dave szalay design + illustration

It was a brisk fall Ohio morning in 1970-something. My little classmates and I were led down a winding flight of stairs to a cozy little room in Rimer Elementary school for weekly story time. Mrs Shaffer, our librarian picked out a book to read each week. She began each session by holding up the cover, announcing the title, making mention of the author and then she began to read. I could tell by the cover that this was going to be a good one! Her kind voice was comforting and she would pause periodically to turn the book around and show us pictures. The first few were small, and the words were few, but both grew with the turn of every page. And so did the forest in Max's room, and I could hardly wait to see what was next! I wanted Mrs. Shaffer to slow down because I needed more time to stare and sink into the pictures. I checked the book out every time it was available for the rest of the school year. I wished I could have a wolf suit. Ironically, I never owned a copy of the book that probably made the biggest impact on me until my wife bought me a copy for my 42nd birthday. I did have a large built in book shelf in my bedroom and it was packed with great mid-century storybooks.


After 20 successful years in visual communications my career opportunities offered a new chapter and I began teaching design courses. This was the ideal time to revisit my first passion, illustration. With an MA in Communications in hand I continued on for an MFA in Illustration. This was an investment in me. It was to reignite that old flame, one that I ignored for far too long. I've since immersed myself into teaching and illustrating, with a side order of occasional graphic design.


My wife and my two adult sons lovingly support my crazy ambitions. I am inspired by many things such as life experiences, observation, the outdoors, animals, kids, and the tradition of storytelling. I'm contributing and participating in the most authentic way I can. I'm having fun and I think I'm starting to get the hang of this thing!


I work out of my home studio located on a few acres along a steam that runs through the nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We, along with our two cats, enjoy the tranquility and all the wildlife that roam near our little house in the woods.




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