Collaborating with our children's book illustrator

When we first started creating the vision for the at-home scavenger hunt, it was going to be just a video, scavenger hunt clues and some sort of treasure. The more and more we discussed what would bring imagination and fun to this at-home adventure, we decided we wanted to implement a children's storybook. So we started discussing options. Could I draw illustrations for the book? We know a few people that are artistic but this would be a large task to put on someone and how would that process work? So we started to look up on Google, children's book illustrator's. And one of the first illustrators I really liked was Jen.

Jen has illustrated many children's books and she had a flair for drawing dragons! We wanted our storybook to be brightly illustrated, magical and a book that would excite children and bring their imagination to life! So we reached out to Jen, who also happens to be from Cape Town, South Africa. Jen was super excited about our concepts and ideas and she willingly jumped on board with our 3 week completion request. She did an excellent job of asking us to write up our ideas and give her details on each character and what each scene should look like. Her time zone is 7 hours ahead of us so we had that to work around. I would wake up often in the middle of the night to check my email in our Minnesota time zone, so that I could give immediate reply's and approval's.

It was a really cool, and thankfully fairly stress free process. After sending her our ideas and cover page sketches, she started to send back sketches of her own. Majority of the time we would send an immediate, yes! back and that we loved it! When something would need to be changed, it usually was just some simple tweak.

For instance, the page here. She sent the sketches of the boy going on his epic quest, up a mountain, through a jungle and doing an under water adventure. In the sketch, the monkey, snake and shark look a little villainous. We went back and forth on what a perspective of a child at-home reading the book would be. Were they too scary, should they be happier? We asked our 6 year old son, Bodhi, his opinion. He thought they looked mean. And we asked Joe's mom her opinion too. Everyone thought they should look happier. So we ended up making the request to change the animals to have nicer expressions. She made the perfect adjustments and we really love the illustrations!

We're really happy with how our adventure book turned out! As it was created, we tried to look at it from a child's perspective. Would it invoke imagination, fun, and excitement? I believe we created that. It's colorful, vibrant, and fun. I also love the illustrations with the children in the far away land playing with the colorful dragons. Soaring through the air, roasting marshmallows with their fire breath, and playing chase the tail on the dragon.

It's been a fun and new experience in creating our adventure kit from the comforts of our Twin Cities home and in quarantine due to COVID-19. I hope Bodhi has created some positive memories, being apart of starting a small business and being the feature character of the at-home adventure kit. All three of us did this together - in midst of a pandemic - and we'll always have this memory to look back on.

And we hope that we are able to bring joy, imagination, experience and entertainment to the children that read the book, take the quest and discover their treasure and dragon egg!

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