Or I’ll have bursts of picture book ideas and I’ll tumble the rhythms around out loud. I’m sure my traffic-jam-mates just think I am singing along to the radio, but no, I’m just talking to myself.
When I get to the studio, I greet the boys and hunker down with my art. There are so many boys in this industry! Sometimes I feel like I should call up the P.E. teacher from my school days, cause now I know what it must have been like for him! But I’m learning a lot about NERF guns, video games, and fantasy football, so there’s that.
When I’m not working in the studio or teaching or sitting in traffic, I am at a very, very beginning ballet class. I’ve totally mastered first position. Or I’m writing…causing chaos for a hippo or revisiting the heart of a twelve year old girl.
Q: Three things you love, and three things you don’t love at all!
A: I love five dollar wine, the word eyeball, and my Granny. I do not love the dentist, flip flops, or stickers on produce. (They end up stuck to all kinds of places or things or you forget to remove them and cut them and eat them and just…no thanks.)
Q: How do you spend the favorite part of your everyday?
A: When I started writing my blog, I thought the smooshing of graphic design and picture books might be a bizarre wheelhouse, but it turns out that people like books and pictures just as much as I do! I love a good cup of coffee in the morning (assuming I remembered that darn filter!) and connecting with people who call my little slice of the web home, too. By the end of the day though, I love a good pair of sweatpants, SportsCenter on in the background, and comfortable quiet with my main squeeze.
Q: The last thing you saw online that moved you…
A: Have you heard of Caine’s Arcade? Caine’s dad runs a used auto parts store in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, and Caine created an elaborate cardboard arcade in a corner of the store. I mean, this thing is a feat of engineering. Caine’s vision? Unmatched. But the store is in a sleepy area, and though Caine dreamed of paying customers, got none. And then a man named Nirvan Mullack just needed a door handle for an old Toyota Corolla. Instead, he became Caine’s first customer. He made a friend, and he made a movie. And if you can watch this and not shed tears of sheer joy, please ask someone to pinch you.
Celebrate imagination, and look for moments where you just slow down, stop, and buy the Fun Pass.
Q: If you were given one do-over, what moment would you choose to change?
A: I wouldn’t purposely misspell ‘aisle’ as ‘isle’ in the third grade spelling bee. Spelling is cool.
Q: Please fill in the blanks: If I wasn’t a (blank), I’d probably be a (blank).
A: If I wasn’t a designer, I’d probably be a librarian. Although once upon a time, I could have said if I wasn’t a librarian, I’d probably be a designer. Hmm. What a fun circular puzzle!
Carter, this was a joy. Someday, I hope to see your own book gracing a post here on Design Mom! And I can’t wait to read it!
P.S. — You can meet all the Design Mom Contributors here.