Practice Makes Progress: Mike Boldt's Journey from Classroom Doodles to Award-winning Author
Mike Boldt is an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books, with more than 20 titles to his name. But before he knew he wanted to be an author, before he even knew a career as an artist and storyteller was possible, he was just a student at Elk Island Public Schools (EIPS) who loved to draw.
When Mike and his family moved to Strathcona County when he was in Grade 3, he was already fascinated with drawing. But when guest speaker and children’s author Martyn Godfrey came to visit his school, Mike started to think about his drawings in a different way. “Martyn gave one of the most amazing presentations you could ask for as a kid,” Mike says. “He had this long, crazy hair and a great sense of humour that instantly connected with us. Meeting him wasn’t what sparked my interest in storytelling, but it was the first time I was able to see it as a viable career.”
Mike remembers having a lot of great teachers who impacted his life in different ways, but some of the most valuable experiences were the times his teachers would encourage him to follow his own path. “Karen Lundin, my high school art teacher, could see I was more into comic books than traditional art, so she let me interpret class projects around my interests,” says Mike. “I was still learning those fundamentals, but she let me express them through comics rather than more traditional forms. She saw my passion and encouraged me to develop it.”
Mike made his way into the publishing industry not long after he graduated from Bev Facey Community High in 1997, and he's enjoyed much success over the years. But his connection with EIPS remains strong, as he’s become a frequent guest at the Division’s annual Young Authors’ Conference, where he passes along some lessons to the next generation of young storytellers.
“I wanted to attend the Young Authors’ Conference so badly when I was a student, but I was never selected to go,” Mike says. “Now I finally get to attend as an adult. I like to tell students, ‘practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes progress.’ I’ve been writing and drawing for a long time, and my work still isn’t perfect. When you measure your work against the work of others, you see all the ways you’re not perfect. I try to show them they only need to measure themselves against their last attempt. When we do that, we see that we’re improving all the time.”
Mike is the perfect example of this mindset. He jokes that it took him a bit longer than most elementary students to finally get accepted to attend the Young Authors' Conference, but he finally made it there in the end.