Christy Otto is an Amishman living in the LaGrange-Elkhart County settlement in northern Indiana. He is known for his artwork.
Being an artist and Amish is not the most common combination, but there are more and more people who can describe themselves that way. Christy has become quite well-known in Amish circles for his drawings and paintings.
David Arment, who helped put this Q&A together, can give you a better intro on Christy than I can:
Christy Otto lives on a farm near Topeka, Indiana. Christy and his wife Edna run a green house. This keeps them very busy from about March to July. Christy cuts fire wood, bales hay and paints and draws.
He illustrates for “The Truck Patch News”. This publication takes 12 illustrations each year and turns them into a very popular calendar. Popular among the Amish community that is.
His paintings are also used for calendars. Calendars he and his family assemble in his work space and sell to the small Amish and Mennonite stores that are in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
And Christy’s illustrations are compiled into books. Currently there are two books, with a third due yet in 2022. These books are“cartoonish”. Each cartoon illustration is accompanied by a story. The stories come to Christy in the mail, in envelopes from the Amish community. They tell him about bees, horses, windstorms, falling off a ladder, fishin’, school benches…. If you are “English” you may have to study on a page for a while to figure out what’s going on. And all the animals seem to be smiling.
Win one of Christy’s books
We’re giving away a copy of one of Christy’s books. To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post. I’ll choose a winner at random and post it next week.
A special thanks also to David. To make this happen, I passed the questions on to David, who got them to Christy, who hand-wrote out his answers, which I then typed out here. You might recall a previous Q-&-A with David or his guest posts, like the one on Amish phone shacks. David’s photos of the Amish and other subjects, you’ll find at armentphoto.com.
Q&A with Christy Otto, Amish Artist
Amish America: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Christy Otto: I was born in LaGrange County, Indiana in a family of eight, five boys and three girls. I was the fourth child. We grew up one mile West of the small town of Emma on an 80-acre farm.
How did you get started with drawing?
Christy Otto: I was drawing before I went to school. Had a grandpa that could draw some, he got me interested in art.
How do you get your ideas?
How do I get my ideas? For my cartoons, if something happens in the community that is out-of-the-ordinary, somebody lets me know about it and I sketch it if it was funny or had a happy ending.
What are your favorite things to draw?
My favorite in art is to sketch and paint wildlife or farm life. I paint with acrylics.
Do you have a process or habits that help you draw? Or is it more about feeling inspired or moved to create something?
I get inspired if I see a nice sunset or sunrise or just taking a walk through the woods. Just observing Creation I get inspired.
Any funny or interesting stories you could share?
The first real attempt at drawing, I was maybe in first grade. I had a picture of an Indian on horseback that I wanted to draw. So I got a pencil and paper and stretched out on the living room floor. After I was done, I showed it to Mom and Dad and they said it was really good. Then mom taped it on the wall for all to see. That’s when I decided I will be an artist!
What rewards do you feel it brings you?
The rewards of my art is not measured by money but that people love and appreciate my art, what I love to create.
Why do you think people appreciate your drawings?
I believe people like it if I have art that tells a story, or can relate to the picture.
Where can people find your artwork?
So far I use my paintings for calendars that we put together here at our shop for the last 15 years. I did not sell any of my originals, maybe someday, if people get interested 🙂
How to get Christy’s books
If you’d like to get ahold of Christy’s books, you’ll need to do it the old-fashioned way – either from a local Amish or Mennonite bookstore, or direct from Christy himself (they’re not on Amazon). Here’s the info for that:
6075 S 300 W
Topeka, IN 46571
Include a check… $13 for one book, $25 for two. Free shipping.
Thanks to Christy for sharing this with us!