An upside down journey to draw Kika


Chronicled below are some of the ups, downs and upside downs of transforming Kika – the idea in my head – into an illustrative reality.

This is Kika. She is being co-created and transformed as we speak. I am hoping her zest for life, adventurous spirit and spunk come through here. Next pictures to be upside down – promise!

In deciding to self-publish Kika the Upside Down Girl, I had some immediate questions about the illustrations: How does one bring to life a character inside your head? What will she look like and wear? What are her dimensions? What feelings will come up when you see her? Is she the Kika I am imagining?

At first I thought I could draw her. I would draw from my creative talents, which have served me well transforming wood, metal, paper and clay into new forms, to create Kika. So I tried, more than once, and I could not. I even booked a 2-day retreat (at Woodhaven Lodge) to focus on this task. I figured with specific time and space set aside to think and create, Kika would emerge – as a natural process for creative types like me. Just transform the Kika in my head into Kika on paper. Needless to say, my appreciation for illustrators has magnified thousand fold. It is hard work. I was so naive.

With this new knowledge, I had to figure out what to do – try again? (too frustrating), abandon the project? (too disheartening!) or find someone else to do it. I reached out to my network and found a wonderful illustrator named Lauren Pirie who understood my project – yay! She created some great sample drawings, then we both got busy and I lost focus. On good terms, we said goodbye.

When I was ready to commit again, I once again connected with a wonderful illustrator named Paul Watson who understood my project – yay again! He created some cool samples and then…got busy. On good terms, we said goodbye. I was committed BUT I was 2 for 2. Maybe it’s a sign I should do it myself? Not that again. I maintained my focus, I would find someone else. Kika will come alive!

After searching online and reading about self published authors who found illustrators, I found Mike Motz. His online business focuses on connecting illustrators with authors with himself as the broker. I called him up and grilled him. I was hesitant – this was not how I imagined it coming together. To be honest, I am not sure it will, but I do feel confident Mike knows what he is doing (he has completed numerous books to date) so I put my trust in the process.

This approach requires a lot of me – each page description and wording is done by me. I have to think through and articulate in words every detail before sending off to Mike. So, even though I am not drawing the images, I do feel we are co-creating them and that feels good. It is the best way to move forward and keep the project alive. If I listened to all the what if’s, this book would never happen so, instead, I’m trusting the process and moving forward. More updates soon on our progress!

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