Gerald McDermott was born January 31, 1941 in Detroit, Michigan. He began studying art when he was admitted to a class at one of the nation's finest museums, the Detroit Institute of Arts, when he was just four years old. He continued pursuing his passion for art at Cass Tech, a public high school for the gifted. Upon graduation, McDermott was awarded a National Scholastic scholarship to New York's Pratt Institute. He took a leave of absence during his junior year to become the first graphic designer for Channel 13, New York's educational television station, the year it went on the air. He also designed and directed his first animated film, The Stonecutter. McDermott then toured Europe, visiting and exchanging ideas with filmmakers in England, France, and Yugoslavia. He returned to Pratt to finish his degree in 1964 and began producing and directing a series of animated films on folklore. It was then that he met Joseph Campbell, who served as the consultant on four of McDermott's films. McDermott then began to adapt his films into picture books. His first book, Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti, was named a Caldecott Honor Book. He followed that with Arrow to the Sun: A Tale from the Pueblo, which won the Caldecott Medal, and Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest, another Caldecott Honor Book. McDermott's book, Musicians of the Sun, a parable of the artist's journey based on an Aztec myth, has brought recognition from the American Orff-Schulwerk Organization, a national organization of music and movement educators. McDermott was recently named Charter Member of the AOSA National Advocacy Council. In addition to being the first Fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, McDermott is also a leader at "A Mythological Toolbox", a workshop at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.