Accountability. In the fire service, accountability is the term we use to remind us that everyone involved with a fire scene must be accounted for at all times. It takes a lot of personnel to control a situation successfully and there are a lot of risks involved with any fire scene. Accountability ensures us that everyone has a task and nobody becomes lost or forgotten. If accountability fails on the fire scene, the outcome can be tragic.
In the publishing industry, accountability, though not life-threatening, is equally as important. A successful book needs hard work from a variety of talented people in order to get the book published and in to the hands of the public. With a fire, it takes a truck full of firefighters to get an incident under control. With a book, it takes a truck full of creatives. Allow me to explain…
When a fire truck rolls to the scene of a fire, the truck will have five firefighters inside, who are “geared-up” and ready to do what needs to be done to get the incident under control. In the driver’s seat, sits the driver. The driver knows the address and knows the best route to follow in order to get to the scene quickly and safely. The driver also knows how to get water flowing to the fire hoses, once the truck arrives at the scene. In the other front seat, sits the Incident Commander. This firefighter has the knowledge and the vision it takes to quickly develop an attack plan that will be both effective and safe. In the back seat of the truck sit three firefighters. They are ready to take on whatever task is handed to them. They have tools, hoses and air-tanks (SCBA) that make it possible for them to rescue people, extinguish fires and breath on the inside of the structure during the fire, if they must go inside.
Now, let’s return to publishing. In creating a book (we’ll use a children’s picture book for this example) we will also find a truck full of five “creative” who are “geared-up” and ready to make the book a success. In the driver’s seat, is the author. They know the story and they know every twist in turn along the way. In the other front seat sits the publisher. They know the big picture and understand what it will take to make the book a success. In the back seat sit the illustrator, the graphic designer and the marketing specialist. These three individuals have the tools to make the book come to life. The illustrator will create the art, the graphic design will layout all of the text, including the cover and spine titles and the marketing specialist knows who the target market is for the book and how to get it in front of the right people.
If everyone on the truck does their job, the book will hit the shelf (or the virtual shelf) and readers all around the world will be able to enjoy the story the author has created. Thanks to the author, the publisher, the artist, the graphic designer and good marketing, a book will enter the world successfully and not go “up in flames.”
A disappearing act? Lost in the wilderness? A return to the stone age? Where have I been over the last year? It took me a moment to find the answer myself. So, here I am taking a brief moment to reflect on the last 52 weeks…
When I last reported, I had just returned from New York and the chaperoning experience of a lifetime. Since then, my illustration workload has increased significantly. I have created the art for three books and begun work on three more. I have replaced two computers, a cell phone, a backpack, a car, a boat and my bunker gear and helmet at the fire department. I have visited Denver once, St. Louis twice and St. Paul more times than I can count. I spent the fall season and part of winter teaching fire safety to elementary school kids and am preparing to return to teaching for Minnetonka Center for the Arts for a large portion of 2016.
I have worked for a number of outstanding companies over the last year! They include Seed Learning, the Houston Public Library, United Methodist Publishing House, Red Sofa Books, Pauline Media and Norwood House Press. From these projects have been born three books, a collection of kid’s summer camp materials and an endless supply of educational materials for children around the world.
The highlight of 2015 was creating the art for a fantastic little picture book, published by Pauline Media. The book, written by Michelle S. Lazurek is titled “Mommy, Am I Strong?” I absolutely had a blast working on this book and I am happy to see it having some success. If you’d like to pick up a copy of the book, you can find it on Amazon and at any Pauline Media Bookstore.
The last 52 weeks have been an amazing adventure. And as I look at my to-do list for the next year, I expect things to keep ramping up. I have a lot of plans for this year and I can’t wait to share them all with you! The next book to hit the shelves is “classified” at the moment, but I look forward to telling you all about it as soon as I am allowed to do so.
Keep enjoying life and make sure your smoke detectors are working!
It’s been a fast-paced, wild couple of months. Since January, I have begun training for my Fire Investigation certification, completed illustration projects for United Methodist Publishers, Patterson Companies and a number of smaller organizations. I completed a residency at Anoka Middle School for the Arts, gave a handful of drawing and writing workshops to a number of girl scout troops and traveled by bus to New York with 90+ high school music kids. I also managed to shave 42 seconds off of last year’s time in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb Fire Fighter Challenge. This year’s time was 7:00. Next year, I’ll aim for 6:30. It’s been a busy spring for the LLFD too, We have seen a number of wind-assisted fires lately and today looks to be more of the same. All in all, it has been a great kick off to 2015! Here are some photos.
Occasionally, I catch the snow melting on the sidewalk, acting as if April is right around the corner. But then, a frigid breeze rolls across the ground and glazes that melting snow with a brand new layer of winter. So, I keep my wool socks near my boots by the back door and I get back to work, ignoring my misguided hope for an early spring. But, as a bird perches on the shrub in front of my studio window, I find myself longing for spring again. Listening closely for sounds of bees buzzing, ski boats making swift turns around the lake and larger flocks of birds, singing the praises of warm weather. But as another breeze blows, I shake my day dreams off and focus myself back to work on a new illustration.
My schedule has been busy in 2015 and it looks to be even busier as I move toward spring. I just finished a pair of projects for United Methodist Publishing House and I am about to begin another. On top of those wonderful projects, I am also beginning work on a new picture book. This book will be published by Pauline Books & Media.
As some of you may already know, my illustration and writing work is only about 60 percent of my normal workload. I also teach two days per week at a variety of schools around Minnesota.
My current teaching schedule includes drawing classes and storytelling classes at the Bloomington Theatre and Art Center and at the Anoka Middle School for the Arts. We are covering character design, story boarding and visual storytelling.
So far, 2015 has proven to be a very busy year for the fire department too. We have responded to a large number of fire and medical related, placing us quite a bit ahead of schedule from last year.
Lastly, I will once again be competing in the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb in Minneapolis on February 21st. This is the event where we don full fire gear, including our air pack, and climb 31 stories as quickly as we can. We do this to raise money for a great cause and to honor those who we have lost to lung disease. My time last year was 7:23. I am aiming to shave off nearly a minute this year and finish in 6:30. If you’d like to donate to my climb, you can follow this link. Donate to Scott’s Fight for Air Climb! Any donations are truly appreciated!
So, there is February in a blink. I will be taking my wife out to a nice Valentine dinner, watching our son sing at Minneapolis Orchestra Hall and celebrating his 18th birthday with our family. February is going to be an amazing month. I hope yours is amazing too!
What a wild ride the holidays were this year! As I continue to juggle my career as an artist with being a fire fighter, I am finding that some nights are not conducive to rest. For example, on December 30th, at about 9pm, I and the rest of the Engine 21 crew pulled up on the scene of a very large house fire. The house, a new build, was approximately 7000 square feet and was already spitting flames in to the air as high as 40 feet when we arrived. As the first crew on the scene, we stretched hose and started putting water on the fire, hoping to save any thing we could. We managed to keep the fire away from the neighboring homes, but the new house was a total loss. We fought the fire for nearly seven hours.
The next day, as I woke up from about two hours of rest, I sat down in my studio and flipped through my emails. Inside my mailbox were three work offers; one of them a picture book! This work, along with my teaching schedule will likely keep me busy in to May or June of this year. It is a wonderful feeling to start the new year like this.
With every jump forward, I occasionally find that a tiny step back is necessary. The most recent step back was a black screen of death on my art computer. As I sat down on Monday morning, ready to get started on a big week of work, I hit the power button on my computer. I sipped some water while flipping through my mail and watched as my computer screen sat blank. The computer whistled, hummed and “grinded”; but it never brought an image up on the screen. Crossing my fingers and letting the cold sweat from my brow sting the whites of my eyes, I restarted it…five times. Nothing changed. Bummer…At 8 am on a Monday, I had lost my primary tool of creation. I panicked as I lost my calendar, my notes and all of the work I had done the previous week. Did I back everything up? About three weeks prior, but everything from the middle of December to this day was gone; lost in the darkness that was now my computer’s corpse.
After two days or drawing “rough sketches” (caveman-style) on a lap board with pencils, the computer repair shop had set me up with a brand new computer and I was soon to be back; full swing in to my work. It only took four hours for me to re-install all of my software.
So today, I start work on four new projects, with a brand new computer system as my tool. Look out world; 2015 has arrived and I’m driving! I hope everyone has an amazing 2015!
The second half of summer was an illustration-juggling act. Since July, I have created art for the fire department, a school mascot, the thumbnails and script for a graphic novel, signage for a pair of festivals and the text and rough art for a children’s picture book (about a meteor).
While not glued to my workstation, I tried to get outside and enjoy the sunshine (and the rain). After returning from an extended visit to Europe, we floated, golfed and ran the bases a few times. It was a very enjoyable (but much too short) summer. Relaxation came only when exhaustion demanded it.
Here are a few photos from the second half of summer.
I hope everyone has an enjoyable October!
It has been quite a summer and my to-do list is still pouring off the edges of my desk.
Since my last post, I have created over 300 illustrations for 14 clients, taught over 250 hours of drawing and storytelling classes, traveled for two weeks in Europe and received my certifications in firefighting and hazmat operations. Here are a few peeks at what I have done so far this summer.
More to come very soon!