Kids Book 2: Secrets of the Starbucks

We live in a world where people use cafés as office space. I could never work in a café, it would be too distracting. I can barely work at home with the cat, nevermind the people-watching opportunities in a public place like Starbucks. Don’t these people have their own offices or homes? I suppose they’re filled with crying babies and substandard beverages. Not being a coffee drinker, I normally have no call to go into a Starbucks, but when Dan replied to my email responding to his Craigslist ad it was agreed that we’d meet at the Starbucks on Commercial Drive. I brought my sketchbook.

Anyone in a freelance capacity is probably used to meeting new people on neutral ground. My advice is to make sure you get a description of the other person, and provide one of yourself. This is something I try to remember to do, but I don’t always succeed. I seem to recall in this instance I forgot, but luckily when someone who is waiting for a stranger sees a stranger wandering around seemingly looking for another stranger, the task of identification is within his means. That was the case in the Starbucks in question.

Oops, I forgot a step. Before we met, we sent volleys of email with regards to artistic styles. Everyone knows that the ‘genre’ of kids books runs the gamut from stick people to high art. I wish I was in the same league with Shaun Tan (Red Tree, The Lost Thing, The Rabbits) or Tony DiTerlizzi but I’m probably closer artistically to H.A. Ray (Curious George) or Dr Seuss (on a very good day). My personal affinity towards kids book art is Maurice Sendak and Mercer Mayer, so that is the kind of thing I would be going for on this proposed book.

At the meeting, Dan brought some books to show me, and we discussed the range of styles and formats that would work if, in fact, we would be collaborating. We discussed the story, the characters, and I did some sketches of the main monster character on the spot, with just a smidgeon of direction from Dan. Basically, I would draw a few different concepts and he’d pick his favourite, Then I’d draw a few more incorporating his feedback, and so on. We certainly did not come to a fleshed-out, final design but it got us out of the gate. Around that same time I was practicing my character design with the help of Preston Blair’s Cartoon Animation book, which was helping me to break out of the realism rut I’d gotten into with illustrating Dungeons & Dragons books for nigh on a decade. That helped immensely to put the visual character into the characters written by Dan.

I think if I was a go-getting sleazy corporate shill with no ideas of my own I would just haunt coffee shops around big cities and wait to overhear the million-dollar ideas that float around unprotected. But I’m not a go-getter with no ideas. I’m a guy with lots of ideas who likes to sleep in.

Dan told me that he was ‘auditioning’ a few other artists so he’d get back to me. We parted, I went home, and worked on a few more sketches over the next few days, which I emailed periodically.

Next: Hell is Colour.

One Reply to “Kids Book 2: Secrets of the Starbucks”

  1. That was a good move sending him character sketches over the intervening days. Definitely kept you firmly in mind and your enthusiasm certainly played a part in his final decision.

    Again, enjoying these entries.

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