Skip to main content

Turning vacation artwork into books? - Raheem Nelson

In this clip from the podcast, iPad illustrator Raheem Nelson talks about making travel journals and children's book artwork.

From the interview:

It's been maybe a few years gap between my last book which was about travel paintings and the next.

I took this amazing trip to Europe, my first trip to Europe actually. I started in London and then I went to Paris, Barcelona, and then on the tail end Portugal. So I've got all these photos I've taken and paintings that I made while I was there. I wanted to make more paintings and just kind of compile it into a book and then do journal entries for it too. 

Do you add written stuff next to it? How do you lay it out how do you plan it? 

So how I plan it is it always starts with the photo reference and then from there I go back to look at anything I wrote while I was there. I usually journal when I go to different places just to record everything. Then the photos go along with that I'm using the photo reference to create. I'm just going to a place and I'm painting something like maybe make six or seven paintings in a few hours and then head back to the hotel or Airbnb.  Then just do the same thing all over again the next day.

Was this last trip just a vacation or were you actually going there specifically to work on this book?

I'd say a little bit of both. I got very lucky with that. 

I had a contract with this lady from Washington DC, she wanted to do a children's book so she hired me as the illustrator. It ended up working out to fund that entire trip. 

How did you hook up with this person doing the children's book?

All my big freelance jobs have just come from great referrals. Through my friends or people I've worked with in the past. This person used to run this mobile digital art conference in California. 

She said she had a friend and this person from DC and she was like, oh I was looking for a children's book author. I was like, sure! I'll take it on. And it ended up being really cool. It was about an African-American mother and a daughter the mother is really busy and so the daughter has this dream about her mother to reconnect with her and build a closer relationship. And it's this dream world and the mother is basically giving the daughter a history lesson about the civil rights movement and the tech industry and all these famous people that she wants her daughter to look up to. 

Just illustrating that was so much fun. The story was so rich and just really transformed in this great project. 

Where is this is being made?

Through Lulu

What's it like working with that platform?

I love it and you know it's nice that I have so much control over it. I can just upload everything as a pdf just make sure the dpi is right and I can review it each and every step of the way before it's ready to go to publishing. 

Have you done any other children's books?

i did another one for the same author about poems that her students put together. Other than that it's just been the travel books and then the comic books that I was publishing through Lulu. They were political cartoons but they were also aimed at kids too. I had two versions of it. One would be more for adults, one would be for teens. 

I've never really considered that doing ones that are more kid-based politically?

I think the idea came from reading Charlie Brown and being interested in The Boondocks and just seeing that there are these two extremes. Where like The Boondocks would be more adult-oriented and Peanuts there are hidden layers, messages, but primarily you watch it as a kids show. They are different levels to it so I appreciated that.

I would come out with one version and then I would illustrate a few other strips for the second version. And sometimes I would take things away, sometimes would add things, and then I'd just be like, okay this is this teen version, this is an adult's version. 

And I just put an age rating on each one.

Here is a Pinterest image for this post you can save for yourself!

Listen To The Podcast


New song! Variation witch

Keeping up with my plan to release new music every month.  This time around I venture into the punk blues realm. Sort of a mixture of The Black Keys and The Eels . This is a song called "Variation witch" by my band Lorenzo's Music .  The cover art is actually an antique top that I have in my collection. What I liked about it was the striped disc kind of like something in a Tim Burton film.

A quick peek behind-the-scenes of a new webcomic series. Coming soon!

I've recently paused my usual diary comic to dedicate my attention to an exciting new project—a fiction webcomic series featuring two characters that may be familiar to my long-time followers.  These characters, Bobert and the Monster have made appearances on my website before , and now they're taking center stage.  I'm working diligently with the hope of launching the series shortly.  In the meantime, I'd like to share this behind-the-scenes video of the drawing process for one of the upcoming pages.  Stay tuned for more updates as I bring this creative vision to life.

Working on a new comic

Drawing tablet screenshot I've been working on a new comic book idea. These are some screenshots of a few panels of a comic I'm drawing on my tablet. It's actually based on some characters I've had for a while called Bobert and the Monster . I don't even really remember how I came up with these characters themselves but the concept is:  It's a world made of monsters and humans are the ones that haunt and terrorize them. Specifically, Bobert the human haunts and plays tricks on the main character who is just called "Monster".  When I first started drawing them years ago they were just one-page gag comic strips. I was inspired to draw these characters based on those in-between comic stories I read in those old Gold Key and Dell comics from the 60s and 70s. Those comics would feature a main character like Yogi Bear or Huckleberry Hound . Then there were random one-page stories with a different character in the book to fill it out.  I had drawn a few o

How I use one Gmail address for multiple Soundcloud accounts

Do you know the Gmail "+" trick to use one email for multiple accounts on one service? Here's a little trick I use that works for any service.  I talked about this on the podcast episode I did with artist Mortimur K . In this case, let's say I used up all the uploads I have for my free Soundcloud account . With this trick, I can open a new free account and use the same Gmail address. I don't want to create another Gmail account to sign up again.  Using my one Gmail address for multiple accounts on the same service I don't remember when I learned this but you can alter the name on a Gmail address. Like, let's say mine is "". To be clear that is not my email. I wish it was, but this is just a short example. Start with the original Gmail address Add a "+" after the email name Where it says "tom" on the address I can put a "+" after that. Add a "+" after the email name After that "+" I ca