Carson Ellis

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Carson Ellis
Carson Ellis and Colin Meloy signing Wildwood in Portland.jpg
Ellis with Colin Meloy
Born (1975-10-05) October 5, 1975 (age 43)
EducationUniversity of Montana
Known forPainting, Drawing, Printmaking
Spouse(s)Colin Meloy

Carson Friedman Ellis (born October 5, 1975) is an American artist known for her children's book illustrations and her album art. She received a Caldecott Honor for Du Iz Tak? (2016).


Ellis is an award-winning illustrator of several children's books, including the New York Times bestsellers Wildwood, written by Colin Meloy,[1] The Composer is Dead, written by Lemony Snicket,[2] and The Mysterious Benedict Society, written by Trenton Lee Stewart.[3] She received a 2010 Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for her art in Dillweed's Revenge, by Florence Parry Heide.[4] She collaborated again with Meloy on the second and third novels in the Wildwood Chronicles series, Under Wildwood (2012)[5] and Wildwood Imperium (2014).[6]

Before transitioning to a career in illustration and drawing, Ellis studied painting at the University of Montana.[7] She began her career as a fine artist in San Francisco and exhibited a solo show of oil paintings at a gallery in San Jose, California.[8] Her first illustration work began when she met Colin Meloy at the University of Montana and designed gig posters for his college band Tarkio.[7]

She is also well known for her work with the indie folk rock band The Decemberists,[9] for whom she has created album art, T-shirts, websites, posters, and stage sets. Her album covers for the Decemberists include What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World[10], The Crane Wife, Her Majesty the Decemberists, Castaways and Cutouts, The Hazards of Love, and the EPs 5 Songs and The Tain. She has also created album artwork for other musicians, such as Laura Veirs, Beat Circus, and Weezer.

The Wildwood Chronicles series, written by her husband, musician Colin Meloy, was a bestselling series for middle-grade readers.[11] Ellis was inspired by illustrator Pauline Baynes of The Chronicles of Narnia as well as drawings in The Wind in the Willows when she created the Wildwood series.[9]

In 2015, Ellis wrote and illustrated her first solo children's book, Home, which explores different types of domiciles around the world, underwater, and in space.[8]

In 2016, Ellis collaborated with Portland-based wallpaper studio, Juju Papers, on a wallpaper design titled Barn Owls and Hollyhocks. The design was inspired by Ellis' move to a small barn outside of Portland[12]

List of works[edit]

As author and illustrator[edit]

  • Home (Candlewick Press, 24 February 2015)
  • Du Iz Tak (Candlewick Press, 18 October 2016)

As illustrator only[edit]

  • The Mysterious Benedict Society series, written by Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown)
    • The Mysterious Benedict Society (1 April 2008)
    • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (1 May 2008)
    • The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma (6 October 2009)
    • Mr. Benedict's Book of Perplexing Puzzles, Elusive Enigmas, and Curious Conundrums (11 October 2011)
    • The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict (10 April 2012)
  • The Wildwood Chronicles series, written by Colin Meloy (Balzer + Bray, a HarperCollins imprint)
  • The Composer Is Dead, written by Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins, 3 March 2009)
  • The Beautiful Stories of Life, written by Cynthia Rylant (Harcourt Children's, 4 May 2009)
  • Stagecoach Sal, written by Deborah Hopkinson (Hyperion, 4 September 2009)
  • Dillweed's Revenge, written by Florence Parry Heide (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 6 September 2010)

Personal life[edit]

Carson Ellis is married to Decemberists singer Colin Meloy, whom she met as a college roommate creating posters for his alt-country band Tarkio. She and Meloy have two children, Henry "Hank" Meloy and Milo Cannonball Meloy.[13] Both parents have spoken openly about their son Hank's diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome.[11] Ellis has also made and continues to make all of the album artwork for her husband's current band, The Decemberists.

She lives in Portland, Oregon.


  1. ^ "Best Sellers: Children's Chapter Books". The New York Times. September 18, 2011. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
  2. ^ Dixler, Elsa (April 5, 2009). "Best Sellers: Children's Picture Books". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  3. ^ "Children's Books". The New York Times. August 10, 2008. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  4. ^ "Dillweed's Revenge: A Deadly Dose of Magic". Society of Illustrators. Retrieved 2013-10-19.
  5. ^ Meloy, Colin; Ellis, Carson (2012-01-01). Under Wildwood. The Wildwood chronicles (1st ed.). New York: Balzer + Bray. ISBN 9780062024718.
  6. ^ Meloy, Colin; Ellis, Carson (2014-01-01). Wildwood imperium. The Wildwood chronicles (First ed.). New York, NY: Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 9780062024749.
  7. ^ a b "Carson Ellis on The Decemberists: "I really did get sick to my stomach when I heard that line"". Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  8. ^ a b "Carson Ellis finds 'Home' with new children's book, art for the Decemberists". Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  9. ^ a b Ruggieri, Melissa (September 1, 2011). "Q&A Colin Meloy, author, and Carson Ellis, illustrator: Book 'was a true collaboration': Pair to address festival, talk about importance of storytelling". Atlanta Journal-Constitution – via ProQuest News & Newspapers.
  10. ^ "WORK". Carson Ellis. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  11. ^ a b Heyman, Stephen (2011-10-11). "'Wildwood,' a Book by the Decemberists' Colin Meloy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  12. ^ "JUJU PAPERS X CARSON ELLIS – NEW ARTISANAL WALLPAPERS". Juju Papers. February 23, 2016. Archived from the original on February 29, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  13. ^ Meloy, Colin (March 15, 2013). "Meloy tweets about new addition to the Ellis & Meloy family". Twitter. Retrieved October 21, 2013.

External links[edit]