Art students illustrate book for local writer


Monica Castellanos

Jim Finch’s graphic design students students work on their illustrations.

Junior Christina Lawson and a team of 25 of the school’s digital artists are involved in the production of a children’s book written by Patricia Williams, a current school board accountant. Williams previously had owned a retail outlet called “Here Kitty Kitty!” that catered to cat enthusiasts. According to digital art teacher Jim Finch, Williams was inspired to write the book and name it after her store when she adopted Miss Kitty, an injured cat with a missing eye and a damaged ear. Working at the the school board offices in Viera, Williams saw some of the artwork of students and messaged art teachers in Brevard County, requesting illustrations for her book and Finch responded. Proceeds made from copies of the book will go to animal shelters such as the Humane Society.

“It’s fun designing the characters,” said Lawson, one of the student art directors for the team. “I didn’t have any photographic references, so I basically had free range on the design of the characters. I’ve never worked with a team before, so that’s a new thing. Communicating with all these different people and making sure that everything runs smoothly is a pretty difficult task because not only do you have to make sure that everybody gets their stuff in on time, but you also have to make sure that everything looks up to quality and that it’s book-ready. I think this experience will maybe help sometime in the future if I ever work with a team again, and I’ll know what to do and what not to do and make sure that everything goes all right. ”

The team, made up of Digital Art 2, Digital Art 3 and AP digital art students, has been working on the project for nearly a month. The book will contain 28 illustrated pages between front and back covers.

“The big thing for me is that my students are going to be contributors to a published book,” Finch said. “They’ve got that on their resume now. When you’re in college, you wouldn’t get that opportunity. You’d have to be a professional illustrator most times to actually ever get that, and they have it while they’re in high school. That immediately gives them a step up on any graduating college student.”

Williams will self-publish about 50 hard covers of “Here Kitty Kitty!” and it will also be sold as an eBook. Finch stresses the importance of this project for his students.

“The story of the book is significant,” Finch added. “But 80 percent of the love of the book will come from the children’s illustrators, as well as the story it tells. So to me that’s a big part, and it’s the opportunity. I want them to see where they’re not getting paid anything, but for years after they’re through with this book, it’s going to make a contribution to help animals that can’t really help themselves. And I think that’s really important. It’s a significant little story for children to read, but what’s amazing is that it can actually make the world a little better. I want students to be empowered with that. If they know that they can actually contribute and make something better, isn’t that kind of important? And if they do one children’s book, they now have all the skills to create characters, do the storyboarding, come up with the idea, have a timeline and understand about production.”

By Monica Castellanos