The gifts I’ve received in the publishing process for Finding Myself in Britain have been breathtaking. Such as how the cover came about – I share the story of finding our designer, Vivian Hansen, in part one of this series. Only when I received Vivian’s email as she responded to my questions did I learn that she and I share our Christian faith – and a love of travel. How amazing to connect with this talented young artist! Read to the bottom of the post to see how to get in contact with her (especially if you’re involved in publishing) and to see more of her varied art – she works with oils, watercolors, sketching with pencil and others. In her words:
I have been drawing as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I wrote and illustrated many stories, always loving how people would react and engage with the little worlds I created. I later enjoyed it as a kind of escape, much like reading a book. But to be honest, it wasn’t until I was about 17 that I realized I had a particular talent in art. I had a deep wanderlust throughout my youth (fueled by the mountains of books I lived inside of), which eventually led me to leave my tiny country town in southern Mississippi and go to live with a family in Ireland. It didn’t take long for the art professor there to find me drawing, and he invited me into his art class – the first I’d ever been in. He taught me the basics, and I delved into a whole universe that had been waiting for me. By the time I graduated, my mind was set on pursuing a creative career. It has been a long and winding road, but I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to study illustration.
I was finishing up my last bit of art school when I found the contest for your book cover design. A friend of mine told me about the site, so I took a look around. Contest sites typically have a shady reputation in the professional art community for taking advantage of artists, and even reputable sites like 99Designs should be approached with caution. But as soon as I read the brief for Finding Myself in Britain, I had a rush of ideas. I picked up a pencil and started sketching. It’s a big risk to spend a great deal of time and effort on work that may not be fruitful, so I approached it with the idea of using it as a creative exercise. The brief was inspiring for me as a traveler, a bibliophile, a Christian, and a designer who likes a good challenge. It was clear that you were looking for something different, so I was happy to oblige!
I was really surprised and delighted to learn that I’d won the contest! I called my mom right away and told some of my classmates, including the one who had introduced me to the site. I’ve had my work published in small things before, but this was going to be the most widely published work of mine to date. Most of all, I was so grateful for the opportunity to use my God-given talents on a faith based project. What a joy it is to use the talent and opportunity I’ve been blessed with to do the Lord’s work! I hope to contribute again to Christian publishing and continue to be a vessel for His work.
My first thoughts when I started sketching were about focusing on a more conceptual design than a decorative one. Book covers featuring original artwork in a clever way stand out in a sea of stock images, so I knew I wanted a strong image with meaning. At first I considered what it feels like to be “different” while in another country and how I might represent that in a unique way. I ended up with a drawing of a sunflower growing from a rose bush; the flower clearly isn’t native to that plot, but it stands out in a bright, bold, happy way. Other ideas centered around place. One that I was fond of featured lots of different shapes and styles of windows you might see around the world, with a little cartoon Amy perched happily in a window resembling a stone church.
In the end, I was most drawn to a very simple but iconic image of a teapot with an American flag motif pouring Amy into a teacup decorated with the British flag. I think it presents the idea of instant immersion, maybe even culture shock, but in a funny, positive way (especially with help of the bright, playful colors). I hope it will draw readers in enough for them to read the back and discover what it’s all about – and from there, I’m sure they’ll be hooked!
Literature and travel are still a big part of my life. I’m a big dreamer and adventurer, and it directly affects and inspires my work. I graduated at the end of summer and started making plans for my next journey, which has brought me to Spain. I travel cheaply by flying stand-by and finding unique accommodation; this time, I’m working part-time at the front desk of a hostel in Madrid in exchange for room and partial board. It’s an amazing way to get to know a place in a real way. After two months of travel, I’ll return to the U.S. for Thanksgiving and then pack my bags again for Costa Rica, where I’ll be visiting my boyfriend’s family for the first time. Each place I visit is full of treasures for the eye as well as stories to take with me. I have lived in Ireland, Japan, France, and now for a while in Spain, and each place leaves a huge mark on me. I change and grow a bit each time and share my own stories, culture, and experiences with the people I meet.
By the start of 2016 I hope to start campaigning for greater amounts of freelance work. Where will I be? I have no idea. That’s the beauty of it. I’m at a peculiar time in my life that allows for these opportunities and, while I look forward to someday building my own family and having a place I call home, for now I am thankful for the chance to see the world and share it with others through my stories and art works.
How can people connect with me? When I am based in the U.S., I open up my Etsy shop to sell prints of my work and occasionally original art work and other handmade things, and in early 2016 I will launch a Kickstarter campaign to get my children’s book published. I also have my website, a Facebook page and an Instagram account where I post things I’m working on currently, including my travel drawings. The best thing about being an artist is simply sharing my work with others, so I am glad for any platform I can use to connect with people!