Laurie Smollett Kutscera’s passion for children’s book illustration and writing began at an early age. Childhood memories of The Little Prince, the Peter Rabbit series, and Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s intricate pen work in Snow White, transported her to another world. Today, Laurie continues to work towards creating that magic and spirit in her own work.
Born in NYC, Laurie lived in Greenwich Village before moving to Queens as a young child. She graduated Queens College, where she studied fine art, calligraphy and children’s book illustration—mentoring under Professor Marvin Bileck, Caldecott recipient for Rain Makes Apple Sauce. Professor Bileck’s spirit and passion for the art of the book—and masters Rembrandt and Durer, became a foundation and constant source of inspiration.
Upon graduation, Laurie became a graphic designer and illustrator in the field of publishing and the performing arts for clients including; Simon and Schuster, MacMillan, The New York Philharmonic, Columbia Artists Management, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Children’s Opera of NY. She also took great pleasure in designing dolls, stuffed animals and an unusual array of critters for the toy industry.
When dear friends Marietta Abrams and Peter Brill sat around a campfire one evening while on their honeymoon in the southwest, they spun a tale about a young girl named Ravita, and asked Laurie to illustrate it. Enamored by this beautiful story, Laurie chose the earthiness of pastel on black charcoal paper to convey the rich texture of Ravita’s world and the rituals of her cliff dwelling tribe. A year (and several queries later), Ravita and the Land of Unknown Shadows, was published by Rizzoli/ Universe Publishers.)
Laurie has cruised the eastern seaboard from Nantucket to the Virgin Islands. It was then she began to write as a way to chronicle the ever-changing landscape. She continues to write and is currently working on several projects including a middle grade adventure for ages 8-11, as well as a several contemporary picture books for younger audiences. Her debut middle-grade novel, “The Misadventures of A Magician’s Son” is scheduled to be released in early 2019.
She lives on the north shore of Long Island with her husband and very loyal rescue doggie, Cody. She is a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), Julie Hedlund’s 12 x 12 Picture Book Challenge and The Children’s Book Academy, and continues to attend workshops and conferences for both writing and illustration.