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Copyright 2023 © by Jim Potter
I call myself a cave dweller. My computer cave room is where I, alone, write blogs and books. But, at some point, I do collaborate. While writing my books, I read my new chapters to Alex—my wife—and she regularly encourages me and improves my work.
Currently, I’m collaborating with Gina Laiso, Integrita Productions, as she creates colorful illustrations for my first children’s book, K-9 Kudzu: Observations of a Working Dog Who Loves to Play.
There are twenty-six chapters in K-9 Kudzu and most of them have at least two or three spot-illustrations. I’m sharing a few of them with you in today’s blog post.
Gina kept telling Alex and me that we needed to decide what Kudzu, a German shepherd police dog, looked like since he’s the book’s narrator, and would have a recurring image in different poses.
We knew we wanted Kudzu to look friendly and intelligent since the book was going to be educational. We also wanted to show the playful side of Kudzu because the best police K-9s have a heavy play-drive. And finally, we wanted K-9 Kudzu to be engaging and humorous without looking silly.
Eventually, all three of us were pleased with K-9 Kudzu’s branding image showing him playing with his blue ball.
When I originally sent Gina my finished book, I included ideas and placemarks for many illustrations, but my plans weren’t deeply developed. Then, she started a storyboard and layout, plotting the images among the formatted pages.
I’ve mentioned previously that my visual artistic skills are nearly none. I draw stick people.
Lucky for me, both Gina and Alex work extremely well together in communicating effectively and developing superb images. Gina creates the illustrations, then, at times, Alex, a visual proofreader, will recommend a tweak. The two professional artists are focused on the best presentation of the image while my feedback is more about it fitting into the context of the story.
It’s amazing how well the three of us work together. We listen attentively, we’re creative, and our egos are in check so we can produce the best outcome. That’s only possible because we respect, trust, and enjoy one another. I have no doubt that our finished product will be just as rewarding as our collaborative journey.
Gina had at least one book illustration job before us with total creative freedom to visually tell the author’s story. Her client wasn’t critiqing a thing during the process. That must have been liberating for Gina. In contrast, we’re eagerly engaged with each newly illustrated chapter. We can’t be Gina’s typical clients. I know we slow her down.
We’re lucky Gina is patient with us as we all work towards getting the illustrations “just right.” I marvel at her welcoming attitude upon receiving our suggestions. It can’t be easy. Fortunately, she doesn’t see it as going backward; she sees it as forward progress.
If you’re planning on writing a children’s book with illustrations, I wish you the best in finding a J. Alex Potter and a Gina Laiso. They’re both precious gems.
Until next time, happy writing,
To contact Gina Laiso, Integrita Productions, click on the following Facebook link.
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