New "Rescue Sirens" art from Genevieve Tsai December 12, 2016 14:00

From Jess: 

"Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" interior illustrator Genevieve Tsai recently released a limited number of her third book of sketches, "For the Love of Lines: Vol. 3 - Fish Out of Water." Full of rough sketches, finished black-and-white illustrations, and full-color pieces from Genevieve's personal and professional bodies of work, this book contains a TON of Genevieve's amazing "Rescue Sirens" concept art, thumbnails, and drafts. It's so cool (and humbling) to see her "Rescue Sirens" artwork gathered together in one beautiful volume!

Although Genevieve sold out of her stock in no time flat, she tells us that she has plans to print a second run at some point in the future. The moment we know more, we'll announce it here -- this sketchbook really is a must-have for fans of "Rescue Sirens" and Genevieve's artwork. It turned out beautifully.

We also wanted to share with you some brand-new "Rescue Sirens" art from Genevieve!

She included this fantastic sketch of Kelby and a sweet little shark pal in the front of our copy of her sketchbook. Aren't they adorable?

You can view all of Genevieve's "Rescue Sirens" artwork in our Genevieve Tsai gallery, and you can see great behind-the-scenes material and alternate concepts from her interior illustrations on her website. If you aren't already, don't forget to follow Genevieve on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr, too!

"Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" Kindle edition on sale! November 25, 2016 10:34

From Jess: 

Black Friday is upon us, and, to celebrate, the Amazon Kindle edition of "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" is on sale for only $0.99! Get it at this special price before it swims away.

With autumn's chill starting to creep in, this is the perfect time to visit our Miami Beach mermaids and dream of summer. You can read the Kindle version of our novel on your Kindle (naturally!), but also on your desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone using Amazon's free app.

Buy your copy here!

Credit Where Credit Is Due (Or, don’t fear telling people you didn’t do something.) October 24, 2016 06:00

From Chris: 

Today I want to talk about something that has been on my mind almost from the day I started work at Disney over twenty years ago – well, actually, from before that, all the way back to art class at Foster Elementary School in Arvada, Colorado. And that is the subject of crediting artists fairly. That is, being open to telling people who did what.

I’ll begin with a story. When I was a youngster in the fourth grade, we were all of us making clay pots in art class. Rather than make another clay pot, which we had all done before, I decided to do something different. I made a little blob of a figure, just a head, with a gaping open mouth and lolling tongue on which I placed a big vitamin capsule. It was bold, fun, and colorful. It was pop art and it stood out. It stood out right up until the kid next to me saw mine and made the very same thing that I made only not at all as nice-looking as mine and he got his placed in the case in the school’s lobby and mine wasn’t. He never said a word about where he got such a nifty idea and I’m sure never wondered later about what that all felt like to me as I walked into the front door of the school every day for the rest of the year and saw my fine idea with someone else’s name on it.

That stayed with me.

I’ve had and continue to have the wonderful privilege of working in feature animation. I’ve worked hard to get here – countless hours of storyboarding, pitching, rejection, notes; moments of despair, terror, elation, and pride. At the end of the process, we take press tours. If you like the sound of your own voice, this is your big chance to hear it. In a single day you might talk to a hundred or more reporters in almost as many interviews.

One of the things that I have learned is that many times different reporters are asking very similar questions. Sometimes identical questions. Needless to say, on questions you struggled to answer on your first stop in Denver, you are a whiz at answering by the time you land in Japan. And in many, many cities and many hours in a folding chair, I have noticed something: there is a decided tendency to want to boil a massive collaborative process down into a simple, singular droplet of credit. People will ask how in the world Dean Deblois and I made “How To Train Your Dragon,” or how we made “Lilo & Stitch,” etc. I used to think it was just a question, but as time passed I began to realize that sometimes they were actually wondering how we two did it. That is, just us.

What I learned from my press tours is that even if you do list off particular artists, animators, painters, engineers, producers, and the like that were the true muscle that got a movie made, their names rarely (if ever) make it into print. It’s either too tedious or perceived to be uninteresting, and the people I credited and the stories I told about them tended to vanish. So I made it a point in interviews to spend as much time as needed redirecting credit for particular moments, lines, designs, and story turns to the people that really deserved it. Again, it never really stuck. But that doesn’t mean I stopped doing it. I make it a full-time job.

This all comes to mind because, in this age of the internet, misinformation and the omission of information is widespread. And I came here to talk to not only artists, but to anyone who loves art, literature, film, etc. Recently it became clear that in a preponderance of internet chatter, and even several instances of meeting people in person, a book that I had the privilege to contribute to, “Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist,” has wrongly been credited entirely to me. Not a couple of times, but in many of the posts about it. This isn’t just careless – at best it’s pretty hurtful – but, at worst, it actually changes the history of something that someone else worked hard to create. In the case of “Rescue Sirens,” I neither crafted the world and the story, nor drew the interior illustrations. Those credits belong, respectively, to my wife, Jessica Steele-Sanders, and to artist Genevieve Tsai.

Now, you might think this sort of thing is limited to casual postings on the internet. But it’s not. I was surprised recently to see that an “Art of” book somehow forgot that I worked on a film. And it was a film I actually co-wrote and co-directed. Reading about my non-self was like seeing me fade out of one of those photographs in a movie about a time-travel accident. This still wouldn’t be super-odd except when you consider that the book was actually published by the actual studio that I directed the film for. It is here that I must note that this sort of thing never happened at Disney. To contrast that, Pixar included me in a book about story even though I didn’t work there but was part of a punch-up session for “Toy Story.” They remembered something that happened twenty years ago and followed up with me. That’s class. And that’s what happens when artists look out for one another.

I should add that when someone does something for the first time, I think it’s especially important to get the story straight, and to do it right away. It was Jessica who invented “Rescue Sirens.” She first imagined the world, then created and wrote the mythology and the characters. After that, she outlined a strong story and wrote it. This is where I came in as a second writer. She and I wrote “Rescue Sirens” in tandem, just as Dean Deblois and I wrote “Lilo & Stitch” together. As for the interior illustrations, Genevieve Tsai created those based on a world that Jess saw very clearly and was able to transmit to Genevieve and myself. (And since I’m giving credit here, I must also note that my drawings on the front and back cover were colored by Edgar Delgado, while the Ocean Drive skyline was drawn by Teresa Martinez.) So if “Rescue Sirens” is anyone’s book, it is Jess’s book, indeed.

I seldom get on a soapbox, especially on the internet. But I’m not here to scold anyone; rather, I’m here to assure all of us who create things, and love things that someone else created, that it’s worth all our whiles to take the time and energy to credit people where it is due.

I’ve worked in cultures at Disney and Pixar where collaboration is celebrated. If you are young, just starting out, and something you did is getting attention, I can assure you that you can credit anyone that partnered with you till you’re blue in the face and it won’t detract a bit from your own accomplishment. It will do quite the opposite. We recently met with James Cameron at DreamWorks and one of the things I was impressed by was the sheer number of names he spilled as he discussed everything from camera rigs to animation to software development. He not only knew what everyone did, he spent a lot of time letting us know who did what.

As filmmakers and artists, we owe it to each other to get the story straight. If there are two or three or more writers’ names, don’t boil it down to one. The real story of how things like movies and books are made is far more interesting when the collaborations are revealed and individual talents celebrated. I have been quite fortunate to have worked with people who were confident in their own talents and never hesitated to throw credit and attention my way. Directors like Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff took the time to mention my contributions on “The Lion King” and made sure the illustrations in the “Art of” book were credited properly – that helped me immensely as I went forward.

Books, interviews, and articles become a history. We owe it to each other to not leave people behind.

Dylan Bonner draws the Rescue Sirens September 12, 2016 15:20

From Jess:

I first ran across Dylan Bonner's work on Tumblr probably a year or two ago, and I loved what I saw: his use of shapes and colors is masterful; his illustrations are full of life and joy. They make you smile just to look at them!

Dylan's artwork has been featured on Buzzfeed ("This Man Had His Girlfriend Turned Into Disney Princesses For Valentines") and  E! News ("Alternate Reality: Disney Princesses Swap Lives and Wardrobes!"; "See Disney Characters Getting Into the Holiday Spirit in Your Favorite Christmas Movies"), and with good reason: Dylan's work, to me, brings to mind Disney Legend Mary Blair, a character designer and concept artist whose work is timeless in its appeal.

This past spring, while Chris and I were preparing the paperback reprint of "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist," I saw one of Dylan's recent mermaid drawings, and, feeling sassier than usual, I decided to contact him to see if he'd be interested in taking a commission to draw one of our Rescue Sirens.

Fortunately for us, Dylan agreed, and we were so delighted with his drawing of Echo that we asked him to draw the rest of the girls and a group shot!

(Click to enlarge.)

Aren't they gorgeous? We're in love!

You can follow Dylan's wonderful artwork on Instagram, Tumblr, and deviantART; you can also purchase prints and other merchandise in his Society6 store.

Rescue Sirens x Siren Bath & Body giveaway on Instagram August 16, 2016 10:17

From Jess: 

I don't consider myself super girly (that's where Echo and Kelby get their tomboyishness, in fact), but I have a serious weakness for perfumes, especially tropical scents. I hoard them like a dragon hoards treasure; I love the way a scent can evoke a memory or help create a new one, and there's something really satisfying about seeing a line of bottles arranged carefully on a shelf. I went through a big bath and body mall chain phase in college, but today I prefer to buy from independent fragrance creators that I find online.

One of my favorites is Siren Bath & Body, a company that I discovered on Etsy this past March. I've been hooked ever since -- obviously, the shop's name and the theme are right up my alley, but it's more than just cute names and appealing packaging: the products themselves are awesome, and the owner, Jessi, is a woman after my own sea-loving heart. She's also friendly, professional, and REALLY good at what she does, which is why I love ordering from Siren Bath & Body.

I moved to California from Florida four and a half years ago, and every day I miss the warm ocean water and hot summer nights of my home state. Siren Bath & Body's summer collection -- including the scents I'm holding in the photo above: Tahitian Tiare, Wild Gardenia, Island Grapefruit (one of my favorites), and Aruba Coconut -- brings back sun-drenched memories and helps me cope when the thermometer dips below seventy-five degrees (brr!).

Why am I sharing this? Well, not only do I believe in supporting and promoting small businesses, but Jessi and I have also come up with a sweet-smelling Instagram giveaway to celebrate the paperback reprint of "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist"!

I asked Jessi if she could help me come up with five perfume oils inspired by the main characters in "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist," and she did a phenomenal job taking my descriptions and turning them into amazing, unique scents. Nim is a tropical paradise in a bottle: a little floral, a little fruity, a little salty, and oh-so-summery; Kelby is warm and sweet with a bit of spiciness; Echo is crisp, no-frills ocean spray; Pippa is fueled by sugar and coffee; and Maris is cool and sophisticated, a refreshing bubbly drink on a hot summer day. The process of choosing just the right scent for each girl was so much fun, and the final products are mer-mazing. I can’t thank Jessi enough -- and her awesome Siren Bath & Body team, too!

Just look at that fintastic package design! I'm crazy about how these turned out.

You can win a set of all five scents, one of Siren Bath & Body's addictive Mermaid Kisses lip balm, and a signed paperback copy of the book by entering the giveaway. Follow both @sirensoap and @rescuesirens on Instagram, then tag a friend in Siren Bath & Body's post. (Each friend you tag per comment is a bonus entry, too.) The winner will be announced this Saturday, August 20th!

To see more of Siren Bath & Body's wonderful products, visit their website and their Etsy, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

UPDATE: Siren Bath & Body announced the giveaway winner, and the lucky entrant was Instagram user @shred_mel_shred!

Mel received a signed copy of "Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist" along with a Mermaid Kisses lip balm and the five exclusive "Rescue Sirens"-inspired perfumes, a picture of which she posted when they arrived:

Thanks to everyone who entered, and thanks once again to Siren Bath & Body for collaborating with us on this giveaway!