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Artist shares passion with Fox Chapel Area elementary students

Jan Pakler | for The Herald
Award winning artist and illustrator Stacy Innerst does a behind the scenes workshop exploring his artistic process with students at Ohara Elementary School.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Illustrator Stacy Innerst told students at O'Hara Elementary last week that you don't have to be a great artist to tell a story.

Instead, he told them to be fearless.

“My main thing is for them to be creative,” said Innerst, an award-winning illustrator whose most recent sketches bring to life a book about England's Fab Four, The Beatles.

“The Beatles, They Were Fab (and They Were Funny),” by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer was released in March.

Innerst visited each of the four Fox Chapel Area elementary schools last week to give students a glimpse at the process of creating a book.

He showed them a series of his drawings, some done on torn denim jeans and skirts — the result which illustrated “Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea,” by Tony Johnston in 2011.

“I like to tell the students to pay attention to things, find life interesting and when it comes time they can retell it through a picture,” said Innerst, a resident of Mt. Lebanon.

Innerst has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators, Print Regional Design Annual and the Society for News Design, among others.

Born in Los Angeles, Innerst studied art and history at the University of New Mexico. With a librarian mother who had a passion for art, his life was immersed in books and drawing from the get-go.

“It was therapeutic,” he said. “If I was feeling good or bad, I'd draw it. If I wanted something, I'd draw it.”

O'Hara librarian Karen Fornari saw the visit as a window into a potential career that children may not be exposed to every day.

“The art is coming alive for them,” she said. “They get to see the process and it might spark an interest in one of them.”

First-grader Ben Demotte was curious about how to generate work. He asked Innerst “How do you get great ideas?”

“You just keep putting them out there,” he said. “When you draw someone's face and change the littlest thing, you change their personality. So keep drawing.”

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at

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