It was fall, but the weather was still a bit balmy. We were sitting in the taproom we often frequented. My husband and I have a history of birthing brilliant (to us) ideas and conversing passionately over a couple pints; it’s remarkable how that particular liquid proof of God’s love and desire for us to be happy (according to Ben Franklin) triggers the creative flow.
We were having one of our "What are we doing with our lives?, Are we living authentically and honestly?, and But I know these are first-world problems" conversations. Chris was in the beginnings of the middle of the end of writing a memoir about his fleeting attempts to find meaningful work while making use of his education. He was feeling down about having so many potential illustrators flake out.
I said, “Wait, man! What if I illustrate the book?” He sweetly and thoughtfully told me he didn’t want to ruin my professional reputation. I was working as an art therapist for a nationally known children’s hospital in town. We decided I should use a pseudonym, just to be safe. Yes! With a little help from Hop Project and Nitro Stout, we concluded I'd be known as the illustrator Sheets Louise, the perfect nom-de-plume.
Over the winter, I concentrated my creative energy on making about 26 pen-and-ink illustrations for Chris’ memoir. Some were pretty good, others were terrible, a few were pretty hilarious. We decided using a pseudonym was ridiculous and that it was best to just go Full Monty. Isn’t it always best to go Full Monty anyway? The process of collaborating so creatively with my husband was an experience I’m extremely fortunate to have had, and I’m honored to be a part of the whole project. I’m so proud of our work together, and I hope you enjoy our efforts.
HARDBARNED! One Man's Quest for Meaningful Work in the American South, a memoir by Christopher J. Driver and illustrated by me, is available for purchase in a variety of places online, including Amazon.
Follow Chris' continuing adventures and random observations at www.hardbarned.com.