Russ Cox was born and raised in Tennessee, lived in Pennsylvania for many years, and now lives in Maine. He started drawing as a child and, in high school, developed an interest in graphic design and music. He has created illustrations and/or design for such clients as Hershey, Kellogg's, Leap Frog, McDonalds, Warner Brothers, and other. He wrote and illustrated Faraway Friends, and has illustrated numerous books, including the Freddy the Frogcaster books, Major Manners Nite Nite Soldier, Merry Moosey Christmas, and Whatever Says Mark.
Russ has his own studio, Smiling Otis Studio, in Pittsfield, where he specializes in illustration for the children's market and children's books. His primary tools for illustrations are his sketchbooks, pencils, paper, Mac computer, and software such as Painter, Photoshop, and Manga Studio.
According to Russ: When not drawing, running amok in the snow, or training our four cats to yodel Slim Whitman's greatest hits, I enjoy some quiet time with my banjo while taking in the beauty of Maine.
For more about Russ, visit his website at: www.smilingotis.com.
March 2020: Gouache workshops at Princeton, Woodland and Whiting
April 2020: Faraway Friends at Beals and Jonesport
October 2019: Charlotte, Pembroke and Trenton
April 11, 2018: Edmunds Consolidated School
April 10, 2018: Ella Lewis School, Steuben
April 25-26, 2017: North Haven Community School, Vinalhaven School
November 9-10, 2016: Princeton Elementary School and Beatrice Rafferty Elementary School
IRW creates activity sheets to supplement the books we bring to life in the classroom, and provide these sheets to teachers and students to use in preparation for their school visit. Here is a link for activity sheets based on Russ's work.