I enrolled in Storyteller Academy because I want to learn more about picture books: how they're made, what the industry is like, what to expect, or not to expect. I really wanted to join a community of individuals with the same passion that I have for creating pictures and words. Storyteller Academy is a great platform for that. I hope to join this amazing community and get to know people, both locally and around the world, that have the same passion.

Background in Animation

I recently published my first picture book, HOLLY'S DAY AT THE POOL. Before I get into how I made the book. I’ll talk a bit about how my background led to the publication of HOLLY'S DAY AT THE POOL. I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, and I’ve been working in the animation industry for about 17 years. I’ve had training in 2D animation as well as 3D animation. During that time, I had opportunities to work in television, games, live-action VFX and CG animated films. I’m currently an Animator at the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, CA.

Opportunity with Hyperion

I’ve been with Disney for about five years, and when I joined the studio, I found out they had a children’s book program called “The Walt Disney Animation Artist Showcase.” This program allows artists at the studio to create their own worlds and characters.

I decided to try it out. They required a synopsis or manuscript and a few illustrations to show what the book would look like.

As you will see, the illustration changed from the original pitch to the final, as it was a four-year process.

The Selection Process

The stories were reviewed by a group of directors at the studio and John Lasseter, as well as an editor and art director from Hyperion. When I made it through the first round, I got some notes back to work on a few things, and I submitted again. This happened a couple of times until they narrowed it down to a few books. I was very fortunate that my book was selected in 2015.

Working with Hyperion

From then on, I started to work directly with the editor and art director at Hyperion.

We brought a writer on to help with the manuscript, and after it was almost there, I started to sketch out the book. To be honest, I didn’t even know what a dummy was until earlier this year.

These are a few panels that didn’t make it in the book. It was pretty rough, but I like to work loose at the beginning, so I can get as many ideas out as fast as possible.

After the sketches were approved, I started to paint.

And that is how HOLLY'S DAY AT THE POOL came to be. I had so much fun working with Hyperion on this book that I wanted to learn more. I’ve always had a love of children’s books but never thought I would be able to make one. I believe enrolling in Storyteller Academy will help me to further my education about this incredible world.

Thanks for allowing me to share my process. I hope it was helpful.

You can find more of Benson's work and get to know him better on his website, Instagram, and Twitter.