Noah  Woods
December 2011
Simms Taback
Although I've known for quite some time that Simms wasn’t doing well, it’s still incredibly hard to hear of his passing. You know when an artist has truly made an impact on you when you remember exactly the first time you laid eyes on their work and felt your heart race an extra beat.
Simms Taback...
Rizzoli's Book Store...
West 57th Street...
Steve Brodner’s wonderful, earlier post was perfect—and I totally agree, Steve—above all else—Simms was a mensch of the highest order. 
Several years back I had the honor of doing a book signing with Simms and we hit it off immediately. This was one of those particular times where meeting one of my art heroes did not dissappoint.  His mensch-ness was apparent from the very start and he seemed to remind me of my own menschy father—including the occasional Yiddish word thrown in—which thankfully I understood for the most part.  For someone with such a MAJOR contribution to illustration—as an artist and as an activist who fought for our rights as illustrators—not to mention someone who could boast of two—count ‘em TWO—Caldecotts—this was a man void of any trace of pretention or Texas-sized ego.  Simms was just a very sweet, sweet man who happened to inspire not only with his art, but also with an authentic, endearing kindness.
After having the amazing treat of having Simms art direct me for the cover of the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook a few years ago, I received a call this past year from one of Simms’ longtime publishers and collaborators, Harriet Ziefert.  A while back, Simms had drawn up some wonderful roughs for a new foldout book to be called “Robin, Where Are You?”—but he wasn’t doing well enough to eventually take the roughs to a finish—so with Simms' Mt. Olympus-like blessing—his ideas and his roughs were passed along over to me.  Again, Simms’ extraordinary kindness, trust and lack of ego came shining through as I was encouraged to put my own spin on his initial ideas.  As I mentioned on a post earlier this year, “Robin, Where Are You?” will finally come out April 2012, but more importantly—I'm thrilled that just a couple months ago, Simms not only received a pdf of the finished book, I'm thankful he learned that the book was dedicated in his honor. Just a month and a half ago, Simms sent me an incredibly sweet note once again giving me his blessings and approval of the finished product—but in the very same note, right up to the end—Simms was still concerned about illustrators’ rights, asking me point blank if I was treated well by his publisher and if the contract was good.  I was truly touched and amazed at his spirit and concern.
If you never had the treat of meeting Simms, I can’t emphasize enough what an extraordinary, incredibly kind, sweet, generous, gentle and inspiring giant of a man Simms truly was. 
Here are some of Simms’ early sketches for the book.  The joy, sweetness and lightness—not to mention—the gorgeous, deceptive simplicity is all there...
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Woods is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!