This year is the 250th birthday of St. Louis! Our city was founded in 1764 by Auguste Choteau and Pierre Laclede as a French fur trading post on the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River. St. Louis grew dramatically during the steamboat era and by 1900 we were the fourth largest city in the United States. In 1904 we hosted The Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, better known as the 1904 World’s Fair and by then St. Louis was leading the nation in brewing, shoemaking, automobile manufacturing, and aviation. We St. Louisans are proud of our heritage and so I was thrilled when Reedy Press contacted me to illustrate their new book Happy Birthday, St. Louis! This delightful children’s book is written by Carolyn E. Mueller, the author of Lily, A True Story of Courage and the Joplin Tornado and Bubbles, The Dwarf Zebu.
Creating the illustrations for Happy Birthday, St. Louis! was great fun. The publisher and author allowed me considerable artistic freedom and the book is the result of a healthy and respectful collaboration. For those who are interested in the process, I began each drawing with a rough thumbnail and evolved into a detailed pencil sketch. I draw all my preliminary sketches with Prismacolor pencils on transparent paper. Once the sketches were approved or modified, I scanned them into the computer and opened them in Adobe Illustrator. Placing the pencil sketch on a template layer, I drew the scenes on successive layers. Once the Illustrator art was finished, I took it into Photoshop and did the shading and highlights, using my Wacom digital pen and tablet. We hope you enjoy Happy Birthday, St. Louis! and welcome you to our fine city. By the way, Huff Post just did an article about us, raving about what a gem of a city it is and highlighting 26 wonderful things that make St. Louis a great place to visit. Here is the cover of the book and I hope you enjoy.