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An Awesome Guy

By Jenny Bahn

Part illustrator and part childrens’ book author, Dallas Clayton’s life is like being invited into a parallel universe, where everything is fun, spontaneous, and wonderfully possible. In a word, childlike. The message he puts before his audience — both children and adults— is always to stay positive and grounded in self-confidence and avoid the status quo. Clayton is a true DIY publishing success story… [MORE] (which you can see for yourself in the Google ad he stars in). Clayton began to publish his own books independently (and give them away for free) after being turned down by publishers for his first book — aptly titled An Awesome Book! — Eventually, the world took note. An Awesome Book! was an awesome book worth reading.

In just a few short years, Dallas Clayton is a runaway success, with multi-book publishing deals and TV commercials. More importantly, however, he remains an inspiration, proof that talent, hard work, and a whole lot of fun can get you anywhere in life. The Inside Source sat down to talk with Dallas about getting started, old inspirations, and a healthy addiction to fancy pens. 

Jenny Bahn: When did you start doodling, writing, all that?

Dallas Clayton: I started writing ‘zines when I was a teenager. Going to punk shows and stuff, selling them to strangers. That carried over when I moved to LA. I would sell ‘zines on the street out in front of galleries and shows and places where people gathered, then eventually I started getting writing jobs. I wrote my first kids book, An Awesome Book!, four years ago. That was the first real thing I ever really drew. 

Q: What were your favorite books growing up as a child?

A: I’ve always been a big fan of Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl. Those two were amazing to me. Powerhouses. 

Q: What supplies does a writer and illustrator such as yourself require to get the job done?

A: I guess I could do everything with a computer at this point, but that’s really no fun at all. Lots of paper and pens and weird Japanese markers that cost way too much money and make me out to be some kind of marker nerd every time I go to the art supply store. Honestly, I’m still learning as I go, so many years from now this answer will be totally different than today. Hopefully it eventually involves supplies that glow in the dark. 

Q: Who inspires you?

A: People who make things for no real reason other than it makes them happy. Also, people who are brave enough to share those things with others. 

Q: Most awesome moment of your career so far?

A: I’d say, generally speaking, every time I wake up to a new email or letter from someone in another country I’ve never been to letting me know that what I did inspired them, or that they read my books to their kids, or that I’ve been able to help them keep going in some small way — those are like Olympic gold medals to me. Super magic. Unbeatable. 

Q: If you had one thing to shout from the top of a mountain right at this very moment, what would it be?

A: “Keep up the good work!” Hopefully everyone would hear it… except murderers/ robbers. 

(Images: Courtesy of Dallas Clayton)

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