Sometimes, university assignments turn into books. When she was tasked with creating a 6-page creative spread for her graphic design course, Meg Blackburn decided instead to create an entire children’s book, The Spotty Socked Lops.
Four print runs later, and The Spotty Socked Lops is now sold at retailers across Newcastle, alongside children’s clothing and digital collage prints inspired by the book.
Bessie and Bean were the inspiration
The story follows the exploits of Meg’s two rabbits, Bessie and Bean. The bunnies journey through Newcastle’s top locations, exploring how the areas have changed during a global pandemic. Meg came up with the idea for the book when she looked at her bunnies and wondered what they thought was going on in the world. She then realised that this complete confusion must be how children were viewing the situation as well. “The situation is difficult enough for those of us who can understand what’s going on,” said Meg.
As well as being a children’s book, Meg wanted to include a message for adults and kids alike about coming together as a community when faced with difficult circumstances. She ends her book with the line, “2020 has been a year, a big fat wrecking ball of fear, but it’s time we begin to face the facts, and as one make a positive impact”.
A labour of love
Meg wrote the text and created the illustrations for her book entirely by herself. She went around Newcastle taking photos of iconic landmarks and landscapes, then used a digital collage technique to use textures from these photos to create her drawings. For example, when Bessie and Bean visit the beach, the illustration is made from images of Newcastle ocean and sand.
As a self-published author, Meg used the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe to raise money for printing. Since publishing The Spotty Socked Lops, Meg has been attending local markets and holding readings at local retailers across Newcastle. Currently, you can find her book at Lollipop Kids, The Kiosk at Newcastle Beach, Soul Kollective, and The Jones Girls. She’s also working with Newcastle-based ethical clothing brand Four Little Buns to create more Bessie and Bean inspired children’s clothing.
The book, as well as clothing and digital prints, are also available online
Local connections were key
The whole production process was a genuine community effort, so Meg decided to keep printing local by working with WHO. “I want people to support me so I should support them as well,” said Meg.
“Daniel talked me through printing terms like bleeds and slugs and went through things multiple times to make sure I understood,” added Meg.
Meg plans to release a follow-up book by the end of this year, where we can see Bessie and Bean exploring the rest of the world (even if it’s just in their dreams).
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