Please Help Find Bryan Collier’s Missing Artwork!

A piece of Bryan Collier’s artwork of collage and watercolor. This piece is safe and sound, but some of his artwork is out there and would like to find its way back home.

Bryan Collier is missing artwork – last seen 2016 – in a portfolio at Lenox Ave and 138th Street in New York, NY. It is watercolor and collage and though different than from what’s pictured above, it does give you an some general idea of what you’re looking for.

The original artwork is from two of his books Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope and Doo-Wop Pop. His portfolio was inadvertently left on the side of the street and when he went back to get it – it was gone.

I realize it’s a long shot, but I’d like to do what I can to try help him get his artwork back.

I learned about his missing artwork yesterday while I was at the Hubbs Children’s Literature Conference at St. Thomas University (Minneapolis Campus) If you have the opportunity to go next year, please do! It was wonderful. I loved every minute of it.

Bryan Collier was one of the featured speakers at the conference and he was completely fantastic. He’s known and celebrated for his gorgeous and completely awe-inspiring artwork — six Coretta Scott King Awards, four Caldecott honor awards, as well as the Ezra Jack Keats award for best new illustrator. He was also nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his contribution to children’s literature.

Bryan Collier at the Hubbs Children’s Literature Conference 2019. Photo by The Picture Book Review.

But he’s also a fabulous storyteller! His pacing, questions, and use of vocal range while he was talking to the crowd had my full attention and feeling like a little kid. There was one part where he asked the crowd, “What’s in the box?” and I was on the edge of my seat thought-whispering to myself, “I DON’T KNOW!!! WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!?!? TELL ME! TELL ME!” (But I was good and kept that voice inside my head.) So, if you’re looking for a speaker that will have you completely spellbound, I highly recommend Mr. Collier. His talk was completely fantastic in every way.

Then in addition to him being a featured speaker, he led two small-group breakout sessions. In the breakout session I attended, he passed around his artwork and for the first time in my life I got to hold truly amazing artwork in my hands. I got to look at it as closely as I wanted to. (Don’t worry, it was in protective plastic.) I was floored at how different it looked from how it comes across in the picture books (and it’s still stunning in the picture books) — but there are just so many (literal) layers to it that you can only see if you look at it in person. I tried to take pictures so that you can get an idea, but it was unlike any other experience I’ve had with art.

A photo of one of Bryan Collier’s original pieces of artwork. This one is also safe and sound. But look at all the layers and all the details! Isn’t it amazing?

He told us several stories. Stories about how he was rejected for seven years by publishers! Seven years! Then he admitted, “Rejection didn’t matter.” He was going to keep trying until it happened. It’s so hard to believe anyone could reject his artwork ever – but they did – and for seven years. But he’s now been published by (I believe, if I remember and heard correctly) every publisher that rejected him and has now illustrated more than thirty-five picture books.

But one story was very sad. It was about how his artwork was accidentally left at Lenox and 138th three years ago. He tries not to think about it too much and tries to move on from it – but I thought since I had a blog – maybe I could try to send out a message to let others know that some of his beautiful artwork is missing and would love to find its way back to him.

I asked him if it would be okay for me to do this and he said, “Sure!”

So if you’ve seen his original artwork somewhere (and I really hope you have) please contact him.

Thanks so much!

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