Kevin Gard is a textile artist, father of three, and the author of a book called Oh, Sully! that he would like to publish and share with children everywhere. Here he shares a bit about his book starring a friendly whale who learns self acceptance, his Kickstarter campaign to get it published, plus an idea for a kid-friendly art exhibition!
JEAN: I love the concept of Oh, Sully! and think its message is important for everyone, not just children. What do you hope children will take away from this book?
KEVIN: After reading Oh, Sully!, I hope that children will walk away from it being able to connect with a lovable character, and the ability to be comfortable with who they are; to embrace differences.
JEAN: I'd love to hear a bit about your background as an artist and illustrator... What led you to this point?
KEVIN: As a child, my parents were very creative and so I was influenced by them to create. I began drawing at a young age and decided that in college I wanted to pursue this for my degree.
I graduated with a Bachelor's in Art from Cal State University Fullerton. From there, I went to work as an apparel designer, got interested in fabrics, and had my own diaper bag company.
Keeping involved with different mediums of art, I first tried to paint Oh, Sully! I didn't like the effect it had on the character and decided to build the story around fabric.
JEAN: Am I to understand that you sew Sully and the illustrations for the book? How does that work? Do you then photograph the textile version?
KEVIN: I also sew and design modern quilts and used this same idea towards the book, Oh, Sully! I sewed and pieced together each page with fabric in a collage format and glued it to board. Those individual panels were then each photographed. I then had the text digitally dropped in.
JEAN: As parents, we have a huge opportunity to guide and influence our children. But at the same time, I think our children have as big of an influence on us in many ways. I would love to hear how you, as an author and illustrator, are influenced by your three children...
KEVIN: As an author and illustrator, my own children influence me with their comical responses, dialogue and imaginary play. As I was building the book and developing the story, I would read it aloud to them. I would alter things as I went depending on their reaction. They adore the story and have begun making their own books since seeing me doing Oh, Sully!. This thrills me to see them create.
KEVIN: I plan to first tour my own children's schools, local schools, and build on from there. We have a lot of educator friends, who have supported this idea.
Additonally, I also plan to have a completely kid-friendly art exhibition. So many exhibitions are geared towards adults, and not child friendly. This would allow the children to see the entire original book and the process of building a book.
For the art exhibition, I plan to display the original panels, original sketches, and storyboard so that they can see the process as they walk through. It'll help to show the process of making something from nothing and that things don't happen instantaneously, that there is a thought behind everything you see. There will be an art/craft area where they can sit and create their own book. I'm sure as this develops more may be involved.
JEAN: How can we help you reach your goal of publishing and sharing "Oh, Sully!" with children and families?
KEVIN: I am trying to finish raising funds so that I can get it published. If parents/readers are interested in donating towards my project, they can donate directly through the site after viewing my project video [above, with sneak peaks of the great illustrations and text].
My book is on http://www.kickstarter.com. It can be accessed by typing in either my name or the book title- Oh, Sully! - Kevin Gard.
JEAN: Anything else you'd like to add?
KEVIN: Oh, Sully! is hopefully a first of a series of children's book that I have ideas for. I am hoping that I will be able to have this opportunity to see this project from start to end and to be able to positively influence children to appreciate themselves.
JEAN: Thanks so much for sharing your vision and your book with us, Kevin. I wish you the best of luck in reaching your goal and publishing Oh, Sully!
Okay, my friends, would you like to help Kevin reach his KickStarter goal of $15,500?
The money will be used to publish the book in both traditional print form and as an e-book, build a website for the book, hold a kid-friendly art and book exhibition, and allow Kevin to tour schools sharing his book and his message of self acceptance with even more children.
He's raised $6,052 so far and has 9 days to raise another $9,473.
If 377 people each pledged just $25, that would do it. Or if 188 people each pledged $50... You can pledge any amount, big or little.
By doing so, you will be part of something special—bringing a lovely, new children's book into the world that celebrates everyone's uniqueness. You may also receive an Oh, Sully! print or a signed copy of his book (or other fun stuff) depending on the amount you contribute.
Plus, you'll receive the same message I did: "Congratulations! You are now an official backer of Oh Sully; a children's book." Doesn't that have a nice ring to it? I haven't been an official backer before.