Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
Today we have the fun an talented illustrator of newly released We Got the Beat, Kaitlyn Shea O’Connor (who goes by Shea)!
Kaitlyn: Hi, Shea, thanks so much for stopping by today!
Shea: Delighted to be here, thanks for having me!
Kaitlyn: My pleasure! I love bright, fun illustrations and can’t wait to find out more about this book. First of all, how were you approached/selected for this project? And what prompted you to accept?
Shea: I believe Akashic Books found me through my profile with Shannon Associates, the agency I’m represented by. As soon as the Akashic art director, Aaron, explained I would be drawing to the lyrics of famous songs, I was hooked. The idea of creating a story that parallels a song seemed like it would be really engaging for kids. It would make learning words, colors, shapes, and numbers fun because they could wiggle in their seats, listening to the song as they read!
Kaitlyn: That does sound like an exciting project! Did you get to choose the song you illustrated or did your style match what the publisher wanted for this particular song?
Shea: There was a list of several songs I could choose from, but I chose “We Got the Beat” in a heartbeat. I felt like the bright, poppy 80s girl band vibe would really let my illustration style shine. I also wanted to incorporate hand-lettering in the book, and there are some really fun, punchy phrases in this song.
Kaitlyn: You are totally amazing at that poppy 80s girl band vibe! Did you immediately know what story you were going to draw? Were there any edits that you didn’t expect?
Shea: I had no clue whatsoever what I was going to draw! The brief was that I include all the lyrics and if I included humans, to make sure they were diverse. Other than that, total free reign of story and character development. I actually had very few edits throughout the process; it went really smoothly!
Kaitlyn: That sounds like a dream! I love the fun characters you chose, how did you know you wanted a mix of animal and children characters?
Shea: Thank you! I went to the Atlanta Zoo with my mom—our favorite past time—and the first exhibit was the flamingos. We giggled at the pun of FlaminGo-Go’s, envisioning the band members as flamingos, and that’s where it all began. I knew I wanted to include children to be playing with the flamingos, so that readers could put themselves in those character’s shoes.
Kaitlyn: Hahaha FlaminGo-gos! That sounds like an awesome cover band! If you had to pick a favorite spread here, which would be your favorite and why?
Shea: I truly had so much fun drawing each page…but if I have to choose, it’d be the spread with the kids soaring on the flamingo’s backs. Logically, it is very rare that you would see children dancing with multi-colored flamingos in bangles and shades, let alone flying on one. I love that it doesn’t have to make sense; nothing has to make sense in your imagination! Just get on your feet, dance, and have fun!
Kaitlyn: I love that spread too, you help our imaginations soar! Finally, if you could meet your favorite author, illustrator, or mathematician would you chat by a fireside or go on an adventure?
Shea: Asking all the tough questions! I have so many favorites, but of them all, Mary Blair would be so delightful to go on an adventure with. Beyond her work with Disney, she worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, creating multiple children’s books. While she had formal training in the arts, she crafted a distinct, whimsical, simplified style that continues to inspire artists and delight audiences today. It’d be so fun to paint side-by-side all over the world, and to pick her brain!
Kaitlyn: I had no idea! That’s amazing! Thank you so much for sharing and for joining us today to talk about your wonderfully fun book!
Shea is an illustrator and designer hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. She combines traditional skills with digital media to create vibrant, whimsical worlds. She’s a rare hybrid of dog and cat lover, an avid whistler, and she enjoys exploring the great outdoors, trying new cheeses, and cozying up in a nook with a book.
Online portfolio: designedbyshea.com
Instagram: @ designed.by.shea
Online Shop: Designed By Shea Etsy Store
Kaitlyn’s Review of We Got the Beat
This is such a fun book to share with kids! While you’re bopping and singing to the song, the kids are enjoying the extra fun you have while reading and you’ll all enjoy these super creative, bright illustrations!
You can enter in the follow ways (each earns you another entry into the random drawing)
- Comment on this post
- Share in the comments below that you added We Got the Beat to your Goodreads “Want to Read” list and/or your Amazon Wishlist
- Share in the comments that you ordered a copy of We Got the Beat
- Share in the comments that you did a purchase request for We Got the Beat at your library
- Quote retweet my tweet about this blog post on Twitter and tag three friends.
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez
PS I hope you can join in and listen today at 1 PST/ 4 EST for an interview I have the pleasure of doing with Cardinal Rule Press, more info and zoom link here: https://www.facebook.com/events/627405677919354
PPS Fall Writing Frenzy selections are already off to a wonderful start, three matches have already been made by their donors! It will still take us a while to dive through them all and match everyone with their donor, but we’re so excited to see the community still reading, encouraging, and connecting, keep it up, and thanks so much for inspiring all of us!