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Meet Blazing A Trail’s Illustrator!

April 25, 2019
by Becky Ferrigno

Hello everyone!

Things are getting real over here! We are getting close to publication and I am getting more excited by the minute! I have received our first official presale order! I just can’t wait for June!

I hope you have been enjoying learning about the cast of characters in Blazing A Trail: The Minna Anthony Common Story. I wanted to take a moment and introduce you to one of the important behind the scenes members of our book team!

Meet Jennifer Varn, the illustrator, and publisher of Blazing A Trail.

Jen and I have been friends since middle school and through a series of lucky coincidences, she signed onto this project two years ago!

Although Jen and I have been friends for an incredibly long time, we haven’t been in the same place together to chat for years! I realized that I am not even sure how she ended up in the publishing business and I was interested in learning more. So I e-mailed her a few questions that she willingly answered!

As usual, Jen was honest, earnest and eloquent in her responses.

How did you get into illustration?

Making art was always a constant in my life. When I was a senior in high school I attended a special school trip to meet a few artists at their studios. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a visual storyteller, an illustrator. I went to college to further my education in the field of illustration and design.

What is your favorite part of the illustration process?

My favorite parts of the illustration process are researching and building the images directly on the canvas. While I do enjoy making traditional paintings for viewing on a wall, there is something so enjoyable about creating pieces that tell a story.  I enjoy being a storyteller and not necessarily depending on words to do it.

Not to be mistaken, I do love it when the words and pictures “dance” together but each illustration needs to be strong enough as a stand-alone without being the handmaiden of a description beside it. The most gratifying challenge is to make an illustration that says everything it needs to and leaves the door open for some interpretation.

What made you decide to start a publishing company?

Pocket Jennifer Publishing (PJP) began as a simple venture. I developed this small publishing company to help facilitate the publication of my own non-traditional works and the stories of other diverse emerging children’s book authors and illustrators. PJP curates and publishes children’s book stories, poems, songs, and art without the pressures of catering to mainstream commercial audiences. As big traditional publishing houses continue to take a painfully slow approach to diversity and inclusion – demographically and in content & style – in the literary and art world, PJP is making that its primary focus. It’s a diverse world, and it’s time to champion diverse voices.

What is your favorite part of the publishing process?

There are a few favorite moments that I have during the publishing process. One of them is signing on a new project and letting audiences see the creative process, the other is seeing all that emotional and physical labor finally being revealed by opening the box of the finished product – the book.

To learn more about the author, illustrator and my longtime friend, Jennifer Varn, check her out on Instagram @pocketjenniferpublishing or at http://www.jmvillustrations.com

Until next time, keep exploring and Get Outside Like Minna!