Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Origin Story

This is the beginning—the beginning and the middle. It's a first time blogging in earnest. (Try to overlook rusty writing skills and disorganized thoughts.) It's the middle of production on a children's picture book. (I'll call it a storybook from here on out, but it is, in fact, a picture book heavy on story.)

These pages will chronicle the completion of that book, a story about a very young detective and his companion who happens to be the family dog. 

I am Otto, the illustrator.

The project is in fact two-fold: 1) print our book and 2) convert that book into an interactive storybook for tablets. If there is a third step it is simply to conquer the world.

I came to this project in May of 2012 with a call or email (I don't remember which) from a friend I met during my Art Institute of Seattle student days, Keith Sjoquist. Over a pitcher of beer at the Wedgwood Alehouse he explained how he and his good buddy Steven had begun writing what they wanted to be an interactive storybook for tablet devices. I knew next to nothing about the medium and what titles were on the market. 

I wondered, was I the right person for this project?

At that time, I had no real experience in creative collaboration. Also, I had no idea if Keith and Steven could write. I knew Keith had a lot of interesting ideas and a capacity to try different things — to think big, to follow his creative whim. He is warm, charming and a natural leader. I could tell he was excited about the kid's book idea. I was wary but curious. He invited me to a meeting about the project at his place. Surely, it would be a fun time. I said yes.

Every other week or so, in a cozy cedar shake shack behind Keith's house, I met with Chad, our graphic designer, and with Steven who I hadn't seen since he roomed with Keith during our AIS years. That was 8 years ago. 

That night Keith and Steven shared what they had in mind for the story and how it would be interactive. I can't remember if they had anything written. The story was still just a seed: a young child detective that tries to solve mysteries despite his lack of experience and reasoning power. The reader would know who-done-it before the detective. The working title of the book was The World's Worst Toddler Detective.

I imagine I was hooked right away. Or maybe I wasn't really hooked until I started designing the characters. This was four years ago, so it's hard to recall. 

So, why is the book not finished yet? -you might ask. It's one of those things. Speaking only for myself, and quite candidly, I have suffered from a severe case of procrastination which stems from a sort of performance anxiety. Sure I have had a lot of things going on in my life and not a ton of free time. I could have done the drawings necessary for this book to be completed several times over if I had been determined and able to conquer my procrastination. 

You might say that it's because of this works importance to me that it has taken so long. It's all about anxiety. The story of me completing this book, (the writing was completed long ago) is going to be about me finishing a big personal project in the face of my anxieties and doubts. Hurrah!

Funny thing... I have gotten divorced, met a new partner and had a baby boy in the last few years. New beginnings! Young Desmond and his mama are my guiding inspiration and motivation to see this dream through. It's too good of a thing to let slip through my fingers. I want the pride and satisfaction of reading this book to my boy.

-- Next entry: The rest of our origin story and why we are focusing on a printed book --