About the Artist

My name is Colleen Kong-Savage—yes, as in King Kong was a Savage beast. This June 2018 I make my children’s book illustration debut with Helena Rhee‘s The Turtle Ship, published by Lee & Low Books. (Woohoo!)

Once upon a time I was intimidated by the big bad city of New York. But Columbia University offered me a spot in their graduate fiction writing program, so away I went to the Big Apple. What a thrill to find an island of a thousand different cultures. Growing up, my family had hopscotched about the globe because of my father’s work. When I returned to the U.S., I missed all the foods and people I had encountered overseas… until I moved to Manhattan. As I earned my MFA, I fell in love with NYC, its growly sense of humor and population of creative oddballs. Because of a phobia of driving, I will never leave the metropolis.

DRW.krftDaughter2Before I began freelancing as a graphic artist, I manned the dusty counters of New York Central Art Supplies and spent so much time coveting the handmade papers, my employer collected back all my wages with my paper purchases. I used to draw inky figures larger than life, which earned me a scholarship to the Art Students League, an art school that nurtured the likes of Georgia O’Keefe, Norman Rockwell, Don Freeman, and countless notables. I worked abstractly as well as figuratively, tearing, crumpling, collaging giant swathes of paper.

Alas space is hard to come by in New York City. After the arrival of my son and his massive collection of trucks and trains, there was no more storage room for super-sized canvases. But no matter, I now had someone with whom to share picture books, which I read and relished long before the birth of my boy. In a move towards pragmatism, I began doing graphic design and illustration for small businesses (and my future greeting card empire, Konga Line), limiting the size of all artwork to the dimensions of my scanner. Big work is limited to the murals I create for public schools through New York Cares.

photo credit:
James Dean (second image) “Daughter Figure” on kraft paper was a set piece for Echoing Women, a dance performance by choreographer Jennifer Chin