Van Wert graduate illustrates first book

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Becca Johnson spent her youth drawing comics for fun, these days she’s making a career out of illustration, with a book, “Kindness in a Scary World”, recently released. The Van Wert High School graduate of 2013 spent a lot of her time in high school in the art room and knew she wanted to go into an art related career. “All four years of high school I took the art class,” said Johnson. “When I was younger I got really into graphic novels and comic books, and drawing was always a way for me to communicate.”

Johnson recalled drawing comics for her sister at a young age. After high school Johnson attended Huntington University for digital media arts and animation where she graduated earlier this year in May. In the summer of her senior year, Johnson was hired to illustrate a book. “I was hired by my author, Rebecca Hubbard,” said Johnson. “I met her through a past client I had.”

Johnson worked on the illustrations on and off during the school year and finished it shortly after she graduated. She noted that she was given artistic freedom to interpret what the author wrote. Hubbard would send Johnson the script of each page and Johnson would send layout sketches back. “They were in a sketchbook,” said Johnson. “It was drawings of what I had in mind, where the characters were placed, what the characters looked like, and then I would get them approved by her.” After approval, Johnson had to continue the process which included inking and re-sizing.

Hubbard, a practicing children’s psychologist, wrote the children’s book as the start of a series to help children cope with different issues in life. “The whole series aims to help families with kids who have gone through different types of trauma,” said Johnson. “In this case the book is focusing on terrorism.”

“Kindness in a Scary World” was released Sept. 8, 2017, and follows a young child who sees an act of terrorism on the news. The character doesn’t quite understand why their parents are feeling the way they are feeling. The book takes readers into the emotions of the child who is trying to understand what is happening in the world.

“I personally connected with the character because 9/11 happened when I was a young child,” said Johnson. “So trying to figure out those emotions I had, helped me connect with the character in this book.” The book also includes a guide to help parents talk to their children about things that are happening on the news.

Johnson had artistic freedom when it came to the images, and because she connected the character, Johnson found herself drawing the character’s home to resemble her family’s home growing up, and imagining the character’s actions as her own as a child. Currently three other books are planned in Hubbard’s series, all of which Johnson is set to illustrate.

These days, Johnson spends her time in Bloomington, Indiana. She advises any aspiring artist to keep practicing and to never be afraid to ask for help. She said the entire process has been surreal. “It’s really been crazy; the process moves really quickly,” said Johnson. “It’s weird to see the book come up on Amazon for people to order. The amount of supportive people in my life that have said they want to order it has really meant a lot to me.”