Nancy Hayashi is the illustrator of many children’s books, including Bunny Bungalow, by Cynthia Rylant, My Two Grandmothers, by Eileen Spinelli, and I Can Do It Myself, by Diane Adams (who happens to be me).
She lives in Los Angeles, but grew up in Bucyrus, Ohio, (don't ask me how to pronounce that - I can't remember), and graduated from Dennison University and The Cleveland Art Institute before beginning her first career as an art director for an advertising company.
In looking back over her high school yearbook recently, Nancy commented that she had written that she wanted to be a children’s book illustrator when she grew up. She has no recollection of writing that, but is glad that her words foretold her future.
Nancy broke into illustration after submitting a book that she had written and illustrated to Harcourt. They did not buy the book, but they did hire her to illustrate Cynthia Rylant's Bunny Bungalow. Not a bad start!
Some of her favorite children’s book illustrators are William Steig, Marc Simont, Marjorie Priceman, and Olof Landstrom. She loves their their mastery with watercolor, (her medium also), as well as their unique senses of humor.
By the end of our short interview, our talk turned to earthquakes, as we both live in Southern California and have experienced recent jolts. Her advice is to lay down next to a large object, such as a bed or couch in order to create a triangle of survival. (This is an update from standing under a door jamb.)
If nothing else, I hope this interview saves some lives, and gives you some talented illustrators to look up on the web.