One of my blog readers,Vincent Noot, contacted me about a Kickstarter project he's created. It is a highly illustrated children's search-and-find book that is pretty darn cool. According to Publishers Weekly (January 13, 2014), nearly 1000 children's book projects were crowdsourced by Kickstarter in 2013. I'm interested in how this is working for new authors or author/illustrators, so I agreed to interview Mr. Noot and share some illustrations from the book called Find the Cutes - Playtime.
What is “Find the Cutes - Playtime” all about?
Children are creative. They have a huge imagination. In society today, despite all the technology and opportunities, the greatest happiness is often found in the home. Children give families that extra enthusiastic energy. “Find the Cutes - Playtime” is based on that concept. It sparks the imagination, stimulates dialogue without words, educates, entertains, and inspires.
Who are the Cutes?
The Cutes are a family. Their last name is “Cute” and all the kids’ names start with a “C”: Carissa, Chaz, Cade, Cammy, and Cindy. The story is based on the “second-mom” phenomenon: As the oldest daughter you sometimes get to babysit your younger siblings a lot. That’s how it can work in bigger families. The Cute kids aren’t just cute. They’re super cute!!!! In every illustration I tried to show their innocence and playfulness.
What inspired you as an illustrator?
As a child, I was much intrigued by search books. I spent hours looking for the right characters and objects on every page. But I discovered there weren’t that many different ones out there. Over the years, I developed a unique cartoon style that I was able to use for several companies and assignments. Together with my ideas and the concept of a search book, my wife (then girlfriend) and I came up with a search book and a fun family as the main characters.
How did you come up with each page, and how long did it take to draw them?
Before each page, I brainstorm about as many creative, funny things that could happen. For example, I divided the Birthday Party page into section of balloons, ball pit, presents, etc. Children can be very silly. So I think of what they'd do with a balloon, like rubbing it over their hair, letting it go into the air, binding it to their ears, popping it, etc. Each page took almost 100 hours to sketch, draw, color on the computer, etc. Each person is hand-drawn and colored in Photoshop. My wife, Celestial, did most of the storytelling. The whole book took 1 year to finish. Some drawings are based on real events. Sometimes something funny that happened in our lives, comes back in the drawings. For instance, when I was dating my wife, we both took a bite of the same huge hotdog at the same time. So in the Swimming Pool page, I drew a boy and a girl eating a hotdog at the same time.
Who is the book for?
Children ages 3 and up. Adults could enjoy it too. With 12 pages of things to search for, kids could be entertained for hours. Not only are we going to make a book, but we are planning on making it a tablet game for the ipad, kindle, and other devices. That will be a stretch goal if we make it.
Are you on social media?
We have a website, www.findthecutes.com, which will be the means of selling our book once it’s updated with a payment system. We are also on Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr. Feel free to look us up and follow us.
Are you going to make a sequel?
Yes. We are planning on an entire series of 8 books The next book will be called “Find the Cutes - Festival Fun” and will have fun search pages about Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, but also about the Tomato Festival in Spain, Songkran in Thailand, and Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. It will also have 12 pages and a storyline. We already started working on it.
When will it be available?
The book is completed, so on March 1st, we will launch a project on kickstarter.com. You can back our project for 30 days and get discounts that way. We are getting the website www.findthecutes.com ready for ordering, so we are in the process of getting the book printed and attaching a payment system to the website. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions at email@example.com or personally to my account at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan Hipp (SCBWI member and author-illustrator from the great state of Michigan), is nearing completion of his Kickstarter intiative for the picture book he wrote and illustrated called Little Steps. When I heard Ryan was using Kickstarter.com to fund the publication of this book, I wasn't too surprised because Ryan is a creative, big-thinking, self-starter. But I was interested to learn more about the backstory of Little Steps through Tara Lazar's interview with him. Check it out: http://taralazar.com/2013/04/04/kickstart-your-project-like-ryan-hipp-hint-take-little-steps/ and support Little Steps if you can.
This blog shares insights on the craft of writing children's books and the publishing industry, and supports creators and educators on their journeys.