I am an illustrator, author, and automotive
A picture book maker and an engineer may sound quite different, but they have many similarities. Both require writing and pictures to communicate ideas.
A Brief Biography
I grew up in the suburbs of Akron, Ohio and graduated from the
University of Toledo with a mechanical engineering degree. Then
I moved to the metro-Detroit area to work as an engineer in the
automotive industry, where I still reside today.
Drawing was always something I enjoyed and was fortunate to have encouragement growing up. Cartoons, comics (humorous and superheroes), and the fantastical were my favorite subjects to draw, but I also enjoyed handwriting, drafting, geometry and anything else that involved a drawing instrument and paper.
My formal art training was K-12 school. Later, I attended some art classes at community colleges, local art centers, and the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. But I was always reading books on drawing and trying to imitate artists that inspired me. I kept finding ways to make use of my drawing skills in whatever class, organization, or job I had, which continues to this day.
I tried my hand at comic books and submitting comic strips for syndication. At comic book conventions professional artists gave me good critiques, which led me to take evening classes in graphic design (where I met my future parter) and figure drawing.
Later, I joined the Ann Arbor Ad Club to learn about the use of illustration in marketing. Through that and running ads in The Big Idea, a trade magazine for the Detroit advertising scene, I made some connections that led to commercial illustration work and the need to learn Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
Through book collecting, I discovered (or rediscovered, I'm not sure) Edward Gorey. He opened my eyes to how many ways words and pictures can be combined into stories. Gorey led me to Edward Lear and allowing myself to play with words and make nonsense.
Since then, I have been learning the picture book craft, joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and participate in two writers' groups. It has been a great experience so far.
I would be remiss to not say anything about my engineering career. After college, I worked on clutch hydraulics, but the last twenty-five years have been spent on electric powered steering. The skills I learned through drawing, graphic design, and visualizing objects in three dimensions, have helped my career immensely; sketching out ideas on paper or PowerPoint, making diagrams, flowcharts, and graphs, creating attractive presentations, etc. And engineering has given me confidence in problem solving, managing teams and projects, better written and verbal communication skills, simplifying complex topics, comfort in speaking with groups of people, competence in MS Office apps, and working with a diverse and global group of people.
There is always something to learn, and I look forward to what comes next!
- SCBWI Michigan
- Thomson-Shore Publishing
- University of Michigan - Spanish Department
- Latino Health Communications
- Beaumont Foundation
- Global Design
- Inner Circle Media
- Color Hive
- Huron Pet Supply, Inc.
- Biker Bob's Motown Harley-Davidson
- Powerhaus Creative
- Eventures - Adventures In Advertising
- The Ann Arbor Ad Club
- The Big Idea Magazine
SCBWI Michigan interviewed me for their blog, The Mitten.
Q: Why is your website called Big Tall Ken?
A: A friend of mine calls me that because I'm 6'7" tall. I thought it sounded like a good website name.
Q: Did you play basketball?
A: Yes, I played basketball but only for the junior high and high school teams. I played for fun after that until an Achilles tendon injury ended my playing days.
You can email me at
Ken [at] BigTallKen [dot] com