Brett Helquist:Mormon Artist
Brett Helquist is a painter and illustrator widely known for his illustrations in the popular A Series of Unfortunate Events books. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Helquist was born in Gonado, Arizona in 1966. He was reared in New Mexico and Orem, Utah. He loved to read the daily newspaper comic strips when he was a kid. He especially enjoyed Alley Oop and he dreamed about drawing his own comic strip. His mother enrolled him in an art class at a local art supply store. He eventually dropped out of it and didn’t do anything with art until college.
While serving a full-time mission in Hong Kong, he fell in love with Chinese brush painting and picked up a brush again.
Helquist studied engineering at Brigham Young University but took some elective painting classes. When he saw student illustrations, he asked questions about the major and found out they offered an accelerated program over the spring and summer terms. He switched majors and graduated with a bachelor’s of fine arts in 1993.
His first job out of college was with the Waterford Institute in Provo, Utah, animating games, which lasted only for a month and a half due to company funding. He moved to New York City for a four-month internship with New York illustrator Robert Neubecker. For about seven years, his freelance work appeared in newspapers and magazines while he worked as a graphic artist at KPMG. When he decided to illustrate children’s books, he took a month off from work to prepare a children’s book portfolio and within about two weeks of showing his portfolio, he was given the chance to illustrate The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. He illustrated all thirteen books in the series.
Since then, he has illustrated dozens of children’s and young adult books, including Chasing Mermeer, Captain Hook: Adventures of a Notorious Youth, Listening for Lions, and The Spoon in the Bathroom Wall. He has illustrated other series, such as the Vengekeep Prophecies and The League of Seven. He has also written and illustrated a few books, including Roger, the Jolly Pirate, Bedtime for Bear, and Grumpy Goat.
Helquist, his wife, Mary Jane Callister, and their children live in Brooklyn, New York.