Salvatore Sciandra has been a member of the WNY Book Arts Center on and off again for almost ten years, actively participating in the book arts community as frequently as possible; attending openings, volunteering as often as he can, selling his personal work at the Book Arts Center, and even entering a dish into the Edible Book Fair. Salvatore’s personal medium of choice is to begin with pen and paper, used for the first passes of his illustrations. From there, his work enters a digital phase where it is scanned into a computer and he is able to clean-up and color his pieces using a Wacom tablet and Photoshop.

I was interested in Salvatore’s ties to the Book Arts Center, how it has inspired him, and how it has affected his art. Salvatore feels that the Book Arts Center is a reminder that there are still local opportunities and places to feature artists and even give them a marketplace to sell their artwork, something which is becoming increasingly difficult for artists of all kinds. He names the Book Arts Center as a sort of personal motivation, because he knows they’ll “always be willing to show [his] stuff.”

When I asked about his pull to comic illustration, Salvatore reflected on this father, who would often take him and his brother to Sunday newsstands to pick out comic books. Salvatore also mentioned the abundance of Richard Scarry books in his household as he grew up; Scarry, who published over 300 books, is often regarded as one of the most successful children’s book authors to date. Many of Scarry’s books focus on anthropomorphic animals, and this is an aspect Salvatore seems to have enjoyed and picked up within his own work. Salvatore is an both an illustrator and author, featuring works such as “The Casebook of Elijah Snugs” and “Impressive Mammals of the African Continent.” 

Salvatore has created quite a few characters in his comics, but his favorites are Snugs and Winston, a snide koala detective and his worrisome pig sidekick. Part of Salvatore’s draw to these characters are their dialogues; Snugs making “some of the most snide comments [he] can think of,” and Winston often uttering things “[he] can hear his fiance saying,” which he promises is not an insult.

I asked Salvatore about his career path as an illustrator; some people always knew what they wanted to be, and I was curious if Salvatore fell into this category. His response?

“There were times I forgot I did, but I’ve always known.”