Boundless+Monster+PosterGeorge Sweetland

There were two things artist George Sweetland was sure about when he was growing up – that he wanted to work with kids and that drawing was a huge part of his life.

Sweetland is sharing his artistic gifts with the Hartford Public Library community. He has created a set of cuddly monsters, called the Mammoth Monster Squad, which have taken up residence in the children’s room. The monsters made their first appearance last year as part of a HPL/Boundless science curriculum, serving as the amusing sidekicks to the lessons.

As a kid growing up in Portland, Sweetland watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Thundercats, and He-Man. He liked the old stop-action Sinbad movies. He loved comic books. “With that and the action figures, my imagination was going all the time,” said Sweetland, a 37-year-old third grade teacher at Buckley Elementary School in Manchester.

It was the joyful anarchy of Maurice Sendak’s drawings in “Where The Wild Things Are” that made Sweetland believe that his hobby of drawing fantastical images of monsters could become something more.

He grew up, went to Eastern Connecticut State University, majored in theatre, decided to become an elementary school teacher. Throughout all of it, he never left drawing behind. It was just a matter of how this love was going to manifest itself. “For a long time, I kept my art to myself,” he said.


Sweetland sketched with colored pencils, finding that there were limits to what he could accomplish in that medium. It was only a few years ago, with the development of the Procreate app for IPad that he was able to truly make the art he imagined.

Rest assured, Sweetland’s monsters are far from scary. The line drawings are whimsical and inventive, the personalities of each character leaping off the page. The colors are bright and the overall sensibility is playful.

“I like to play with shapes,” he said. Sweetland’s monsters are often squares or cylindrical with large round eyes. “I want them to look like something that a kid would never be scared to go near, a monster that would be their friend … I hope that (a kid who sees his work) will want to pick up a pencil and draw too.”


Sweetland likes to ground his work in something realistic and introduce the fantastical element as a twist. He grabs the ideas for his work everywhere. The list of mock book covers on his website show the breadth of his imagination – “The Neighborhood Dragon,” “Got Ducks,” and “The Everyday Life of a Superhero.” They might just be covers and ideas now, but Sweetland fully intends to write those stories.

“They come from my head and places I don’t know,” Sweetland said.

Sweetland loves being a third grade teacher – and said that his students are often his best focus group. His long term dream is to be a full time children’s book author and illustrator, yet one more way he believes he can have a positive impact on the lives of children. The path is a difficult one. He has certainly experienced his share of rejection. But he believes that thanks to his immersion in the world of picture books at schools and his own fortitude, the future is bright.

“Things are starting to pick up a bit more for me,” he said. “You have to stay true to yourself and you can’t give up. I took (the rejection) as motivation to keep pushing myself. If I can keep working on this, I’ll find an agent who will believe in my work. If you keep working hard, things will happen.”


There are some nights Sweetland’s wife will call him to bed. It will be about 10:30 or so. He’ll be working, immersed in his drawing, the pen and pencils capturing the visions in his mind, and he’ll assure her he’ll be up in a few minutes. Before he knows it, it’s 1:30 am, the monsters are dancing across the page and Sweetland is happy. “It brings me to a place like nothing else does,” Sweetland said.

For more information about George’s work, visit

By Steve Scarpa, Manager of Communications and Public Relations


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