Hi, I'm Mr. Hillyer AKA 'Mr. Illustrator'
When I first started working as a summer camp counselor at an art camp I was hesitant but excited. Normally my day job is after school care with the parks department and has nothing to do with Art. One major change: from part time 22 hrs a week during the school year to 40 hours a week at camp. I thought that I wasn't going to have as much time to work on my projects. I was wrong. I wasted less time and used it more purposefully. I completed my first book in the Froots and Stoof universe called Citrus and it's still currently awaiting a response from representation.
This sweeter side of my illustration only began in the last year and I'm still surprised how familiar it all feels. I never thought that I was going to be making cute things for kids but it's a side of my work that I desperately needed and now wouldn't trade away. Still, I imagined my impact would come from the audiences that read my book in a year or two when and if it became published. Additionally, I minimized my expectations because the response thus far to my work was low and sparse. However, the impact of my work at camp was immediate.
I began to show the kids my work the very first week. I started off small by drawing things here and there and ended up bringing portfolios (both scary and sweet: yes, yes some of the kids LOVED the scary stuff which lifted my spirits), sharing my crazy ideas and drawing on special cards, painting characters and making collages for the kids to spend their hard earned 'art man' dollars on at the end of the week.
Their enthusiasm for my work motivated me to keep going. Kids are brutally honest. If something sucks they'll tell you. One time we were playing I SPY on the bus and I had a red mark on my neck that morning. You can guess what they spied. My one insecurity that day! Kids are also unafraid to LOVE... and they showed me so much love which I needed. They asked me weekly where they could buy my books, when they would be published, how to make their own and if I had heard anything from the 'book people'.
One day I saw a kid drawing something while I was visiting a different camp. Upon inspection I recognized it as one of my characters: Officer Blueberry! Wow. My little drawings were spreading around to other camps like a disease... and yes I wanted it to continue because it validated my work, time and efforts. It meant so much to me that these kids were sharing what I created. I continued to give and want to share more and more with all of you.
I made an impact. Not the impact I had imagined: on facebook, instagram or tumblr... impact on the kids in the community which is much more meaningful and important. My work and influence was a positive force for those kiddos and I'm going to miss them, their impact on me and their enthusiasm greatly.
Here's my favorite fan fiction (by Maya) from this summer:
Here's some more images of their fan art for your perusal.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post.
If it interested you please consider following my accounts on instagram: @natehillyer and @frootsandstoof.
If you'd like to help me keep making more and better work consider supporting me financially . I have plenty of products and am always open to new ideas.
All the best,