In a world of constantly-evolving technology, there has never been a better time for people to discover their own hidden creativity.
Digital art allows users to transform their ordinary photos into colourful artworks of their own, and is a process that emerging local author and illustrator, Maggie O, has used to create her first children’s book, The Elly Rose Adventures.
The Elly Rose Adventures follows the book’s namesake as she visits her Nana in Townsville, and is shown the city’s most recognisable attractions. Images in the book range from a Magnetic Island beach to the Crystal Creek bridge.
The book will come in two versions when released on 31 May: a general picture book, with full-page images and a few sentences per page, and a more in-depth ‘journal’, with more text for older children. Maggie said the factual side of the books had the potential to not only teach children to read, but promote tourism to the area as well.
“The readers will become mini-ambassadors for their area, and once my website gets rolling I’ll encourage kids to write in with a picture of where they live and why Elly Rose should come and visit them,” Maggie said.
“It encourages these younger ages to become tourism ambassadors and to not be afraid of travel. I know some of these books are already going to Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and the States – so people are sending them as gifts to family overseas to promote Australia.”
The idea to create a story out of the images came from Maggie’s experimentation with Photoshop.
“I’ve enjoyed creative writing since I was eight years old, writing my first chapter book at 10. I was frustrated because the illustrations would never come out how I saw them in my head; I couldn’t draw or paint. I’ve always liked taking photos though, and started learning Photoshop two years ago mainly to learn how to enhance my photography. From there, I got more and more creative and tried taking it the complete opposite way, manipulating my photos and creating works of art by digitally altering them.
“The concept for the books came from the images themselves: I had a heap of images of Townsville, with a hundred ideas in my head. I sort of work back-to-front, creating the base of the image first, then I write the story. Once I’ve written the story, I fine-tune the images.
“My ideas come from all sources: places I go, people I meet. My mind never stops inventing people and places. I have a kaleidoscope of images in my mind all waiting for something to be done with them.
“I love travelling and photography. I also love the patterns in nature, and the ancient architecture of buildings from eras gone by; ravaged by time. I see texture, colour and patterns and create art that tells its own story.”
Townsville won’t be the only destination Elly Rose visits – Maggie plans for Elly Rose to tour Australia, before trekking around the world.
“Now that this first story has all come together in the last 12 months, I’ve got more of a direction for where the character’s going to go. She’ll hopefully go to different places around Australia, country towns and big cities, and later overseas.
“When Elly Rose goes international, we’ll look at different cultures: in the countries where it’s customary to wear a headscarf, Elly Rose will probably wear one too. The story will explain why she wears it, or why she has to take her shoes off to go inside a church or mosque. It’ll hopefully subtly bring in different cultures from different places around the world and why they do things so kids have a bit more of an understanding. That’s the aim.”
The images that will feature in Elly Rose’s Townsville adventure are now on exhibition in Your Space, a gallery at the front of Thuringowa Central Library.
“The images in this exhibition are my test pilots – so we have some full images, and some slightly smaller prints with the captions of what is in them as well. All can be reproduced to full size, and are each limited edition. Once we get to 50 of each print, whether it’s a 12×12 or 5×5, they’ll all count towards the 50 sold. The next book will have its own set of limited edition images too.”
Catch the Elly Rose Adventures: Selfies from Townsville Exhibition at Your Space, Thuringowa Central Library from now until 1 May. The Ellie Rose Adventures: Selfies from Townsville and The Elly Rose Journals – Townsville books will be released on 31 May. For more information or to pre-order, visit the Elly Rose website or find The Elly Rose Adventures on Facebook.