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Kristin Kest (1967–) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Illustrator, Sidelights

Born 1967, in Hershey, PA; Education: Attended Pennsylvania School of the Arts; York College of Pennsylvania, B.A. (fine arts), 2003. Politics: Democrat. Religion: "Atheist." Hobbies and other interests: Landscaping, stained glass, sculpture, woodworking.


Agent—Mela Bolinao, HK Portfolio, 10 E. 29th St., 40-G, New York, NY 10016.


Illustrator and fine artist, 1992–. York Craftsman's Guild, teacher of stained glass classes. Exhibitions: Illustrations represented in annual shows, Society of Illustrators, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2000.


Society of Illustrators.



Sneed B. Collard, III, Do They Scare You? Creepy Creatures, Charlesbridge Publishing (Watertown, MA), 1992, revised edition published as Creepy Creatures, 1997.

George S. Fichter, Bees, Wasps, and Ants, Western Publishing (New York, NY), 1993.

Robert Michael Pyle, Insects, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1993.

Alvin Silverstein, Virginia B. Silverstein, and Robert A. Silverstein, Eagles, Hawks, and Owls, Western Publishing (New York, NY), 1994.

George S. Fichter, Endangered Animals: 140 Species in Full Color, Western Publishing (New York, NY), 1995.

Judith Janda Presnall, Animal Skeletons, F. Watts (New York, NY), 1995.

George S. Fichter, Butterflies and Moths, Western Publishing (New York, NY), 1997.

Deborah Merrians, I Can Read about Spiders, Troll Communications (Mahwah, NJ), 1997.

Alden Kelley, A Tree Is a Home, Creative Teaching Press, 1997.

Kathy Kranking, The Bug Book, Golden Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Barbara Gaines Winkleman, Flying Squirrel at Acorn Place, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 1998.

Merrians, I Can Read about Insects, Troll Communications (Mahwah, NJ), 1999.

Laura Gates Galvin, Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 2000.

Madeleine Dunphy, The Peregrine's Journey: A Story of Migration, Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT), 2000.

Deborah Dennard, Lemur Landing: A Story of a Madagascan Tropical Dry Forest, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 2001.

Deborah Dennard, Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 2002.

Laura Gates Galvin, The Busy Bumblebee, McGraw-Hill (Columbus, OH), 2002.

Vanessa Giancamilli, Gecko Gathering, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 2004.

500 Words to Grow On, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

Katacha Diaz, Badger at Sandy Ridge Road, Soundprints (Norwalk, CT), 2005.

Louise Bonnett-Rampersaud, How Do You Sleep?, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2006.

Several of Kest's books have been published in Spanish translation.


Artist Kristin Kest began her career as a professional book illustrator in 1992 and has since filled the pages of numerous children's books with paintings that reflect her love of nature. Among the many text she has illustrated are Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle and Lemur Landing: A Story of a Madagascan Tropical Dry Forest, both by Deborah Dennard, How Do You Sleep? by Louis Bonnett-Rampersaud, and Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane by Laura Gates Gavin.

Kest's illustrations for Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane depict the travels of one particular bumblebee and the process by which the bee's nest is built. According to Susan Scheps in School Library Journal, Kest's illus-Kest's highly detailed illustrations for books such as Laura Gates Galvin's The Busy Bumblebee helps young readers gain an accurate view of the natural world.trations are "handsome, realistically rendered, double-page paintings that feature larger-than-life insects and flowers." Kest's work in Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle presents readers with "realistic, muted paintings [which] perfectly reflect a typical Southern evening filled with the sounds of frogs and the occasional thunderclap." Lauren Peterson, writing in Booklist, also enthused over Kest's work, noting that Lemur Landing is "superbly illustrated."

Kest told SATA: "While growing up, I always brought home bugs, bones, shells, birds, and occasionally small, furry critters so I could study and draw them (My mom didn't much like the dead crow on the living room floor—but she did like the drawing …).

"I didn't enjoy the narrow experience of art school, but I did meet fellow artist and (now illustrator) Mark Zug, and he taught me what I needed to know about being a great artist. While Mark's influence on my work has always been, and remains, significant, so has been the art of Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth, and Frank Frazetta. One of my favorites, Walter Linsenmaier, has had a great impact on me, actually propelling into insect art in particular.

"Most people ask me how I can create on demand. 'Don't you have to wait for your muse?' The general belief is that the hand of god touches the artist and he/she makes a mad dash to the studio and frantically brush-jousts with a canvas, hopefully capturing the rapture and the moment of the fleeting idea. I don't think it actually works that way. I sit down at my studio table and I work; I've trained my muse to come to me. I truly love what I do.

"I finally got my B.A. in fine art in 2003, fifteen years after I started illustrating. My education at York College of Pennsylvania made it plain to me that an artist doesn't create in a vacuum; an artist really needs to have a very interdisciplinary approach to life—not just literature, history, and poetry but science and mathematics are all important for similar reasons. It might seem safe and cozy enough to concentrate solely on the process of making art, but how does one do that well in an insulated art Bubble? To make the most meaningful art, I think one has to cram one's life full with a wide variety of non-art-related experiences."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, March 1, 2002, Lauren Peterson, review of Lemur Landing: A Story of a Madagascan Tropical Dry Forest, p. 1136.

School Library Journal, March, 2001, Susan Scheps, review of Bumblebee at Apple Tree Lane, p. 208; December, 2002, Susan Oliver, review of Bullfrog at Magnolia Circle, p. 93.


Charlesbridge Publishing Web site, http://www.charlesbridge.com/ (January 30, 2006).

HK Portfolio Web site, http://www.hkportfolio.com/ (January 30, 2006), "Kristin Kest."

Workbook Web site, http://www.workbook.com/ (January 30, 2006), "Kristin Kest."

Additional topics

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