A Short story about EthaN Long
I was born on April 2nd, 1968 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where I spent a large majority of my early years drawing, climbing trees, reading newspaper comics, riding my bike and watching cartoons. We also lived in 4 homes before I started 1st grade and my parents divorced in 1978 when I was 10. In high school, my Dad re-married and we moved to Connecticut. Life was chaotic, to say the least, But through it all, I found joy and comfort in the arts.
After graduation In 1986, my father told me he couldn’t afford to send me to college, so I was forced to pay for it myself. I took my creative talents to Sarasota, Florida to attend Ringling College of Art and Design. Under the creative care of wonderful instructors, most notably Larry Kresek, Regan Dunnick and Patrick Fiore, I became a two-time Society of Illustrator’s NY scholarship winner. I also was a student teacher and head instructor for the youth art program.
After putting myself through college and graduating in 1991 with a 3-year degree in illustration, I began my professional art career. That summer I also married my first wife, Natalie. Coming out of college, I was turned down by Disney, Hallmark, American Greetings and a handful of other companies. While I built up my freelance illustration career, I worked as a picture framer, a UPS truck loader, and helped my uncle build a house. I also taught at Booker High School, a visual and performing arts magnet school, for the 1991-1992 school year. in 1994, my daughter, Katherine, was born. During this time, I taught a summer illustration course at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. Along the way, I managed to scrap together a nice little illustration client list which included The Pennsylvania Lottery, eBay, Chili’s, Planet Hollywood, Houghton Mifflin, Tupperware, AAA, Atlanta Magazine, and Nickelodeon.
In November of 1997, my wife and I divorced, my father had his first heart attack and I was let go from my job at a small design company, all in the same week! During this time, I started working as a textbook designer for Harcourt Brace Publishers (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for their Grade 3 reading program. It was there that I met my current wife, Heather, who was working as a photographer’s stylist at the time.
In 2000, Heather and I married, my dad passed away, I began writing children’s books, and we bought our first home. What an amazing/crazy time it was! Then, the boys came along–Cooper in 2002 and Carson in 2003.
Right around this time, I sold my first original book concept to a publisher and began dabbling in animation. I created a TV series called Farm Force and made a short film which won the Viewer’s Choice Award in the 2005 Nextoons: Nicktoons Film Festival.
Since 2003, I have written and illustrated a ton of children’s books as well as created and executive-produced the Emmy-nominated children’s TV series Tasty Time with ZeFronk which aired on numerous Disney Channels from 2008-2016. I don’t do what I do for the accolades or publicity, but it’s nice to know that the work I’ve done has resonated with others.
I am currently raising two teenagers, working on more original book projects and giving presentations to schools and organizations. I also ride my bike a lot, make home cooked-meals, play with the dog, practice my three-ball juggling and occasionally stare blankly into space.
My goal has always been to strike a balance between family and work life, and for the most part, that has happened. Fortunately, I still find joy in what I do. I am grateful for my family, friends, and special people in my life who have given their love and support so generously.
My family and I live in beautiful & sunny Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.