Tell us about yourself and your art.:
Hi, I’m Wendy K Gray, Voice Over Actor and Creator of Sidewalk Stories! A series of self-published problem-solving books, coloring books, audio books, APPS and songs for kids! Sing the “Stop Think Act” song with Bethany Butterfly and problem-solve at the Magical ACB Sidewalk! Which Sidewalk path will they choose, Option A, B or C?
As a professional voice over actor of twenty years I voiced all my audio books, write and sing all the songs and even make all videos on youtube. I don’t draw, at least not well. This, I leave to the brilliant, Kate Shannon. I love coloring which is why we made ALL the stories into coloring books. Yes! The exact story book made into a coloring book.
What inspired you and your art style?
Creating Sidewalk Stories began from the Sidewalk Stories Theme Song I wrote while out walking in the Los Angeles neighborhood I lived in. I sat down on the sidewalk and watched an entire world going on around me. By the time I got home, I was racing into the recording booth to lay down the Theme Song. The characters and stories developed from there and are simply little pieces of me… all from a song I wrote. When searching for a children’s illustrator I discovered Kate Shannon on the internet. I saw a drawing of a Moon, in a row boat, smiling, on the water. I knew she was the one for Sidewalk Stories!
Do you have any unusual drawing habits?
I drew the original sketch I sent to Kate in Ireland. It’s embarrassing but she got the idea of the habitat I wanted to create. She is such a pro. I can’t believe how fast she is and how expressive she has made the Sidewalk Stories cast. You can follow the entire story in each coloring book, without the words, because of Kates Shannons drawings.
What artists have influenced you?
I will forever be a fan of Jim Henson, The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and Peyo (the pen name of Pierre Culliford) who created The Smurfs. But also Seth MacFarlane who stepped in eleven years ago to help me get some meetings and pitch Sidewalk Stories as an animated series, which is still my ultimate goal.
I think it’s wonderful that Adult Coloring has become so popular. My first one was gift, Darice Garden Flowers
Do you have any advice for new artists?
Practice and be prepared. The best thing we can all do for ourselves is to be ready when opportunity comes knocking. If you love what you do, keep doing it. I get tired sometimes. In fact, eleven years ago I quit working on Sidewalk Stories. It sat on my shelf until 2017 when I was interviewed on Ryan Drean’s Podcast about my success as a voice over actor. I didn’t know what to talk about, since I am rather private. I wondered, what makes WKG interesting? I talked about Sidewalk Stories and my wild adventures of trying to get the show idea made. Reminiscing about my big dreams of sharing Sidewalk Stories with the world I realized I had lost hope, the death of a dream. I had quit! Now, I am going to finish what I started eleven years ago. Even if I have to pay for it myself. And when Netflix is ready to talk… I will be ready!
What do you think makes a good illustrator/designer?
For me, as my story is a little different than the other artists on this site, it’s being able to understand and envision the story, the brand, the idea. For example, when I send Kate the story I try to be descriptive in my words of what action is taking place but she can see beyond the page of words. Like I said, you can follow the story through her illustrations without the “story” actually being there. That… is a great illustrator! Practice and willingness to try new things has made her even more amazing to work with.
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