07 May Chelsea Iris Granger
Why did you become a children’s illustrator?
I became a children’s book illustrator because kids books have so much room for possibility, for another world to be possible, another world is possible! I am working on my first children’s book with a dear friend, Sophie Wood, who is an amazing writer and artist. We have collaborated on multiple projects together for performance/art collective The Royal Frog Ballet. Children’s books are a natural next step for the type of stories we are telling and a wonderful way to be able to share our work with larger audiences.
When I was in my early thirties I was visiting my folks and found some of my old kids books. I was struck by how clearly their visual language had informed the art I make, how powerfully these stories have shaped my worldview. My parents were hippies and found the most beautiful, psychedelic kids books for my brother and I. Revisiting these old books helped me to realize how perfectly my paintings are suited for children’s books! It’s really inspiring to think of my art getting to impact lives the way those books impacted mine. As my collaborative partner Sophie said so eloquently, “these stories are where the root of radical possibility starts.” With these stories and illustrations, another world is possible. As my friends begin to have kids I am inspired by how children’s books get woven into their days, and how the images and stories are informing the world they are creating for their children. I love witnessing the excitement kids have looking at the illustrations – what an awesome audience!
What project are you most proud of? What do children learn or understand from it? Why is that important?
I am most proud of the cantastorias that Sophie Wood and I create for the Royal Frog Ballet’s annual Surrealist Cabaret. Cantastorias are performance-based storytelling devices. We work together to dream up the stories we want to tell. I make giant paintings, Sophie writes, and then we get dressed up and immerse audiences of up to 300 people in a live storytelling spectacle! Sophie and I make work that is a love song for the earth, seasons, grief, and bravery – stories as prayers and seeds for the world we are dreaming into. We are writing stories that praise curiosity and tenderness. We hope that through our books and cantastorias, kids (and all people) are having soul-centered experiences, learning with their hearts and spirits as well as their brain.
What are you itching to draw or illustrate next?
Sophie and I have plans for so many books! One that I am really excited about is centered around the “slowest parade.” I love parade imagery, I love drawing crowds of people, and I love the surreal nature of a “slow parade”!
Tell us about your latest project. Where can it be purchased?
Sophie and I are currently working on our first kids book based on our cantastoria of the same name: The Last Kingdom of Ice & Snow. The story is so beautiful and I am looking forward to sharing it with the world. It will eventually be available on my Etsy shop. Until then, I do have lots of other projects available in my shop, such as amazing posters designed in collaboration with Herbalist Brittany Nickerson of Thyme Herbal. She shares her wisdom and I do the botanical illustrations. We do a series of posters centering around plant medicine, harvesting and wildcrafting!
Chelsea Iris Granger lives in Branford, CT. Her art is inspired by the overlap of earth/spirit dimensions, and woods as church. She sees her paintings as medicine, portals, spells. She uses her art as a place to connect with people around death & grief.
Images © Chelsea Iris Granger. Used with permission.