Annik Dupaty has studied and worked around art for many years, but hasn’t been the artist herself – until now.
Dupaty, who works as events and volunteer manager at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, illustrated the new children’s book, “My Imagined World,” inspired by the life and work of Prince Rogers Nelson – better known simply as Prince.
“I’ve worked in an art museum for a long time. But obviously, that’s very different than being a visual artist, and working professionally as an artist,” she told Madison365. “My whole life, I’ve been someone who’s enjoyed drawing, enjoyed painting and photography. So I certainly used all of those skills in producing a book of this type. But this is my first foray into acting as a professional artist. This was new in a lot of ways … I studied art history. I’ve studied artists, I, you know, studied art theory. I’ve taken studio art classes, but this was really a big, different step for me, both personally and professionally.”
The book grew out of shared remembrances when Prince passed away in 2016. Dupaty, who calls herself a “devotee” of the musician, wanted to commission some Prince-inspired artwork for her home, but also started posting some of her own drawings in a Facebook group of fellow Prince devotees.
One of them was already a friend, Yolanda Everett from Atlanta. Everett, a fourth-grade teacher who works with gifted students, had read Prince’s memoir, “The Beautiful Ones,” and wanted to translate its lessons about creativity for younger readers.
“As I read the book, some parts of it seemed pretty animated. I felt like the idea that was presented there would make for a good children’s book,” Everett said. “And the message in his book was all about creativity, wanting to tell the world, tell people to create.”
She said in her more than 20 years of teaching, creativity is one thing she’s seen even gifted kids struggle with.
“The most brilliant child has a hard time passing that portion of the test” to get into the gifted programs, she said. “It is not something you can necessarily teach but … I can encourage it.”
She said Dupaty’s illustrations caught her attention.
“As I was reading the memoir, I said, ‘I need someone who could help me to illustrate this. Someone who understands,’” she said. “And then (Dupaty) started posting pictures that she had drawn. And I was blown away by the pictures and her illustrations of Prince. When we talked about it, I presented my ideas to her. And the next thing I know, she took it and she ran away with it.”
Dupaty started with ink and paper but soon turned to digital technology.
“There are so many incredible things you can do with digital illustration now. So after I drew each page with pencil and ink, then I pulled them into a digital illustration app to really edit the files, or edit the drawings, and then add color. And then I did some text work for the book as well,” she said. “I had to really teach myself the process of book illustration. And all that goes into that. And then I also had to teach myself a new skill, which was digital illustration.”
Both the author and illustrator said they deeply appreciated the collaboration.
“We became very, very close friends. We discovered we had a lot in common,” Everett said of Dupaty. “And she’s just a great spirit to work with. And it was just an awesome collaboration. I mean, the ideas that came forth just from us talking on the phone and just meeting up from week to week … it was something that I’ve never experienced before. It was an awesome experience.”
“Working with Yolanda on this project was a joy from beginning to end,” Dupaty said. “We poured a lot of love, joy and heart into it, and hope that it inspires children to get creative!”
“My Imagined World” is Everett’s second children’s book, after she published “Peter and the Boycott” in 2014. That book recounts the story of her father’s participation in the Montgomery Bus Boycott as a 9-year-old boy.
“Our hope is that this book gets in the hands of as many children and Prince lovers as possible,” Dupaty said. “There’s a lot of difficult things going on in the world, and I think that we need to present children with something positive to be thinking about.”