Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sherrie Theriault has self-published more than 30 art books!

Hello!  Recently I was introduced to this new children's picture book, Quilt Me Into Memory by New Jersey outsider artist Sherrie Theriault.  I purchased the book immediately based on the quilt cover!  I was also surprised by the unusual viewpoint of the story and the Harriet Powers' references. I just had to email her and ask a few questions.  Let me introduce you to Sherrie Theriault - who has self-published more than 30 books featuring her artwork!

What inspired you to create "Quilt Me Into Memory"? 
Sherrie Many years ago my mother suggested that I consider writing books.  Because I am a profound non-speller, I made light of the idea that I could write a book, but she held fast. I was driving to the library, praying for the willingness to at least try. I was also praying for inspiration; when I arrived the first thing that caught my eye was Antiques Magazine; the cover image was a pictorial quilt by Harriet Powers. I pored over the article. I was stopped by an ad for an auction; an antiques dealer was going to auction off a handbill from the last slave auction at the Macon County courthouse. I was devastated; it was a list of people's names and ages and attributes. I sat in the library and cried and as I did it occurred to me that this auction was not the end of the story, that the plague that is chattel slavery is not the end of the story. Harriet Powers' quilt was there on the cover of this magazine telling some more of the story and maybe I could tell some of the story too. I xeroxed the article and the ad; came home and wrote Quilt Me Into Memory.

Are you also a quilter?
Sherrie:  Yes, I do quilt, but I am a playful, inexact quilter. My mother is a competition quilter, also a quilt instructor.  The quilt on the cover is my mother's work. She is the only person I would trust such a task to. She captured everything my heart had to say and quilted it.

How did you produce this book using CreateSpace? Did you use their book layout service or did you do it yourself?
Sherrie:  I use the program Photoshop to typeset my artwork. I use Microsoft Word for book layout and then I convert the Word document to a PDF file for upload. The book's cover I created in Photoshop and PDF the file directly from there.  This is the 31st book I have created using CreateSpace. I love them and the opportunity they provide me. I have to say I haven't ever used their layout service.

As an artist, why is it important that you also create books for your work?
Sherrie: I am an outsider artist and my work is represented in a gallery and this is wonderful. With that said, nothing compares with the range and longevity that a book offers. When someone buys my sculpture from the gallery it is theirs and though people may admire it or commission a similar piece, it is never the same as the first one, the real one.  With books it's the real one every time and they can be shipped anywhere and now they can be converted to Kindle format and go with you anywhere. I can't do that with sculpture; I can't make it accessible in the same way.  Sculpture is wonderful, but books are a different kind of love affair.

Would you like to share an important tip to other artists looking to create a book of their artwork or publish a children's story based on their artwork?
Sherrie:  I fear that this will sound trite, but breathe. Then be patient with yourself and be aware that you might not be your normal charming self while building your book so keep some space between you and those you care about, less apologize that way.

Make a big note for yourself that says, "There is a learning curve; it will not always take me this long to do this!"  Post this all over your workspace and do all you can to believe the note because it is true.

My first picture book took six months to build and much blood was drawn, not all of it mine. Now it takes an hour or two to build a book once I have finished the typesetting; no blood and lots of smiles when it's done.

The last thing I will say is... do it!  Nothing in this world feels the way your book feels in your hands; trust me, you don't want to miss out on that feeling.

Sherrie - thank you so much for your time in sharing your self-publishing experience for your artwork. I was inspired by 30+ books and "Quilt Me Into Memory!  

I hope this interview is helpful to those who are following the Publish Your Own Quilt Catalog blog!  I'm happy to include YOUR quilt catalog experience, too.  Enjoy!