Summary: This week was the book launch party for my first published YA Book, Ivy; Homeless in San Francisco published by Reach and Teach, and PM Press.
The event was a nice gathering of folks brave enough to wade through the throngs of people who were out celebrating Gay Pride weekend, which in San Francisco is quite a scene as I am sure you can imagine! We gathered together at a local book store, The Green Arcade. The store was the perfect venue for the party. The ambiance there has a certain combination of Left Coast politics, sustainability and general curiosity. When I first went in I was struck by the book selection, which reads more like someone’s private collection rather than a store. For example, if you are looking for that book about how cycling to work can change the world, this is the place. So, if you are a Bay Area local get on in there!
Well, on with the show! Derrick Kikuchi, one of the co-founders of Reach and Teach, was the Master of Ceremony for our launch. He took some time to speak a bit about how Reach and Teach is taking the message of this book and integrating it into a greater campaign which is aimed at bringing awareness to the issue of homelessness as well as to some of the solutions available for the people who find themselves in those most dire straights. In light of the severe economic downturn and in combination with the mortgage debacle we have been struggling in for a few years now, many individuals and families have found themselves out on the streets. This reality, as sad as it is, has helped in some measure to counter the prevailing bias towards people who are homeless. A situation that has at its core human beings, not too dis-similar to you or I. Once a spotlight has been shone on the issue of homelessness, we can begin to see this as the many layered problem that it really is.
One of the community partners that Reach and Teach has connected with is the Community Housing Project. Community Housing Partnership is the only San Francisco nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to providing permanent, supportive housing to formerly homeless individuals and families. Helping people to find a way out of, what is in most cases, a temporary situation; really wonderful work.
Ivy is going to be used in a few different ways to aid in this agenda. To start with, Summer Brenner ,the author of Ivy, has been going to area schools, and reading to 4th and 5th graders. Following these readings she often starts a dialogue with the children about the issue of homelessness, and in the process reveals the biases that we as individuals and as a society hold against people who are homeless.
After the reading, Summer and I signed books and talked with the people who came to the event. This was a first for me. (the signing the books part that is, not the talking to people.. I’ve done that before once or twice.) It was very thrilling, I have to admit.
Perhaps later I will put together a process blog about creating the images for Ivy. For now however, let me just say that it somehow didn’t dawn on me while I was working that this would be my first published YA book. Each of the pieces can be seen by either following the links below, or by perusing the different portfolio galleries on this site. The YA and middle reader’s are an area of the illustration market where I’d really like to focus my efforts, and so I am so happy to have had this opportunity. I am pleased not only with how the works turned, but mostly that in some way my work has helped to contribute towards the greater good. That for me is the most satisfying aspect of this whole experience. A feeling that was really brought home by this event.
The “Ivy” cover image can be seen here, and the collection of the black and white pencil drawings can be seen here. If you are interested in purchasing the original pieces or prints of these or any of the works on this site, please send me an email by using the contact form. As ever, your comments and feedback are welcome here.