Who Is That Guy?

JAN ADKINS is an author, illustrator, designer, storyteller, and explainer. Most of his life he has unraveled snarls, straightened paths, and made a clearer understanding of complex and subtle matters. He has published more than 45 books, many of them non-fiction for young people. He was associate art director for National Geographic Magazine, 1980-88, researching and explaining science, medicine, technology and archaeology to its millions of readers. It was a job described by his editor-in-chief as “getting a doctorate every third month.”  He taught editorial illustration at Rhode Island School of Design and at Maryland Institute College of Art. He has a regular 8 pp feature, “Getting Started In Boats,” in WoodenBoat Magazine and contributes often to several sailing magazines. He’s delighted to be a member of the iNKthink team that produces nonfictionminute.com (quick, check it out!). He’s one of the Eisterhold Associates (Kansas City, MO) designing and producing museum exhibits. A great deal of his satisfaction lies in nurturing and herding his 3 grandchildren in Gainesville, Florida, where he lives, and his 2 grandsons in Washington, DC. He walks, canoes, cycles, sails, and cooks, but his neighbors don’t know exactly what business he’s in. On Friday evenings you will often find him holding forth at an outdoor table with friends at his son-in-law’s Cypress & Grove Brewing Company, his version of Rick’s American Cafe.

NOTE: This website is a continual work-in-progress and will benefit from your suggestions, for which I thank you. But don’t just tell me what I should do; tell me how to do it!

Adkins with his Gainesville grandchildren and co-conspirators: Max, Luc, and Gloria Burger

6 thoughts on “Who Is That Guy?

  1. The Craft of Sail has helped me simplify the complexities of sailing. I bought the first copy in the early ’70s for my Dad for a gift. Dad, an artist as well loved the book. As an animator for Fleischer Bros. starting in 1931 sharpened his ink work. He loved Ink and wash as do I. Like my Dad I also love the sea. My choice rather than to paint it was to sail it. So I have made my life at sea. When I taught sailing, you took away the confusion from the student that thought this was voodoo. I have recommended this book to any student I had that had that desire to sail. When I was in cruising boat sales at a brokerage in Fort Lauderdale I gave this to my clients that bought a boat from me. My current home is a Webbers Cove 34 from East Blue Hill, ME. It was finished in Lighthouse Point, FL in ’68 as a raised pilothouse cockpit motoryacht. Drinks 6, Feeds 4 and Sleeps 2!! My support vessels are a Yankee Doodle Dinghy 7.5 ft sail or row and a Joel White Shearwater 16 row or sail. My homeport is Morehead City, NC at present though I hail from New Haven, CT. I have added several of your books to the library aboard and have given them as gifts to children as well as sailor folk. I had been searching on line for a place of contact beside the mail bouy. All the Best, Rob


    1. Many thanks for your praise. I did Craft of Sail when I was young, at the beginning of my career, and I hope I’ve learned a good deal since then. I have a regular 8 pp feature in WoodenBoat, now, and would love to do more books about the sea. I managed What If You Met a Pirate? a few years ago but the world of nonfiction for young people has changed so radically that no one is commissioning or contracting for books now unless they’re predictably simple, done-on-the-first-read, and fall within specific language boundaries for specific age groups. I love writing books. It’s what I do. But publishing is not a reliable venue, today.
      Again, I’m flattered, and undeterred about communicating our marine heritage to young people. Big task. It would require a dedicated effort from a big maritime industry. Beat the bushes for it, brother.


  2. A comment on the painting on this page of the two Sharpies. Perhaps an Egret. They remind me of Commodore Ralph Munroe and Capt. Nat on Biscayne Bay in the later days of their Sunset and Pleasure.


  3. I was just listening to news on our current energetic flirtation with doomsday, then glanced over my bookshelves of more peaceful and helpful skills. Eyes landed on the tattered jacket of “The Wood Book” and mind landed on the notion that a cordial appreciation of you and your work might be better if not postponed (stretched further on Procrastes bed, so to speak).
    Reading your CV, my image of you as a kind of talented Maine coast wharf rat hermit monk grinned at me like a derisive crow and flew into a treetop laughing. Add that to the list of your works of art and usefulness I feel gratitude for. This includes the way I coil rope for my truck rack.


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