Clarence and The Spoon was born midway through my college experience. It came from, of all things, having to write an Artist Statement. Artist Statements are like mission statements for artists and they are used for galleries, shows, portfolios, or just to help you make sense of what you're doing.
Most artists dread writing Artist Statements. At best they help you to express yourself, and at worst, they are frantic condensations of everything you know about your art-brain into a dozen strange run-on sentences. In reality, working a Statement is a stacked deck scenario whereby you try to find original ways to get around using words like render, capture, express, allude, experience, duality, light, etc.
So there I was in college, sitting and waiting for my Native American History Class to begin, wracking my brain, trying to condense a Statement, and after about ten minutes of freedom scribbling (and my handwriting is unreadable), I had written:
"Pick up that spoon!" shrieked Clarence's mother for the fourteenth time..."
...followed by the first three pages of Clarence and The Spoon verbatim. I didn't know what to make of it at first. "Can I really get away with this as a Statement? Am I Clarence or is this me saying I am more about storytelling than anything else?" In hindsight it was probably a combination of both, but I really wanted to write Clarence out as a bonafide story. I decided I would put it aside and come back to it later, see where it went.
I eventually came up with an Artist Statement that I'm sure was terrible and I've long since forgotten, but when I went back to working on Clarence I almost immediately realized it had to be a kid's book. And not just any kid's book... I wanted it to be an insanely illustrated, exciting, never before seen weird humor explosion, the kind of thing I loved as a kid and still love today. I figured at best, it would be my first "professional" piece of "storytelling," something that I could maybe even one day publish. At worst, it was something that I could use in my post-college portfolio. Besides, how long could it possibly take?