Hello, Star by Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic and Vashti Harrison
Honestly, so much ran through my heart every time I got a glimpse of Vashti’s images for this book, and early on I saw several interior pieces that made me gasp and scream for my family to come look with me.
But when our team shared the cover with me, I was snatched completely breathless. All I could do was bring my laptop to my husband and sons and point at the screen. I honestly couldn’t even speak.
What ran through my heart was the thumping, jumping, tears-sparking-behind-eyes feeling of a wish truly fulfilled.
Vashti: I created all the base drawings for this book in colored pencil. I sort of treated it like an underpainting - doing a tonal value drawing in a single color, scanning it then coloring on top. I worked with Faber Castell Polychromos colored pencils in a medium value red on Vellum Bristol paper. I didn’t want to go too dark or too light, and red was what I had – it was early in the 2020 lockdown so I wasn’t able to get to the art supply store! It worked! And once in Photoshop I adjusted the colors and added more color on top. I still did all my sketches digitally though, sized them for my printer/scanner, printed them out, made a makeshift transfer paper with chalk pastel and traced my sketch onto the Bristol. Then scanned that in! Lots of steps!
Stephanie: Ack! It’s hard to be a writer who can’t write things like this, but I’ll give it a go:
When a small girl learns a star is dying, her desire not to let the star die alone sets her on an ambitious path of discovery and dedication that will take her far beyond Earth and immerse her in the mysteries of the universe. With blazingly brilliant art by Vashti Harrison, this book demonstrates just what the smallest spark of compassion can do to expand our hearts, our worlds, and our dreams.
Hello, Star is such a lovely and poetic story. I really wanted to make it feel soft and fairy-tale like. I liked the juxtaposition of the science and technology with the pastel blues and purples. I always choose colors that represent the protagonist of a book and work from there. Here I started with a greyish bluish mint and then made a full palette of soft tones, to help make it feel soft throughout.
Did you know every book I’ve illustrated up to this point has been fully digital- done completely in Photoshop? I love working digitally, I feel very comfortable with those tools and work quickly but I was excited to switch things up. This was my first opportunity to take my time and experiment with so many different tools and media to find the right thing for this book. I did lots of samples and tests in chalk pastels, gouache, before landing on colored pencils. I also did some tests with photographing iridescent and metallic watercolors on glass and plexiglass to create deep space, in the end though it was almost too intense and realistic and lost that sweet fairy tale in space look I wanted!
Stephanie, please finish the following sentence starters:
But this book is also dedicated to every reader who holds it and their own dreams together in their heart.
Story is vital. Story is powerful.
Story is what we share.
Story brings us together
in front of fires
Story is a blanket
we tuck around our hearts
at any time
it’s called upon
to do so.
Story connects us in a way
that nothing else can.
It opens us up to what we know to be
our own truths
making us feel less alone.
Story opens us up to people
who are different from us
in every way.
Story sends us far away
only to bring us back again.
Story gets under our skin
and nudges its way
our core of self.
Story writes empathy
into the waiting pages
of our souls.
Thank you, Stephanie and Vashti!
vashtiharrison.com or on Instagram and Twitter @vashtiharrison.