Book Trailer Premiere: Builders and Breakers by Steve Light

I’m lucky enough to live in New York City where there is a constant assortment of construction sites. I cannot walk past the green plywood walls that surround these sites without looking in one of the diamond shaped windows. Each window holds such inspiration and excitement. Excavators excavating, cranes hoisting, builders building and breakers breaking. My wife sometimes has to pull me along because I want to look in each and every magical, diamond-shaped construction window.

As a teacher of 3.5-4 year olds, I constantly watch children playing with blocks. The best part is not always in the building but in the knocking down. After watching the building and breaking of block towers over and over again for years, it hit me that there was no book about the demolition and creation of buildings and structures. So, Builders and Breakers was born.

The artwork was a lot of fun. I did full-color illustrations using ink and gouache. The green construction walls were the most exciting to create. I made little posters that I then tore and collaged. I even made a little stencil that read “Post No Bills” and stenciled it on. I also made a little paint roller using wire and a pencil eraser, so I could get the look of many layers of paint over graffiti. For the graffiti, I used a Crayola airbrush marker machine. It blows air over the tip of a marker producing a spray paint look.

Before the final illustrations, while still experimenting with different methods, I found paint markers worked in the Crayola airbrush marker machine, creating an opaque color effect.  Of course, during my first day of working on the final illustrations, I put a paint pen in the machine, started to use it, and it exploded with a stream of paint across my studio. I wrestled this stream of gushing paint, laughing so hard I could not see, just trying to unplug the machine, and not spray paint onto the finished artwork. I now have a beautiful blue paint splatter all up my grey cabinet. I persevered and saved all the finished art that was around the studio from a bath in blue paint. It is adventures in art like this that keep me excited about creating books.

I hope you all enjoy the trailer; Katya Szewczuk did a great job creating it! Looking back on the creation of this book, I loved hiding dinosaur bones for the excavators to find in the dirt and drawing all of these busy construction sites. But that green graffitied wall with diamond-shaped windows will always be my favorite. Every time I pass a green wall now, I chuckle thinking of streams of blue paint, and wrestling with the Crayola airbrush machine in my studio.

Look for Builders and Breakers on October 9, 2018. 


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