Can I just gush for a minute? You know when you have that ancient chemistry heart-strings magic connection with someone? Well, that’s what happened when I met Aaliyah aka PeanutBuddarArt and her family in February at Harold Washington Library featuring Soulful Chicago authors for Black History Month.
It was an instant, “Hey fam!” feel. Not only did they feel like home, but Aaliyah is a mind-blowing artist. The kind of artist I
was looking for in the very beginning of this journey. I told her and her mom Kelli about my plan for The Hibouleans to be an animated series and how it would be so perfectly fitting for Aaliyah to be on the illustration team. I told them that I wish I had met them first because I had already partnered with another talented illustrator and while he wasn’t her, he was still cosmically gifted and I could see him doing beautiful work bringing The Hibouleans to life.
Fast forward to a failed second chance, a second ghosting, and a lost $50 deposit…
And then I thought, hold up, didn’t I ask for this? I did. I asked for this.
I won’t go into details, but I will refer you to my previous post, point No. 4 — draw your own conclusions. Hehe. Draw. Anyway.
At first, I was distraught and disappointed. And then I thought, hold up, didn’t I ask for this? I did. I asked for this. And the Universe delivered.
I reached out to Kelli, and said “Hey, remember how I said that I wish Aaliyah could be my illustrator? Well, now she can!”
And Team Hey Fam was born. Aaliyah captured the essence of The Hibouleans in all of the best ways. She took something that doesn’t exist anywhere but inside my head, and brought them to life. She breathed a new vision into my characters that I never could have done alone or with any other artist.
And the truly amazing thing? Aaliyah is 14 years old. She’s the same age as Taryn; she’s equipped with the same gifted curiosity; she emits the same depth of wonder and the same timbre of laughter. It’s as if Aaliyah is drawing her own story. I couldn’t have wished for a better family to — oh wait — yes, I could. I did wish for this. They are my actual dreams come true.