Behind the Scenes
How was Oliver Poons created, you ask? With lots of practice and teamwork.
The Oliver Poons stories typically originate as bits of rhyme on pieces of scratch paper. Lauryn often writes late in the evening as a creative outlet to unwind from the day. While she should probably use a designated notebook so all her notes are in one place, verses of rhyme end up on sticky notes or as electronic notes and voice memos on her phone. The creative process can be slightly jumbled at times, but after a little time in what Lauryn calls the “subconscious simmer” phase, the bits and pieces of rhyme turn into a cohesive storyline. Once a story is complete in draft form and sent to a few close friends and family for review, it gets typed up and printed for Lois.
The Illustration Process
From there, Lauryn and Lois cut the text to decide how many lines should go on each page and what the corresponding illustration should be. (And, in this case, “cut and paste” quite literally means scissors and tape/glue. Lois isn’t fond of working electronically so the text is cut and put on cardboard backgrounds.)
Once the text layout is drafted, the real work begins for Lois. The illustrations are painted using watercolor pencils and watercolor paint. Lois and Lauryn have ongoing collaborations to make Lauryn’s vision for the story a reality. Sometimes Lauryn provides a sketch or two as creative direction for Lois, but Lauryn’s artistic ability isn’t quite up to par with Lois’s so there are times when this is more helpful to Lois than others.
As Lois begins the drafting process, there are always a number of conceptual and artistic outtakes before the final illustration. Lois has certainly learned the benefits of tracing paper when an illustration is an “almost”, but still not quite right.
As each illustration is finalized, Lois tapes the edges to the aforementioned cardboard and lines them up on her dining room china cabinet to see the progression of the character’s personalities with the storyline. Did we mention that Lois paints on her kitchen counter? (She even painted on a cutting board on her lap when she broke her ankle and was unable to walk.)
Needless to say, she is working on setting up a designated studio area for Book 2.
After all the artwork for the book is finalized, the creative process is largely back in Lauryn’s hands. The images are taken to be photographed by Photo Connection of Colchester in Colchester, CT. Lauryn and Lois learned quickly that the hues of watercolor images aren’t well received by many computer scanners. Mike and Jeannette of Photo Connection were life savers for Lauryn and Lois when they couldn’t find an affordable, quality scanning option to make the book a reality.
Once Lauryn receives the electronic version of the images from Mike and Jeannette, it’s time to put it all together. At first, Lauryn contemplated hiring a graphic designer to help design the book. However, faced with a limited budget and tight timeframe, she ended up graphically designing Oliver Poons and the Bright Yellow Hat herself.
During the graphic design part of the process, Lauryn and Lois naturally switch roles. Lauryn executes creatively on design and Lois critiques and reviews. The two almost always see things differently, but the varying viewpoints always produce a better creative outcome in the end. Contrast is, of course, natural fuel for creativitiy.
The first version of Oliver Poons and the Bright Yellow Hat was designed the week of Halloween 2014 (when Lauryn realized the only way she would have a book for holiday book signings was if it was submitted to the printer by the first week in November.)
While Lauryn had extremely little experience with any of Adobe’s design products, having only made a few clicks in Photoshop in her life prior to this endeavor, her determination paid off. The first file of Oliver Poons and the Bright Yellow Hat was sent to the printer just in the knick of time. After a rush shipment, the first copies of the book were delivered in the midst of a snowstorm the day before Thanksgiving, just in time for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday book signings.
Lauryn and Lois are excited for some of initial learning curves of the book creation process to be behind them as they work on future books!