Friday, July 22, 2016

Esther Piszczek's Patterned Peace

I first discovered Esther Piszczek in September 2013 at an opening reception in Canal Park's Amazing Grace. As I reflect on this it somewhat startles me because she has been so remarkably busy and productive in what turns out to be fewer than three years. In addition to producing her countless Zentangle-inspired designs*, she's conducted workshops and held classes, devoted considerable time to decorating an upright piano with her designs and following through with the production of a documentary film on the same, which was shared at the DuSu Film Festival this spring. Her designs have made mirrors come alive in new ways and can be found on playing cards, greetings cards and T-shirts.

As a logical extension, she has now produced a coloring book titled Patterned Peace. When I was young I once did a series of line drawings that I'd hoped to see produced as a coloring book. The drawings are gone, but I still like my working title: I Really Dig A Ten-Pound Smile. Esther did more than come up with an idea.

EN: How did your book come about?

Esther Piszczek: The best answer would be to send you to my Eternal Possibility blog post where I explain exactly that.

EN: Where did the title come from?

EP: I brainstormed several different names with the publishers, Whole Person Associates. It was challenging to find a name that wasn’t already taken, considering the coloring book craze that has taken hold over the last few years. The artwork is comprised wholly of patterns, as opposed to outlines of real things like birds, or landscapes or flowers filled in with patterns, so it made sense to include the word pattern in the title. We also wanted to convey the meditative/contemplative energy that coloring sometimes imbues. Considering that Whole Person Associates is a health and wellness publisher, it made sense to use the word peace, as well.

EN: What was the process for selecting the images in your book?

EP: I signed a contract to provide 40 images for the book and drew each image free hand using pen and ink. Some of the images were drawn in full, while some of them were drawn in part, then scanned, uploaded and rotated to create new patterns using simple graphic design. Aligning the duplicate, rotated images with each other to create larger patterns is the only way in which the artwork was manipulated graphically.

This book is unique in that it also includes a pattern index, which is an index of each individual pattern I used in creating the larger images. I drew each pattern individually to create the index. The publisher gave me sole creative control over the artwork and which patterns I chose to use, so the selection process really originated and ended with my own creativity. Fortunately, they loved the outcome.

EN: What was the most rewarding aspect of this project for you personally?

EP: As a Certified Zentangle (R) Teacher, it is rewarding to me that this coloring book, unlike others I’ve seen, provides guidance, through text and the Tangle Index, which encourages those who color to also learn to draw patterns and, thereafter, color their own artwork. I love that the publisher and I created a book that is really different from everything else I’ve seen out there in the coloring book world.

EN: What was the biggest challenge?

EP: The biggest challenge was creating 40 original pieces of artwork while balancing a number of variables. To prepare, I read numerous coloring book reviews on Amazon to see what people liked and didn’t like about different books. A common complaint was that the pieces were too detailed. So I took into consideration the size and difficulty of each piece of artwork I created. I incorporated some simple patterns and smaller patterns along with the more detailed and larger images to give people a range of size and difficulty to choose from depending on their mood. I found juggling the larger vision for the book’s look and feel while creating so many pieces on a deadline was both challenging and rewarding.

EN: What have you learned so far from this experience?

EP: I’ve learned that it takes a lot of hard work to create a high quality book. I am grateful that the publisher hired a talented and flexible graphic designer to do the layout and import the images. I learned that I do not want to be a graphic designer when I grow up. This project stretched me artistically and professionally in so many meaningful ways. I’m grateful that the hard work of the entire publishing team is evident in Patterned Peace and hope that all those who buy it enjoy it.

EN: Where can people find a copy for themselves?

EP: Patterned Peace is available locally at The Bookstore at Fitger’s and Explorations Toy Store in the Village Mall, 2322 Mountain Shadow Drive. It is also available at wholeperson.com under “New Releases” and on Amazon.com.

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* Certified Zentangle® teacher Esther Piszczek left the practice of law in 2008 to live more creatively.

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