When faced with an unfamiliar project it is common to seek a subject matter expert for guidance. When I began the task of illustrating my Miami Beach Art Deco coloring book, I sought the advice of my five year old grandson. As I worked on my thumbnail sketches, he noted “Grammy, books have spines.” This was the first of his insightful remarks.
When I came back with my drawings he noted, “You don’t have any people in it. You need to draw some kids doing fun things.” “Well, I do see people walking their dogs…” “Yes, what about a parachute…this sky looks empty.” “I don’t see parachutes at South Beach but I do see para sails.” “What’s that?” he inquired.
Not sure that I could explain it, I drew a sketch. “Cool!” he replied. “I guess I could draw some clouds in the sky,” I offered.
“I want to draw on this robot.” I decided to include dashed lines for tracing instead of making it a static object. “This building needs something.” “I did leave out some windows,” I explained. So much for my first edit…
I literally went back to the drawing board and returned with the changes he suggested. “Where’s the parachute?” he insisted. “Well, I drew clouds instead.” He wasn’t impressed and maybe a bit disappointed. Still, he said it was much better than before.
“These kids need helmets on their heads. They could get hurt!” “But they look so much cooler without the helmets,” I protested. “These kids need helmets!” “Alright,” I agreed.
“What should I do about the front of the book? I’ve seen a mermaid on a building I could draw.” “No, because people will think it is just for girls.”
“What should be the ages for the coloring book?” “Four to nine year olds. Little kids ‘scribble and scrabble’ and I’ve seen nine year olds color.”
“What should I call it?” “Teen Coloring book.” “Do you know what a teen is? “No!” “Well, I’m not calling it that.” I decided on “Splash and Color” without telling him. My ego had taken enough beatings.
A few weeks later, I returned with what I hoped would be the final edit. “Good job, Grammy. I am proud of you,” he beamed. “Wow! Thanks grandson.” Now to get it printed I thought…
As I read the publisher’s guidelines, I breathed a sigh of relief. My grandson had prepared me well.