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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: design process, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Awesome has a name: Zeke Meeks

I had the pleasure of working on our new Zeke Meeks series for the last year. This series is so ingenious and funny, it will bring you to tears. Yeah, funny even for a grown girl like me. (Please notice I did not called myself a grown-up, I'm not . . . yet anyways.)

I wanted to share the funky eureka process with everyone out there and unveil some of the little secrets of this project on the visual side.

Nine months ago I brought the first manuscript home and showed it to my daughters. We read it together and laughed hysterically. Now, my job was to output this great content correctly. Panic . . . terror . . . all of it started to set in. Part of our job as art directors or book designers is being the matchmaker between the story, visuals, and audience.

I looked for an illustrator for a month. No luck. One day I decided to post something ridiculous about my illustrator search on twitter: "Looking for an awesome illustrator for a chapter book that knows comedy & enjoys irony at its best.” (I thought it sounded smart at the time, really I did.) Many submissions came along, and I knew I had found the perfect match for Zeke in illustrator Josh Alves. Why? He understood cleverness and irony when it came to illustrating, and his style said Zeke all over it. I pitched Josh the project, he loved it, and was a shoo-in.

Now I had the awesome story and the great illustrator, but I still needed the design to glue the parts together. It was one of the most challenging and involved developments I've done. I produced more than 30 versions of the covers before Michael Dahl, back from one of his many trips, dropped a magazine on my desk with a post-it that read: "Cool inspiration for Zeke." It was a high fashion magazine. I stared at it, completely puzzled. Then I got an email from Michael explaining the magazine on my desk. It was a crazy idea, and it was perfect. I laughed, grabbed a piece of paper, sketched and doodled like a first grader, and that was that.

I simply

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2. Nonfiction Read Aloud, Part 3: BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY by Melissa Sweet


Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade
by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, on shelves November 1, 2011
review copy provided by the publisher







There's so much to love about BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY for a nonfiction read aloud!

It is a true story that needs to be told. Tony Sarg, while famous to puppeteers (one of Sarg's apprentices was Bill Baird, who did the goatherd scene in The Sound of Music, and one of Baird's apprentices was Jim Henson), has fallen through the cracks of history when it comes to his association with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. And yet, his creation lives on. I think a read aloud of this book would be a great opportunity to talk with kids about all the amazing things they might accomplish in their lifetimes...that will touch lots of lives, but never result in celebrity fame.

It is inviting. In the classic Melissa Sweet style, there are large, bright, engaging parts of each illustration to be seen from afar, AND there are lots of fun details to be examined on a close-up rereading. Plus, it's about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, which has been known to (and loved by) generations of Americans. How many memories do YOU have of that parade?!?

It celebrates tinkering. Tony Sarg was lucky. He grew up in a day and time when toys were mechanical, and he could take them apart to figure out how they worked. Kids these days need experiences with tinkering. I was reminded of this recently when a wave of "fortune teller" making passed through my class. (You know -- those origami devices that you stick thumbs and forefingers into and pinch this way and that, giving the player the option to make several choices before you lift the flap that tells their fortune?) Nearly everyone learned to make them, then improved on the design in their own ways, either with innovative fortune choices, or by making the largest or smallest ones possible.

In our science curriculum, "tinkering" is know as The Design Process. As long as you PROMISE to make sure your students have the chance to USE the design process to create their own invention and then find ways to make it better, I will suggest that you read this book aloud in your science time in order to discover how Tony Sarg utilized the design process in the development of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. One more stipulation -- you are not allowed to do a first read of this book in science. You must first read it for enjoyment! Okay...pinky promise? Pinky promise. Now go get a copy of this book and share it with your class!

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See and hear Melissa Sweet tell the story of writing this book in this video.

Jama Rattigan has a FEAST of a review, with an interview, images from the book, photos, links, and a give-away. Check it out!

1 Comments on Nonfiction Read Aloud, Part 3: BALLOONS OVER BROADWAY by Melissa Sweet, last added: 11/8/2011
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3. New promo postcards

I finally did my promo postcard illustration and now they’re all in the mail.
This time I tried to change things up a bit and did the entire illustration in Photoshop. I really enjoyed the process and I’m working on more illustrations this way.

Here’s the finished printed piece. I’m so happy with how the colors came out.  I used an online printer called PSPrint to produce this postcard, they’ve always been great for me.

The main inspiration for this postcard are my neighborhood squirrels. They have overrun my little town and they are in a frenzy of activity right now. I always feel like they’re up to mischief so I wanted to convey that feeling.

And here’s a little squirrel that I put on the back of the card:

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

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4. Music to our ears...continued


In our latest edition of posts about music to work to, we get a look at the many musical moods of art director Bob Lentz. Who knows why Metallica unlocks his creative blocks? It just does. Read on:


When I’m working on a new design: Personal faves such as Ben Folds, Jason Mraz, Fountains of Wayne, Coldplay, and Foo Fighters.

When I’m stumped creatively: Punk music like MXPX and NoFX; and heavy metal legends such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, and Metallica.

When I’m doing production work: 70s and 80s R&B, including Al Green, Lionel Richie, and lots of Motown. A great accompaniment to relaxing, monotonous tasks.

When I’m designing a series with a more epic, cinematic scope: Classic film
scores like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and E.T. There’s something very inspiring about the works of John Williams, especially, that elevates a book visually from so-so to film-worthy.

Guilty pleasures: Let’s just say that I’ve been busted on two separate occasions for listening to Hall & Oates and Olivia Newton-John, respectively.

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