My career began as a graphic designer. Later I was an art director for an advertising agency. In the mid 1960’s Bill Martin Jr saw an ad of a red lobster that I had designed and asked me to illustrate Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? What an inspiring book! Now the large sheets of paper, the colorful paints and fat brushes of my earlier school came to my mind. I was set on fire! It was possible, after all, to do something special that would show a child the joy to be found in books. This opportunity changed my life.
I found that illustrating alone was not entirely satisfying and wanted to try writing as well. I began to make rough books of my ideas and stored them in a small cardboard box. When I illustrated an historical cookbook, the editor heard about my box of ideas and asked to see them. I submitted 1,2,3 to the Zoo. Then I showed her a story about a worm who ate holes through the pages. Ann Beneduce, my editor, wasn’t so sure about the appeal of worm. “Maybe another creature would be better. How about a caterpillar?” Ann asked. “Butterfly!” I exclaimed. That is how The Very Hungry Caterpillar was born. Almost without trying, I had become an author and illustrator of books for children.