Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Story Behind My Blog & The New Illustrations

I started my blog on October 18, 2009.  In the first post, I wrote about what I was reading and what my students were reading.  

As the years went on, I wrote about a lot of things.  

I wrote about painting the library. I wrote about weeding. I wrote about going to my first conference. I wrote about getting my masters degree and writing my thesis over our new 1:1 initiative. I wrote about Brianna graduating. I wrote about Dot Day and lots of other events. I wrote about authors visiting our library through Skype.  I wrote about digital tools and apps. I wrote about Hagan starting kindergarten.  I wrote about eBooks, eResources and loads of books I was reading aloud and sharing with my students. 

And most of all....I wrote about the students, teachers and families I worked with everyday.  

The Library Voice became a place where I had a voice not only in my library but throughout our community and the world.  

It continues to be that place for me.  The place I love sharing, teaching, connecting, collaborating and inspiring others through the things I am passionate, experienced and knowledgable about.  I love writing, especially on my blog.  It has become a home to me. 

Through the years, my blog went through some transformations.  
 It started out with dots and an owl....
 and then owls in the background.
I remember when I thought my blog needed to grow up....I think it was pretty plain looking back. 
The latest look I loved! It was a banner that I created with my favorite colors and fonts.  

Even though I was very happy with how my blog looked, I decided it needed a special change at the beginning of the year.  I had just taken the role as the Future Ready and Follett Project Connect Spokesperson. I was also Buncee's Teacher Librarian Advisor and waiting for my first series (The Library Skills series) to come out with Cantata Learning.  

As you can see, it was time for a change.  

First thing that came to my mind....I wanted the change to be unique and memorable. 

With these ideas, I knew that an illustration would fit well.  I turned to my friend and one of my favorite artists, Susan Reagan.    
I first met Susan when I connected about Tweet Hearts, her first picture book. 
I invited her into our library through Skype on Valentine's Day so she could share Tweet Hearts with the students and teachers.  It was an amazing way to celebrate.

You can read about this day here.
After that, Susan created another favorite.... Slipper and Flipper in the Quest for the Golden Sun. 
They even hold a special place on my library shelves at home. 
And most recently, Three Blue Pigeons that she illustrated for Cantata Learning.

Her work is amazing with its detail, color and the life that she gives each piece.  I was very thankful when she said yes!  I knew she would create something perfect for my blog.

As we got started, Susan asked me for ideas.  I wanted the art to reflect me and all of the things that I focus on within my work.
She started with this sketch (yes, it sure looks a lot like me) and....
added color and text.
She even gave me a different idea, which I loved too.  I really loved the colors and the multicultural elements of this one.
Then one day Susan changed her idea.

She drew the girl looking up with so much wonder in her expression.  That is just the look I wanted.
We brainstormed ideas for the elements floating around her head like gears, literacy, talking, Makerspaces with the origami bird, technology and more.
I especially love how Susan put apps that tie into my jobs and passions on the iPad.

I can see Follett, Buncee, Capstone Interactive, Flipgrid, Snapchat, Twitter, Padlet and more!
She also experimented with different fonts that she thought looked nice together and...
created the headers and my signature with her very own hand lettering.  
The card above will be on my blog and I will be using this for my business card too.

She created this by hand too!  It is just so cool.
I am also working with a web designer.  As soon as I give it a go, he is going to move my blog from Blogger to Word Press.  

You can see in the image above how Susan worked with him as they finalized placement, size, color and little elements here and there. 
Did you notice anything else about the girl?

Susan also took her glasses off!

When she was complete, it was my dream come true.  She had captured not only me, but the work I do and that of the community too.
As I pulled work from the Hightail Square site she set up, I smiled the whole time.
Susan had truly captured what I was looking for and it was going to fit so well with my blog. 
You just have to take a look at what Susan has been up to lately.

Her next illustrated book You and Me for The Creative Company is simply breathtaking.
I just love following her on Instagram (@susan_reagan) as she works on the illustrations for You and Me, which is due for publication in the fall of 2018.

You can visit Susan's website to see even more.

Thank you Susan for helping me create a space that is unique and special.  

One that makes an impact on our community, not just in the content, but also through these beautiful illustrations that tells people so much about my blog and myself.  

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