Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Celebrating 10 Years in Publishing!

This fall I have been thinking about the fact that exactly 10 years ago I was working away on my first children's book project "Nathan Hale: Patriot Spy" for Lerner publishing. It is still a very vivid memory for me. At the time I was living alone on Whidbey Island, north of Seattle, commuting by ferry across the water to my old job at Fluke as a technical illustrator. I spent my evenings and long weekends painting my first children's book. Once I finished Nathan Hale I had to immediately jump to another project, coming up with all new paintings for a solo gallery show in Seattle. Maybe it was the stress that makes that time so memorable. Sadly something had to give. Little did I know by the end of that year I would be laid off from Fluke, just six months after moving to the island to be close to my job. It was a life changing event that I was oblivious to while happily painting away on my first book 10 years ago. A lot happened that fall when I turned 30.

At the time the lay off was both very scary and exciting. I was looking for a change but probably not one so dramatic or sudden. A year earlier I had made the decision to pursue work in children's publishing and mailed out my first samples prior to Halloween of 2000. The samples were my version of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". A few months later in February 2001 I received the offer to illustrate the biography on Nathan Hale (thanks Zach!) It was as easy as that! I can still remember hearing that voice mail at work while checking my messages at home. I buzzed with excitement. Today I understand how lucky I was to have that first book offer happen so fast. Illustrators can wait years for that first publishing job. It was a modest project but a foot in the door. I spent the next year attempting to break down that door to publishing even further. I was hooked. In 2002 working full time I illustrated two more books, found some new clients and started teaching my first children's book illustration class. Eventually I did find part time work to help pay the bills. In time I achieved my dream of being a full time freelance illustrator. Now is as good a time as any to celebrate!

It was also 10 years ago that I started dating Jessica, now my wife. I was lucky to find someone willing to stand by me after losing my job so soon after we started dating. It could have been a lonely frustrating time, but together we made it through and created some wonderful memories. Thank you dear for all your help and support.