I always wish I could do it all, write, illustrate, publish, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t have the talent for illustrating so I had to set out on a search to find my perfect match. My illustrator soulmate if you will. I did a lot of research and found some illustrators that I liked so I decided to put them all to the test. By put them to the test, I mean I decided that I wanted the main character, Bentley, to be created. In my mind it should be easy because I was supplying images of my furry, not-human best friend Bentley and I wanted my character Bentley to look just like him. Easy right!?!
Well, I reached out 10 different illustrators, sent them all the same messages with the images of my Bentley. Only five of them wrote back, one of them said she didn’t do the watercolor illustrations that I wanted so she wouldn’t be a good fit. I was down to four potential illustrators from my initial finds. I wasn’t concerned because I had already chosen a favorite and she was responsive and was anxious to create the character, but I wanted to still commission all four just to see the differences between the illustrator’s delivery, their communication, professionalism, and ease of workability.
I commissioned the last four artists with the same task and would await their deliveries. The delivery time frames ranged from five hours to three days. I was immediately suspect of the five-hour delivery time because that could mean a lot of different things but kept an open mind throughout the process. As the characters started coming in, I was really appalled. The first one I received, five-hour guy, gave me a dog that looked nothing like my Bentley. I didn’t even bother to ask for any revisions because I knew this was NOT the person that I wanted to bring my characters to life and illustrate my book.
Still baffled by the first delivery, I still had high hopes for my favorite illustrator. The next two trickled in and I did ask for revisions, but they didn’t quite hit the mark. They were doodles but I wanted it to look just like my dog and they didn’t really. They also weren’t as cute as I expected or wanted them to be. One looked more like a superhero which was cute but not the look I wanted/needed for my Adventures with Bentley books, and the other one was just a black & white dog but not much like my real-life Bentley. However, when I received the rough drawing from Eunhye I was blown away.
She was my favorite going into the test and she exceeded my expectations. She was a great communicator and very professional which sealed the deal. Without those two things, no matter how cute and perfect her designs were, it wouldn’t have been a good fit. The only request I had to make was for her to add Bentley’s collar to her drawing. He doesn’t wear it all the time because his fluffy fur gets matted underneath it, but I wanted it as part of his character. She made the adjustment and colored her drawing; it was more than I could have ever expected.
There in front of me was Bentley, my main character in the series of books that I am going to be publishing and changing lives with. It is really hard to put what I was feeling into words. I was elated, excited, speechless, happy, and so many more things. I jumped up and down like a giddy schoolgirl. This was the beginning of my next chapter. The one I have been waiting my entire life to start, I just never even realized it. I am happiest when I can be creative. My imagination is bigger than the universe, I guess this is due in part to being an only child. As an only child I had to be creative because I always played by myself, so it was all up to me to be entertaining and I think that molded my creativity and sharpened my imagination at a really young age.
Now that I had my Bentley character I didn’t want to stop. I was addicted to seeing my visions come to life. I contracted Eunhye to create Betty & Mr. Bee. I gave her some guidelines of what I was looking for and she did the rest. A few days later I received the rough draft of Betty & Mr. Bee. They were perfect. Once the color was added I couldn’t stop looking at them. I had found my illustrator soulmate.
Like I said, I was addicted and wanted to see all the characters in the first book brought to life. Afterall, I needed them for on the website, so I wrote a one sentence bio for each of the remaining twenty-one characters and handed them over. In no time all my characters were alive in front of me. I still can’t believe I found her, my illustrator. I couldn’t wait to get my final edit of my manuscript so we could continue the creative process and illustrate the entire book. While that process would still take a little bit of time, it is finally done and ready to send off to Eunhye. Stay tuned for an interactive book that will not only have kids posing and grinning a little cheesy but adults as well.