Marian Adams here today, to tell you the story of how Draw Near Designs began. In 2016, Abigail began to illustrate a children's board book about icons. She would post her beautiful paintings on Instagram, and I would admire the sweet faces and gentle colors. One night in December of 2016, I had a dream. I dreamed of creating a calendar for Orthodox children and collaborating with Abbi for the illustrations. In my dream, the calendar would include activity and craft suggestions for each week (things like "Write your Godparents a letter," "Thank a family member for something they do for you every day," or "Make a card for an elderly friend or neighbor."). When I woke up, I mentioned in to my husband and went about my day, and then a bit later, I wrote Abbi and mentioned this odd dream I had.
There's a line from a children's book, Rosie Revere, Engineer, that I love, "But questions are tricky, and some hold on tight." This question held on tight, indeed: Could I really create something like the calendar in my dream? With no experience, no budget, and not much free time? I just couldn't stop thinking about it, and more and more ideas for this calendar kept popping into my head. So a month or two later I asked Abbi how serious she was about pursuing this hairbrained idea. Once we both agreed we wanted this to happen, we were off running!
The previous year, I had written, illustrated, and self-published a coloring book, "That's Nonsense: A silly ABC book to color and read" (it's available on Amazon). Caroline Gann, a graphic designer friend I had known from my church in Lexington who had recently moved to Louisville had kindly and generously helped me format the coloring book, which I had just drawn on looseleaf paper! When I approached her about my idea for an Orthodox children's calendar, and asked if she would be willing to team up and be in charge of the graphic design part of it, she was immediately on board. Abbi, Caroline, and I began talking more about what we wanted this calendar to look like and how to make it happen. We are all busy mamas with multiple kids each. None of us had "free time" to pursue hobbies. But we all felt a passion in our hearts to find the time to bring this calendar into existence. I say this with great humility, because I know there are so many other people with greater artistic skill, more experience creating resources for children, and years more practice leading children through their Faith-- but it felt like God had given us this project and put the desire in our hearts. And so we set out to make it happen.
We divvied up the "who would do what." We talked about what we wanted to include in the calendar. Who is our target audience? Should the recipes and activities be at the end? A separate booklet? Following each month? Spiral bound? Saddle stitched? How were we going to print these? How many did we think we might sell? So many decisions! When we decided to launch a Kickstarter to fund the publishing costs, we decided to start a company along with it. I loved the image of children drawing closer to Christ, and Draw Near Designs was born. And that's the (short) version of how this Abbi, Caroline, and I started working together to create Love & Joy: An Orthodox Children's Calendar. A dream, a hope, and a prayer!