Welcome to the deep, dark, long-hidden oldey timey archives of my art...
I threw away most of the art I drew as a kid because I was a perfectionist.
Big mistake. Don't do that.
My first real journal came from my
beloved high school art teacher,
Mrs. Elizabeth McCarthy. I was 15.
I was a normal, angsty teen and I recorded it all in my illustrated journals.
I have hundreds of finished journals today.
I started working as a professional illustrator and designer in the first month of fall term, freshman year at Michigan State University.
I won the grand prize in 5 national essay contests. (also one state prize)
I got a few rejections at first, but I kept trying to improve my work. I'm better at it now.
Tomie looked at my art and said, "Come to New York, to the big SCBWI conference, to learn what you need to get published."
I drew everything I saw and learned.
And I put my 180-page NYC sketchbook
on my website. It went VIRAL.
I got 1000 emails from strangers suggesting
I try writing a book in a journal style.
I took their advice. Just 2 weeks after returning home from NYC in Feb 2005, I had 1000 fans, 100 pages of an illustrated manuscript, and interest from an agent.
My friends and relatives cheered me on.
<--- That's 10-year-old me holding Mini Dragons, a fun, creative, and fairly dangerous toy. Mom says she never bought coloring books -- she gave us crayons and paper to draw our own ideas.
And they didn't make so big a deal out of winning -- or losing -- that I felt I had to win.
Mom wrote and painted and gave us a full photographic record of family life.
She taught crafts at Scout meetings. And she MADE our couch!
Dad made things from wood -- all kinds of useful stuff for camp.
I can't count how many times I went to the Detroit Institute of Arts, Greenfield Village, the Detroit Zoo, and the Detroit Historical Museum, before I was 12.
My parents both endured trauma when they were young, but they were resilient.
They made the best of any bad things life threw at them.
When my dad died at 40, leaving a young widow with 7 kids, Mom didn't give up.
She remarried, giving us 2 wonderful little sisters. Later she went to college.
She taught me to keep trying when things didn't go my way.
Kids: Keep going. The world needs to hear your voice.