Who's who - The illustrator: Jason Crowley
This post is all about Jason, our illustrator. However, he's an extremely humble human who dislikes talking about himself, so I have taken the liberty of giving you some insight into how he came to create the vivid and unique imagery that graces the pages of our book.
I first heard of Jason as 'the kid from Auckland' who joined a Rockquest band that a few of my friends were in near the end of high school. I think they did pretty well, with Jason quietly shredding his guitar from a dimly-lit corner of the stage, as the rest of the band soaked up the spotlight.
It was a first impression that, over the following years, proved to be both accurate and indicative of who he is as a person: an extremely hard-working, talented artist that loathes the attention that so many with similar traits crave.
Our first creative collaboration came in music. We wrote songs together for an earnest rock band that we held high ambitions for, but ultimately peaked with an appearance on the NZ-edition of Top of the Pops.
Jason was completing a Fine Arts degree at the time and created the animation for a music video for one of our songs that provided my first glimpse into his artistic style. It was somehow simultaneously dark, weird and maybe cute.
Our paths then diverted for some years. That band broke up, I went on my own musical journey and Jason forged a successful career in web design (hence why our website is so beautiful!). We did keep in vague touch though and now and then Jason would emerge online to share an illustration or two that was always intriguing, completely uncommon and drenched in dark humour.
So it made sense that, after finishing the first draft of Sing Like A Unicorn's words one chilly Toronto evening, I immediately thought of Jason as a collaborator to bring the story to life. I knew that if anyone in the world was to interpret the - let's be honest - pretty generic idea of a unicorn in a kid's book in a brand new way, it was going to be someone like Jason.
Luckily for me he was at a loose end and he saw just enough potential for his creative eye to flourish within and around the story's words. I gave him no brief, but his first sketches blew me away, I knew we were onto something great.
It then took a few years chipping away at ideas during weekends and holidays for him to get to a happy place with the illustrations and the book design.
The imagery he created around my words is the best part of this book. There are characters upon characters, desperate to be seen or spotted amongst enchanted forests, luminous skies and space itself. And the added magic is the fact that you can't help but break into a grin while you take this all in.
It's been a long road full of learnings to get to the point of pushing play on this book but we're finally here and about to share Jason's talent publicly, a step I hope will open up more opportunities for him to do so again in the future. For, as much as our story is about sharing your authentic self through singing, it could just as well be about any kind of human expression, including art; and Jason is a unicorn - a singular, unique voice that does nothing but add to our human existence.