Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Do you know the watermelon man?

Philadelphia artist Greg Pizzoli is releasing his first children's story, "The Watermelon Seed" - a book he wrote and illustrated that's good enough to eat.

Do you know the watermelon man?

The Watermelon Seed is Greg Pizzoli’s first published book, ever. The 30-year-old Philadelphia illustrator and screen printer has spent the last decade or so perfecting his craft to get to the point where Disney*Hyperion offered him a book deal.

The Watermelon Seed is a story of children's folklore: When one swallows a seed, they are doomed to transform into the fruit it once came from. Pizzoli's tale chronicles a cute little crocodile that loves watermelon so much he eats it around the clock. The joy of devouring a juicy piece of melon is a sensory-filled experience—just imagine what it was like the first time you had watermelon: It was vibrant, sweet and it literally melted in your mouth. The tale takes a turn for the worse when our leading green friend swallows a seed from his beloved fruit. What will become of him next can only be found out by reading the book.

Pizzoli has been featured in Communication Arts, won two Portfolio Honor Awards from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and has had countless shows all over the world. In addition to the The Watermelon Seed, he also has three books coming out next year and even more scoped out for the future. Oh, and when he has a moment to breath he teaches screen printing classes. Pretty impressive for someone who went to school for English Literature, but who says your college major means anything anymore?

Greg did actually end up perusing continued-education as a grad student for Book Arts & Printmaking at the University of the Arts. Before he made this personal interest discovery, he was pretty shy about sharing his creations. “I always drew as a kid, and made up stories and I have books I made when I was little; but I was always too intimidated to take art classes,” says Greg.

As a child who loved to read, Greg was really fascinated with the work of Roald Dahl, the best-selling children’s author known for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, BFG and Matilda. “I love all his stuff, but my favorite was The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. It’s about a guy who trains himself to see through objects, like playing cards, and starts going to casinos. It’s amazing.”

The whimsical child-like illustration styles of legends Richard Scarry, Maurice Sendak and others have attributed to Greg’s own personal style. He also credits his present-day influence to poster and visual artists James Quigley (Gunsho), Seripop and Zeloot—all of which are highly respected names in the design world.

Greg’s new book is an ode to everyone's childhood, including his own. We all have fears, fears that aren't necessarily real. We face them, we conquer and we come out stronger and better for it. His own personal story is a great example of conquering your fears and gaining success. The Watermelon Seed is a learnt lesson for both the young and old; overcoming an invisible fear is one of life’s greatest achievements. To top it off, this book is good enough to eat.

To celebrate the launch of Greg Pizzoli’s book, The Print Center will be hosting The Watermelon Seed release party this Saturday, May 4 from 3 - 6 pm. There will be live letter pressing, fun games & activities and watermelon themed treats! Books will be available for purchase before they hit store shelves, and Greg will be at the event ready to sign your pages! For those of age, limited quantities of 21st Amendment’s Hell or Highwater Watermelon beer. For information on the event, visit this link.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering The Watermelon Seed, before it’s release on May 14, you can order it on Amazon or order it from the Print Center to receive a limited edition screen print (which you can pick up at the event or have shipped).

Gabrielle Bonghi Philly.com
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Art Attack is a partnership with Drexel University and is supported by a grant from the Knight/NEA Community Arts Journalism Challenge, administered by the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.

Gabrielle Bonghi Philly.com
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