Illustrator/Author Spotlight-Kadir Nelson

"I feel that art’s highest function is that of a mirror, reflecting the innermost beauty and divinity of the human spirit; and is most effective when it calls the viewer to remember one’s highest self. I choose subject matter that has emotional and spiritual resonance and focuses on the journey of the hero as it relates to the personal and collective stories of people."-Kadir Nelson

 Kadir Nelson became my favorite illustrator when I saw a cover he created for The New Yorker. My first thought was that nobody could make such a inspiring and realistic drawing for a magazine, but I was wrong. I felt like I was seeing colors in slow motion that came together all by themselves. So I did some research on this wonderful artist, because I wanted to know more about him.

Nelson was born in 1974 and started his love for drawing and painting at the age of three. He also was an apprentice to his uncle, who was an artist and also an art instructor. Nelson's work can be found in art galleries, museums, and also in the private collection of famous people. He has created artwork for esteemed clients and artwork for music albums.  He created the album cover for Drake's, "Nothing was the Same" and Micheal Jackson's album entitled "Micheal".

Now we get to my favorite part, Nelson is also an author and illustrator of several children books. He has worked with Spike Lee and his wife, Debbie Allen, and many more with creating children's literature . Nelson started his career in children books when he was asked to illustrate a book by Jerdine Nolen. I am fortunate to have some of his books within my book collection. I really enjoy the collaborations he does with authors and others to make these books come alive. Please enjoy his beautiful books below! I know you will enjoy just looking at the book covers! For more books and artwork please checkout Kadir Nelson's website

2009 Sibert Medal for We Are the Ship
Coretta Scott King Award for Ellington Was Not a Street, written by Ntozake Shange
NAACP Image Award for Just the Two of Us,
2008 Caldecott Honor for Henry's Freedom Box, written by Ellen Levine
New York Society of Illustrator Award Big Jabe
NYT Best-Selling picture books including, “WE ARE THE SHIP: The Story of Negro League Baseball” and “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans


  1. I agree with you. Kadir Nelson's work is magnificent and I have a collection of them. I love the one you featured of Mandela. The cover looks like a beautiful oil painting. I cherish it!

    1. Yes his work is amazing! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Thanks for this wonderful post. I appreciate hearing how his art touched you personally as a youngster. This reaffirms my belief that literature serves an essential function in bringing us together.

    1. Yes, I believe books move people in magical ways! Thanks for stopping by!


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