- Virginia Johnson
Two-time Caldecott medalist Nonny Hogrogrian grew up in a stone house in the Bronx, New York which had belonged to her family for three generations. She came from a hard-working and artistic family with strong Armenian roots. When very young she would settle into a big chair in the home library and page through books of beautifully illustrated children’s stories dreaming about one day drawing such pictures herself.
While growing up, she drew on every opportunity to learn more about illustration. She studied painting and charcoal drawing with an aunt who had studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. She took an illustration class for young people at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She kept at her craft, supplying her high school magazine with scratchboard illustrations and hand-painting greeting cards for stores on Fifth Avenue. She spent her first years out of college working with book design teams in major New York publishing houses and went on to illustrate award-winning books herself.
Born: May 7, 1932, in New York, New York
Attended: Hunter College, graduating with a major in art and minor in art history
First job out of college: designer and office worker for publisher William Morrow and Company
First illustrated book: King of the Kerry Fair, by Nicolette Meredith (1960)
Caldecott Medals: Always Room for One More (1966) and One Fine Day (1972)
Caldecott Honor: The Contest (1977)
Married to: poet, writer and fellow Armenian-American David Kherdian since 1971. They have collaborated on many projects
Recent work: Cool Cat (9/2009) and Come Back, Moon, with David Kherdian (2013)
Contact: Nonny Hogrogian--c/o Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Nonny Hogrogian has illustrated dozens of books and written a good number herself. Many of them are retold folktales such as those she loved as a child. Always, the story comes first. She studies the story to understand its setting and its own rhythm and works closely with the writer to make sure she is giving the story the setting it needs. One book might call for woodcut illustrations while another might be better with a watercolor technique.
The same year she won her first Caldecott, she wrote a piece for Publisher’s Weekly* that gave a lot of insight into her artistic process. Among the reasons she gave for staying in the field—as she has for 44 more years—are these:
“I like the integrity an artist can retain in this field. I enjoy the uniqueness of each manuscript, both for itself and for the chance that it gives me to explore new techniques."
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