Wednesday, January 31, 2018

My First School Visit, by Mike Ciccotello

A few years ago I was contacted by the principal of Mary Roberts Elementary. He was inquiring about a mural I did at a local kids hair salon, Hair for Kids. After some discussion, and decision making, and maybe some more discussion, I was hired to create a mural at his school. I finished the painting over a few days. On the last day I spent some time talking with the kids about art. 

This is the mural I created a few years ago.

Last year, the same principal reached out to me. He noticed new art I was posting on my social media feeds. He asked if I was working on picture books and was curious if I would come to the school to speak with the children. I said sure, but there's one problem, I don't have a published book. He didn't think that mattered. He believed I had a compelling story and the students would be interested to see how much work goes into writing and illustrating. WE HAD SO MUCH FUN!

I'm sketching a pig wearing a top hat.

As the children filtered in and took their seats, I did some devil stick juggling. I dropped the juggling stick a few times. Each time, I asked the students what I should do. They immediately responded, "PICK IT UP!" I showed them a few different ways to pick it up. You could use your hands, or the other sticks, or even your feet. They got a real kick out of it.

I'm trying to figure out how the pig's ears would look with the top hat.

Then we talked about illustration and how many mistakes I make. I make a lot of mistakes. Well, when you make a mistake, you need to try again – just like juggling. Nothing comes out perfect the first time you do it. You need to keep working at it every day. The example I gave was a drawing I worked on for over a month. I had a bunch of help form my artist (critique) friends. Through thoughtful critique, I was able to solve multiple problems and finish my illustration.

Talking about my book dummy

After the illustration talk, we read one of my picture book dummies. We spoke about the characters and the problem they had. We tried to find similarities in the children's experiences. They pointed out so many fun things. Then we spoke about submitting a book to a publisher and how much work goes into a story before it gets sent. They couldn't believe it.

It was such a wonderful day. I learned a lot about myself, and hopefully made an impression on some of those kiddos. I can't wait to do it all again.

Represented by Rachel Orr
For more info contact 

Twitter: @ciccotello 
Instagram: @ciccotello 


  1. The Principle was right -you have a compelling story/ program. Sounds like the kids had a real treat.

  2. Mike, to me this sounds like you taught those kids (and yourself) invaluable lessons! That principal must be a REALLY remarkable one. He saw what you had to offer and from reading this (and knowing you) I wish I could've been there! I want to know when you do it again :D :D :D