It Takes Two! The art of collaboration

When I wrote my children’s picture book, I had a clear vision of what I would like the illustrations to be—the only problem is, I can’t draw! Not at all. But I was confident I would be able to find someone who could illustrate, and who could bring my characters, setting and storyline to life.

I read dozens and dozens of children’s books to see examples of illustrations and I was blown away at how many artistic styles there are: cartoon, print, woodcut, metal etches, pencil, charcoal, lithography, water color, collage, pen and ink, etc. This was much more complicated than I first thought! I had to imagine what style would be best for my book, and then I had to find the person that illustrates in that format. Luckily, I have a few friends who are artists, and they educated me on the common styles used in illustrations, and also on how these art forms represent the story. I also searched children’s book illustrators to see more examples of different illustrations and how they worked with different storylines. Finally, I asked around and began learning about different illustrators in my area. I reached out to several illustrators and checked out their on-line portfolios.  It was a great way to eliminate styles that didn’t fit my vision, but it was also difficult because I was becoming more and more confused of exactly what my vision was exactly…and when I thought I had nailed it down with an artist, they were unavailable or out of my price range.  But I didn’t give up!

I received an email from a friend who said I should check out the portfolio of a man who is a toy product designer from Newburyport. He has also written several children’s books, and is incredibly creative and unique. As soon as I looked at the first sea animal puzzle he had designed, I was impressed! His illustrations were realistic, but more importantly, they were absolutely adorable!    I just knew that I wanted this man, Peter Zafris, to illustrate my book. His style was what I was searching for, and I felt that he could take my story and rough sketches, and bring the story to life through his imaginative artistry. The book is about celebrating the gift of imagination after all! Peter embodies this ideal and we have collaborated to make the an entertaining children’s book.

I didn’t realize how difficult and complex this new genre would be, but I know that it has a been a pleasure to work with this talented and patient illustrator. Here is an example of how my words and ideas have been transformed into illustrations that I believe capture what I was imagining in my head.

Stay tuned for more about the writing, production and publication of my first children’s book, The Seal With a Pink Bow, expected to be published in early September.  For more information about my children’s book please visit my new website



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