Helen and the Trace That Launched a Thousand Trips
Before she became famous in advertising circles, she put up a collection of her art at a local Starbucks. The one frequented by MTM and me since more than a decade ago.
I never forgot the whimsy on display.
It was MTM who had the Helen-should-illustrate-my-book epiphany. He met with Helen and her husband Josh Nissenboim on another matter, and he came home and said, “You should talk to Helen about illustrating your book.”
I already dreamed about Helen illustrating my book.
It was a sign. (And, we all know how I believe in signs. You can judge the results when you read the book.)
I asked Helen to complete a little interview questionnaire to help you get to know her, Dear Reader. She’s responsible for everything visual about To Live Forever. I couldn’t be more tickled that she agreed to collaborate on this project. Questions are me. Answers are Helen.
Andra: What was the strongest inspiration for your illustrations for To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis? Was it a particular character? Meriwether Lewis’s expedition drawings? The story? How did you get started?
Helen: I really loved the relationship between Meriwether and Emmaline. The sweetness of the unlikely pair crept into my mind a lot as I was working; however, it was Meriwether’s original expedition drawings that influenced me the most. I referenced them a lot in the beginning, and when I felt like I had a good handle on the style, I let it evolve slightly.
Andra: Did you draw these in your tent? You said you might actually get that thing out and use it for this project, and I’m dying to know if you did.
Helen: Haha! I really should have. I prefer drawing on the floor, so I threw down a big wool blanket, piled up my references and supplies and drew for hours. I really, really enjoyed it.
Andra: Have you ever done a project like this? How is it different from what you do every day?
Helen: My day to day includes running a creative agency called Fuzzco. I wear a lot of hats including creative direction and strategy for our clients along with a healthy amount of business side work for Fuzzco. I’m turning from one thing to the next quickly. Getting to draw, for long stretches of time without interruption… it was a much needed, meditative experience. (Check out fuzzco by clicking here: http://fuzzco.com/)
Andra: Which illustration is your favorite? (Mine is the same as Helen’s.)
Helen: The cover illustration is my favorite. The complexity of the scene, the intricate plants and animals, I really enjoyed working on this one. You left a lot of the direction for the project up to me, but you did have some ideas about the cover, I really enjoyed pushing it further based on your direction.
Andra: The cover is very distinctive. How did you approach it?
Helen: The illustrations are more delicate and slightly feminine. I wanted the cover to feel a bit mysterious, unexpected. The color lends a more masculine tone to the art and the big, bold type offers a nice contrast to the hand-drawn illustrations.
Helen made my novel look amazing. I’m grateful that she agreed to work with me.
Last few days of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis pre-launch details are here: http://andrawatkins.com/books/