A Peek at the Creative Space of Bob Shea

It’s Bob Shea vs. Creative Spaces! (Bob Shea wins.) Bob Shea is the author and illustrator of the popular, very adorable, and much-lauded Dinosaur vs. Bedtime and its recent sequel Dinosaur vs. the PottyIn addition to the Dinosaur books, Bob Shea is the author and illustrator of New Socks; Oh, Daddy!; and Race You to Bed, as well as the author of Big Plans, illustrated by Lane Smith. He’s also the author of one of the funniest website bios I’ve read in a while. (Check it out!)

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime was named one of Amazon’s Top 10  Picture Books of 2008, one of Horn Book magazine’s Best of 2008,
and received several starred reviews including one from
Publisher’s Weekly who wrote,
“Shea (New Socks) makes a hilarious commentator as his hero, a small red dinosaur, elevates everyday encounters into a series of matches worthy of the WWF.” If you know any Dinosaur fans, you can direct them to the new website launched by Disney featuring the dinosaur character.

To learn more about Bob Shea and his books, visit his website (and aforementioned bio) or his YouTube channel where you can view fun videos about his books like this one for New Socks:

My messy corner (not normally this messy!)

Describe your workspace.

For awhile I had a studio in my home. Then my son turned two and wanted to play with me all day. He was pretty cute, so I wanted to play with him too. It wasn’t working out.

I found a small space near my home. It is right downtown, so I can walk to the library and for coffee. It’s also close enough to bike to in the warm weather which is my favorite thing. 

The space itself is a large open space above a wool store. There is plenty of room for my desk, a large work table and my wife’s letterpress. 

It’s really not usually this messy.

Oh, I built these awesome shelves. I’m apparently really crafty and smart. 

Awesome shelves I totally built.

I found them here.

The space is nice and quiet and I can sit and listen to NPR all day when I work.

Describe a typical workday.

Well, I TRY to get up at 5 a.m. and do some writing or sketching. The house is nice and quiet and there are few distractions. 

Where I work in the morning.

Around 7 a.m. I have coffee with my wife and help my son get ready for school. He’s on the bus at 8:30, so I head to the studio after that. Usually I am in by around 9-9:30 a.m.

I work a bit, procrastinate until I hate myself, then work some more. I switch it up from project to project or I get in a rut. I also move around a lot during the day. Sit in different spots, go for walks, that sort of thing. My brain is very stubborn. I have to keep tricking it into giving me anything at all. If I tell it to do something it will flat out refuse.

Oh, and I ichat with my pal Jared Chapman. He’s a fantastic illustrator and super funny.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

The space itself. I am so happy to have a dedicated space to work.

My lounge chair. I found it on ebay and I have written a lot of books sitting in it. Also, I take naps in it a lot. Right around 3 p.m. 

My excellent chair.

My binding machine. I make my own notebooks out of heavy chipboard and copier paper. I go through a ton of them. By making them myself I don’t go broke and I’m not afraid to burn through them.

Magnetic blackboard.

Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.



Note board.

What do you listen to while you work?

Mostly NPR. When it gets too depressing, I listen to KEXP from Seattle.

Oh, and lots of late 80’s dancehall reggae.

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Coffee, water, and pretzels dipped in Nutella. I overdosed on those though. Now the smell makes me ill. I tough it out and eat through the pain.

What keeps you focused while you’re working?

Fear of poverty/failure.

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?

All ways. I use the aforementioned notebooks all the time. I sketch and write and figure out ideas. Then at the very end I’ll hit the computer. I’ve tried a couple chapter books and I went straight to computer, but I don’t enjoy it as much.

How do you develop your ideas? 

Goof around a lot. I also get a lot of inspiration from my son.

What media do you use and which is your favorite?

I use whatever. Lately it’s a lot of brush and ink scanned in to the computer and colored. I use illustrator and photoshop. I’m trying to do more hand stuff to loosen up.

What aspect of illustrating do you find most challenging and why?

Drawing the pictures. Have you tried? It’s hard! Plus everyone else is so good. It’s hard to keep pressing forward.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

I do share my space. My wife is a graphic designer and she recently moved in with me.

Other than that, I dunno, a caveman maybe? It would be cool to meet a caveman. He could teach me survival skills and I could show him celebrity gossip sites.


What is the best piece of writing and/or illustrating advice you’ve heard or received?

The Stephen King book On Writing. It’s fantastic.

In a nutshell: Read a lot. Write a lot. I’ll add, draw a lot.

2 Responses to “A Peek at the Creative Space of Bob Shea”

  1. LadybugSF

    This guy is so hilarious, I must go buy his books. Especially the Dinosaur vs the Potty book. We're getting serious about potty books… this one looks even better than Elmo Goes Potty with flush sound effects. Wow.