Kawaii Shark Ita Bag Update/What's With All the Pins? September 30, 2019 23:42

From Jess: 

My Kawaii Shark ita bag, designed as a companion piece for our “Rescue Sirens” enamel pins, is in mass production! Hooray! While we wait for the bags to finish being manufactured and shipped, I wanted to give you an up-close look at the bag and its functionality.

Let the video clips commence! (The first and third posts contain multiple clips.)



I want to take this opportunity to once again thank everyone who pre-ordered this bag and made it possible to produce it. I'm really proud of it, and I hope you'll all love it as much as I do! If you missed out on the pre-order, I'll be making the bags available once they're in-hand and everyone who participated in the pre-sale has received theirs.

Now, on to a related question: Jess, what's with all the pins? I thought you wrote mermaid books.

I do write mermaid books! I've also been spending most of this year assembling a pitch book for an animated series, coming up with episode ideas, guiding the creation of additional concept art, and meeting with companies. But finding the right home for "Rescue Sirens: Mermaids On Duty" isn't an easy task, and we're still searching. I'd be lying if I didn't say this was frustrating and disappointing.

And that's one reason that I've been producing enamel pins as a side project these past nine months. They're fun, easy, and fast! When you've been working on something for years, it's nice to be able to finish a project; it's the difference between running a sprint and a marathon. It's really rewarding to see a concept through to completion.

My husband and co-author Chris has been working on his current film, "Call of the Wild," for the past couple of years, and it's all but consumed our lives. We're both really looking forward to getting back to "Rescue Sirens"; we miss writing together, and we miss expanding the world of our lifeguard mermaids. But in the meantime, I want to keeping creating little bits of treasure, like the mermaid pins that I've been making, to bring Nim, Kelby, Echo, Pippa, and Maris to life in new ways until we can finish the second novel.

But I understand that not everyone is into pin collecting or ita bags! That's why I've made an Instagram account solely for all things pin and pin-adjacent: @pinsofsteele. That's where I'll be posting most of my pin announcements, as well as future updates on the Kawaii Shark bag.

Making a splash at BookBar in Denver, part 1 November 21, 2017 09:10

From Jess: 

Chris and I had such a wonderful time at our recent appearances at BookBar in Denver, Colorado! Chris grew up in Colorado and we have family and friends in Denver, so any excuse to visit the Centennial State is welcome -- particularly when it involves reading and signing both of our "Rescue Sirens" books!

Thursday, November 9th

Our first of two events focused on our water-resistant children's book, "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up," released earlier this year and fully illustrated by the amazing Dylan Bonner. I opted to squeeze into my gorgeous custom-made Merbella Studios silicone mermaid tail for this one, which takes ten or fifteen minutes of Chris's help -- and a ton of water-based lube. (Mermaid life: not as glamorous as one might think!) I got ready in BookBar's offices located next to their awesome indie bookstore/wine bar, then was wheeled out onto the sidewalk and into position inside BookBar perched atop a rolling chair. We mer-made quite the entrance!

By the event's official start time of 4:30 PM, the little shop was crammed with kids -- mostly between the ages of five and seven, I'd guess -- and their parents, and I delighted in the shocked, drop-jawed expressions of the young mermaid fans.

Some kids were shy (which, as a lifelong shy person, myself, I totally understand -- especially when approaching a mermaid with flukes wider than some of these children were tall!), but I got lots of hugs, and one tiny girl sporting a Pebbles Flintstone hairdo seemed particularly captivated by me and my tail. She brandished a mermaid doll in one hand and clutched a mermaid purse in the other, staring at me and repeating, "Mermaid. Mermaid. MERMAID!" with adorable urgency. (She'd just had a mermaid-themed birthday party, we learned, so it was probably blowing her mind that there was a mermaid in the bookstore.)

There were the skeptics, of course. Mostly the boys.

"Are you a real mermaid?" demanded one boy.

"Yes. Are you a real human?" I replied.

"Yes!" he responded, taken aback.

"Well, how do I know that for sure? Can you prove it?" I asked him. Turning their questions around on kids seems to throw 'em for a loop.

In the lead-up to my introduction and reading, I showed some of the kids short video clips on my "shellphone" of myself swimming in my tail, both in the pool and in the ocean in Hawaii. That was enough to convince most of them that I was the real deal, and prompted the cutest debate between another of the boys and a girl with fluffy blonde hair and glasses (she could've been me at that age!).

"Of course she's a real mermaid," Chris and I overheard the little girl say passionately to the boy seated next to her. "She swims in the ocean!"

We were utterly charmed. Kids are magic.

I'd brought a "Rescue Sirens" coloring sheet that BookBar made copies of and distributed to the gathering of guppies, and I handed out blue iridescent resin mermaid scales as a special souvenir. ("Why are these hard and the scales on your tail are soft?" "Good question! After I shed my scales, they dry out and get hard." "Like Play-Doh?" "Yes! Like Play-Doh.")

Shortly after 4:30 PM, BookBar staff introduced me and Chris, and I dove into reading "Rescue Sirens and the Great Fish Round-Up" to my young audience.

(Click to enlarge.)

Once I'd finished reading the story, Chris and I signed copies of the book and handed out more mermaid scales. The entire event went really well, and it was such a thrill to acquaint a whole new group of people with the Rescue Sirens!

Seeing so many families bringing their children to participate in a book reading really warmed my heart; I grew up with my nose stuck in a book everywhere I went, and I found it incredibly encouraging that these kids showed up to listen to an old-fashioned story rather than to look at a screen. That made me really happy.

As always, I want to thank my husband and partner in all things, Chris, for making this possible -- not only is he my co-author, but, when we travel, he also makes sure that my mermaid tail gets to its destination and home again safely (which is no small matter!), he helps me get all mermaided out (something I absolutely couldn't do on my own), and then he takes beautiful photographs to commemorate special events like these. I couldn't be more grateful that he's my pufferfish.

Tomorrow: part two!

INKtober 2017 October 23, 2017 06:00

From Jess: 

Now, if you've read our past blogs, you know about Mer-May -- when everyone spends a month drawing mermaids -- but are you familiar with Inktober?

As the name suggests, artists take the month of October to work on inking traditionally: with a brush, pen, or quill; some draw every day and follow prompts (just like the prompt lists you'll find during Mer-May), but other artists just draw what they feel like as often as they can. No matter how you do it, Inktober is a celebration of all things inky! With so many people creating their drawings digitally now, it's awesome to see such a dedicated return to hand-drawing.

My husband and "Rescue Sirens" co-author, Chris Sanders, is a master with a brush and a bottle of ink. While he often colors his drawings digitally in Photoshop, Chris still sketches them on paper with a pencil, then inks them with a Winsor & Newton Series 7 sable brush. It's like magic to watch, and, last Inktober, Chris recorded himself inking a cute witch pin-up for Halloween, which I then edited into a short time-lapse video.

Several months ago, I did the same for an illustration of Rescue Siren Kelby that Chris drew earlier this year as part of the artwork on our booth backdrop at San Diego Comic-Con. I waited until now to upload the video because, hey, Inktober!

Take a look:

Isn't it mesmerizing?

As a bonus, let's revisit the adorable chibi-style drawing of Rescue Siren Nim that Chris offered as a prize in our "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest this past May:

Inking even a relatively simple drawing like Chibi Nim seems like witchcraft (appropriate for this time of year!), at least when it's done by someone as skilled as Chris. I could watch him ink all day long! Between Halloween (my favorite holiday) and Inktober, October is a pretty fin-omenal month.

If you'd like to see more "Rescue Sirens" videos, you can always visit our Videos page or our YouTube channel.

"Rescue Sirens" fan art contest deadline extension May 27, 2017 02:20

From Jess: 

Wow, everyone, we're so thrilled to see all the entries rolling in for our "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest on Instagram! We've had multiple requests for a deadline extension, so we've added two more days for you to work on your drawings: you now have until 12 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 31st to post your fan art! We'll select a winner at random and announce it later that day as the perfect way to bid farewell to Mer-May 2017.

In the meantime, Chris colored his chibi-style drawing of Nim using Procreate on his iPad Pro, and I added some music to the timelapse to make a short video for you to enjoy: 

Nim's tail turned out looking a tiiiiny bit greener than we thought it was when it was on the iPad (her tail is more of an aqua blue), but it's so fun to watch her colored in as if by magic!

Inking Rescue Siren Nim -- Chibi-Style! May 25, 2017 06:00

From Jess: 

Chris did a fin-omenal job on the cutie-patootie little chibi-style Nim drawing that we're offering as our #rescuesirensfanart contest prize, and he even set up one of his GoPros while he inked so he could film the process! I then took that footage and cut it into a short (very sped-up) video:

Fun, right? Someone as talented as Chris makes inking with a brush look positively cinchy, but he's practiced for many years to get that smooooth.

If you haven't entered our "Rescue Sirens" fan art contest over on Instagram, you still have a couple of days to do so; we're planning on announcing the winner sometime on Monday, May 29th. Maybe it'll be you, and then you can own this rare piece of official "Rescue Sirens" artwork!