Click below to hear an audio clip with Michael
Courtesy of TeachingBooks.net
Michael Austin was a boy like all others…for maybe the first year or two. He grew up in an old Florida town, running wild with local folklore. He spent his childhood befriending the ghosts of local sea pirates and hunting treasure through mossy groves. With the help of his family and neighbors, he filled his head with stories of headless horsemen, creepy families, crumbling Victorian houses, and windswept cranberry bogs. It wasn’t long before Michael was just bursting with stories and they began to spill out, one by one in the form of drawings. They poured onto not just the page, but anything he could touch. Rocks, paper plates, packing boxes and walls all featured Michael’s work in some form or another. Whether they were signed and saved remains to be seen (ask his mom).
His big break came in the third grade when his teacher, Mrs. Sturgeon, had the class write and illustrate stories daily. Michael was in heaven. If ever a story existed he would find it, devour it, digest it and spit it out in pictures that seemed to move and breathe almost as if they had always lived in his head, waiting for freedom.
As a young man, Michael was the “interesting” guy who started the high school art club and wrote stories on the side. It logically followed that, like most creative people, Michael immediately ruled out a creative living and went to college for Medical Technology–you know, something sensible. While at school, he was joined at the hip with his sketch book, pouring out ideas and stories, still recording every thought that came to his head in the form of fantastic images. Luckily, logic, passion (or just plain stubbornness) prevailed. Michael changed his major to Advertising/Journalism.
His portfolio includes sprawling wall-productions for Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation, record labels and magazines such as Highlights, Spider and Cricket. His illustrations hang in children’s museums and he has even made an appearance on the GCPSTV television program, The Author In You.
However, Michael’s artistic endeavors do not, stop there. All while working as the creative director at a small publishing house, he’s illustrated many books, including Railroad John and the Redrock Run and Sam Patch; Daredevil Jumper. These books have been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, the IRC/CBC Children’s Choice Awards, Parent’s Guide to Media Awards, Bank Street College of Education and the Irma Simonton & James H. Black Award for the Best Picture Book of the Year, just to name a few.
Michael now lives in Georgia with his wife, Kim and his monster sheep dog, Riley. While he would have you believe that he’s kind of a creepy, twisted gothic guy, his open and good-humored nature belies him. Don’t let the black clothes fool you; just ask him anytime for a story about his crazy pinecone-eating dog, and you’ll find someone who truly lives to illustrate. Whether doing so through pen and paints or through voices and facial expressions, Michael is all about telling the story–and making it come as alive for the audience as it is in his head.