Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Inventing a monkey

Telling stories is something I've enjoyed all my life. Even when I was really little I made up stories.  I like to create characters and creating a different kind of world. When I grew older I started telling my siblings the same story about a little monkey for years (with the same characters, but many different adventures) and somehow the characters from that story have been growing along with my siblings and me.

 In that story my siblings always demanded that the little monkey had to do something "crazy" or "scary" or "funny", but most importantly of all he had to be an adventurous monkey. Slowly a storyline started to grow in my head. This was also the moment where I knew I had to write a book with Tahira.

The most difficult part of creating the story was to actually give my characters a personality, and with this personality they also had to start looking unique. This is where I started searching for the perfect type of monkey.

Since there are lots of famous monkey chimpanzees (like Curious George, just to name one) I knew it couldn't be a chimpanzee. (Although they are so adorable too and actually my favorite monkeys!) I thought of a gorilla for some time but again I knew too many famous gorilla stories.

 This is when I started researching monkeys on the web (my eyes would spin at the end of the day, I felt like I was in the zoo, looking at all these crazy but cute animals). I browsed the web for quite some time, eager to find the sweetest looking monkey on the planet. Some of the monkeys I found looked quite strange and I always had a good laugh - for example this spectacled langur is hilarious:
And then came the day when I discovered the beautiful Colobus monkey - and once I read about him I realized he has so many interesting characteristics, beginning with their mixture of black and white, their white babies, their extreme love of leaves... I just felt like it was the right monkey to choose.

Once I discovered Colobus I realized how many animals exist out there- and I was completely oblivious! Such a beautiful and interesting creature, living out there in Africa, and I didn't even know it! Surely other people must feel the same way!

When I told TJ about finally having found the right monkey she was as excited and she immediately started researching the surroundings of the Colobus monkey. After that she even started sketching Colobus and when I saw her first sketch I knew I had found the perfect monkey.

 I think TJ also fell in love with Colobus- the minute she saw him. Just like me. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Character Design: Migwi

Ciao! TJ here!  

So the journey regarding the drawing element shall start with this post! I'm still at the beginning phase of the character design and I'm learning a lot and probably will learn a lot more the upcoming weeks. But if you stick around, you will see and read about it all.

First thing that I did? Lots and lots of research and I am still in the middle of this. As you know, the setting of the story is Africa as Migwi lives there. Africa is known for beautiful landscapes and many animals, but before I even look at this, I have to tackle the main character and capture his essence as a believable and fun character.
When Susanna first told me about the Colobus monkey, I didn’t know what type of monkey it was.  The fur is what struck me the most, so pretty. After googling a bit more, I fell in love with this little monkey, simply because it's not your typical monkey for a story (you can read a bit more about the Colobus monkey in the previous post).

However, creating a stable character to draw many times in different poses, isn't something I have done a lot so far, so it's a challenge. A fun one though. The drawings you see here, they have been drawn very quickly and normally I'd never show these to a big audience as they are just for myself to see to what extent I could capture what I had in my mind back then. Also to see what I find difficult and how detailed I want to go.
You know, the header monkey is the very first Migwi I drew and so far the favorite amongst many I know. The Migwi you see know, seems a bit older, but I didn't pay that much attention to the monkey in general.

I have to keep this in mind as baby Colobus monkeys are white and Miwgi isn't that young, but not that old either. Plus, I have to keep his parents in mind as well and...he has a baby sister.

So my tricky points so far are as following:
- The fur as the color palette is very limited, only black and white. For the monkey anyway.
- Making sure it doesn’t look like a skunk. Seriously.

Do enlarge the picture for a better view.

You will see the character change over time as I still haven't found my perfect Migwi. However I'll keep in mind how most people like the header Migwi! I probably ask you for advice as well ^_^

Till next post, everyone!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Character Introduction: Migwi

Hello Everyone!

It's been a while since the last post, lots to do and to arrange, but we're back. So, since you know us a bit better now, let's have a closer look at the main character. Oh! If you don't know us, please have a look at the About Us tab.

The main character is a little Colobus monkey who will go on a journey to find a new home for his family. Why? You will find this out soon! As time passes you will get to know more and more about Migwi and his friends.
Isn't the fur just gorgeous? Photo from

Why a Colobus monkey? The Colobus monkey is an endangered species that lives in the forests of Africa. Our little character is the Black & White Colobus. The fur is amazing and these monkeys mainly live in the tops of the trees and to move around they jump from branch to branch. Which is quite an impressive sight! They have 4 fingers, so no thumbs and this makes them different from other monkeys. They love to chew leaves all day long, a Colobus monkey looks very sweet when it stuffs a large amount of leaves into its mouth. We also found that the monkeys look very cute, especially their little white babies, that we just had to write a story about them.
Photo from

By choosing an endangered animal, we want to shine some light on them and make people aware of their situation. Once you find out more about our story you will learn more about why they are endangered.You see, it’s not going to be a pretty story alone, we hope that whoever reads it, learns a bit more about this animal as well.
Munch, munch, munch! Photo from

Why the name Migwi? The Colobus monkey lives in Africa, so an African name made sense and Migwi appealed to us from the start. We looked for the meaning and it seems it means ‘arrows’, but then again on some sites it said it had no meaning. Oddness.
Fly, fly, fly! Photo from

Next post will be about drawing!!Stay tuned for this. Also, if you know people who would like to stay up to date feel free to forward this to them :D.

Till next post everyone!

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Friendship and a Monkey

Welcome welcome!
This shiny new blog will document our new creative adventure and collaboration on a children’s story. But...let’s start with the ‘Who are we?’ part. We are Susanna & TJ. Some of you may TJ as the illustrator who floats around the blog, A Look in a Creative Mind and others may know Susanna from the blog Trade Your Talent and of course others may know us both. But maybe it's also fun how we got to know each other? Let's start!

One day I was looking for an artist who would like to do an interview for my blog, Trade Your Talent. This was when I stumbled upon TJ's blog" A look in a creative mind" and I basically just gaped at her beautiful header of a tree and her many colorful birds. I was so happy when she agreed to do an interview with me  for my blog and I don't even remember how it happened but we started emailing regularly. These emails just became longer and longer, sometimes we joked that we were writing novels to each other. I soon realized that TJ is always up for a creative challenge and so I decided to just go for it and ask her: "TJ, what do you think of creating a children's book together?" 
        I was really excited and nervous about her reply and when she agreed my stomach was full of happy butterflies and I couldn't believe my luck. I already had some small ideas about the story, especially because I kept thinking back to her colorful header and from this point on I knew our story would be about a monkey in the rainforest...

You know, I really had to think back and figure out when and how I met Susanna! It feels like we've been talking for much longer than just a few months! I think Susanna left a comment on my blog a few months ago and I got curious, so I visited her blog and saw she showcased Talent from all over the World! I'm not sure either how we started emailing regulary, but you know when you've found a new awesome friend! Ah yes, the emails turned into little novels, which was really cool as creative ideas are always floating around with me. When Susanna asked me to be part of a new project and she told me what it was about...I immediately said yes. I was really honored that she wanted to work with me on this project. If a few simple sentences of a story sparked so many scenes and colors in my head...something must be right about it. You know, sometimes you get ideas, but they quickly die after a didn't happen with this and I'm so excited to work with her! It's going to be a challenge to capture scenes that tell more than 1000 words, but I've no doubt that we will succeed with this. Are you guys ready to join us in the wilderness? 

Ah you never know what opportunities lurk in the World Wide Web huh? This blog will be our personal diary where we document, discuss and share everything that comes on our path until the final creation of the book and application.