Tim Bowers is an American illustrator of children’s books, known for his humorous and whimsical characters. Two of his children’s book titles have appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. Bowers has created hundreds of greeting card illustrations, including many top selling cards. Tim is also an award winning Fine Artist, creating finely detailed Miniature Paintings. He and his wife, Keryn, live in Ohio and have four grown children and three grandchildren.
The Whole Story:
Bowers was born in Troy, Ohio where he lived with his parents and younger sister. Both sets of his grandparents lived nearby. His maternal grandparents had a house full of animals, including dogs, cats, an African Grey parrot and a Squirrel monkey named Joe. Their property was also home to a few ponies and many chickens. This early exposure to animals helped to instill a keen interest, and a familiarity with them, that is reflected in Tim’s artwork. During his high school years, Bowers worked for American long distance runner and Olympic gold medalist, Bob Shul, as a salesperson in Shul’s local sporting goods store in Troy. Shul used Tim’s artistic skills to create custom design embroidery logos and character drawings for award plaques when he discovered Bowers to be a much better artist than salesperson. As a high school senior, Bowers received a top award in the Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition. Troy was where Tim Bowers fed his imagination until receiving a scholarship to The Columbus College of Art & Design. For the next four years he studied the art of illustration, during which time he created three paintings that were juried into the Society of Illustrators student scholarship competition. After his third year of college, Bowers was offered a summer internship at the Wanamaker Advertising Art studio in Kettering, Ohio.
The studio job became a full time position for Bowers after graduating from CCAD. Bowers created artwork for companies including: Procter and Gamble, Huffy (bicycles), Wendy’s, NCR, The Cincinnati Enquirer and others. A year later, he left the advertising studio, assembled a portfolio and traveled to New York City. With a list of publisher contacts from The Children’s Book Council, Bowers spent several days showing his artwork to some of the major children’s book publishers in the city. After receiving a lot of encouragement and some suggestions but no actual book assignment, he returned to Ohio.
Bowers continued to work on his portfolio and various free-lance assignments. Tim married and in 1983 moved to Kansas City, Missouri where he accepted a position as a greeting card artist for Hallmark. Bowers spent five years in K.C. and was selected as one of the original artists to work on Hallmark’s Shoebox Greetings, the biggest product line in the company’s history. Also during the five years, Bowers was chosen to participate in an illustration workshop with Thomas B. Allen. In addition to his day job, he worked nights and weekends to complete the illustrations for his first children’s book, The Toy Circus.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich published the first three books illustrated by Bowers. Since then, he has illustrated over forty books and received numerous honors and state awards. The Toy Circus, written by Jan Wahl was the first picture book, illustrated by Bowers. His second book, Pajamas was based on lyrics written by singer-songwriter Livingston Taylor and his wife, Maggie. Bowers would go on to illustrate a series of books about a guinea pig named Little Whistle, written by Newbery Medal winner, Cynthia Rylant and great stories by authors, including Laura Numeroff, Dan Gutman, Andrew Clements, J. Patrick Lewis and others. Two titles have landed on The New York Times Best Seller lists: Dream Big, Little Pig! by U.S. figure skater and Olympic Gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi and Dinosaur Pet* written by multi-Grammy winner Neil Sedaka and his son, Marc Sedaka. In 2010, Bowers illustrated Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, which won the Wanda Gag Award as the nation’s best “read aloud” book. Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band written by Newbery Medal winner, Kwame Alexander was a NAACP Image Award nominee/finalist. A wobbly baseball character was created for Knuckleball Ned, written by baseball’s Cy Young Award winner, R. A. Dickey and Michael Karounos. With his typical humor and fun, Bowers illustrated Not Your Typical Dragon written by Dan Bar-El, which won the 2014-2015 Chocolate Lily Book Award, British Columbia’s readers’ choice selection. That title was also selected to be included in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. Bowers collaborated with Grammy award winning singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins on a children’s book, titled: Footloose*, based on Loggins’ iconic song which was re-written to include a zoo full of dancing animals. (* These books include a music CD in the back cover).