Jill Hargan: Arran illustrator’s Sam’s Skull book raises money for charity

Read Time:4 Minute, 28 Second

WHEN Jill Hargan retired as a social worker for North Ayrshire Council, she described one of her passions as playing the violin – “poorly”.

However, it was her and her partner’s love of Scottish folk music that inspired her to illustrate her first book.

She described how ‘Sam’s Skull’ (popularized by Gaberlunzi and Alistair Macdonald) was a favorite tune sung during folk nights at their local pub – both with patrons and their four-year-old granddaughter.

Jill said Herald how it inspired her to illustrate.

She said: “Before I became a social worker I used to design and make knitwear for a living and was always doing large oil paintings of local people or events.

“The regime was closed, I wasn’t going anywhere and I wasn’t seeing anyone, so I decided that I needed a project and I would illustrate Sam.

“I chose watercolor and a pen that I hadn’t used before. I finished all the drawings in pen before adding color because I was trying to get consistency, especially the cats. I decided it should be red for effect.

“I had an idea in my head of where the text would sit in relation to the illustrations to make the book readable and interesting, and basically spent two or three hours in the evening until the drawings were complete.”

After receiving positive feedback about her illustrations, Jill decided to turn her book into a reality.

Although in this process she experienced difficulties, which led to the fact that she decided to take a different path.

She explained: “I was looking for publishers who seemed to be inundated with manuscripts and took six months to respond, so self-publishing seemed like the way forward.

“Also, this book was very Scottish, so it required a niche publisher, which further reduced my chances of finding one.

I eventually managed, with great difficulty, to contact Gordon Menzies of Gaberlunzie and Harry Hagan, the author.

“I sent them copies of the images, indicating where the text would go, and asked if I could publish them for charity. They agreed that Harry had chosen Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) as the beneficiary.”

“It made sense to write a book for charity, I illustrated it for the fun of it and as long as I covered my printing costs, that was all I needed from it.

“I didn’t know how much I was going to sell, and there was definitely a feel-good factor and the experience of publishing. I also wanted to see how well it could do.”

Irvine Times: One of the pages of the bookOne of the pages of the book (Image: Jill Hargan)

Next came the difficult task of adding text to her unusual image, which saw her enlist the help of Alec at Clyde Studios in Saltcoats, who suggested that someone who specializes in this be able to place the text.

Jill described how she and Alec “sat at his computer for more hours than he was paid for changing and re-changing layouts and text.”

Suddenly the book was ready to go to press and Jill had to decide how successful she thought the book would be.

She commented: “I hummed and hawed about the quantity and chose 1,000, feeling that I could sell that quantity at £7.99 per book. In the meantime I learned about registering barcodes and paper types.

“Three days after I picked up the book, the Ardrossan Mountain Games took place. I got a stall in the craft tent at the last minute and sold 90 books.

“The reception of the book was phenomenal: older people remembered it fondly, and young people sang it in kindergarten, there were many folk songs in the tent singing it. It gave me a lot of confidence.”

Jill then used her contacts on the island and sold copies of the book in shops in Arran and set up a stall at an agricultural show and games in the Highlands, which resulted in a lot of sales on the island.

Ardrossan-based Seahorse has also made a few copies, although it still finds it difficult to crack the mainland market.

Jill explained: “I had in mind to ask the Crosshouse Hospital store, they have done brilliantly for both them and CHAS, but continental markets have been difficult.

“Eventually I signed up with Waterstones and their store in East Kilbride was phenomenal and Gordon from Gaberlunzie got a huge boost in sales by putting the book on his website.”

To date, Gill has managed to sell 1,000 books in just three months, raising £3,710 for CHAS. She still has high hopes for this development in the future.

She commented: “I’d like the book to be picked up by a publisher who paid our contribution directly to a charity, or to have huge orders that lead to the sale of larger editions, or to be listed in a catalog or a major museum, any museum in fact .

“I posted the second thousand in September, so I’d really like to get them out by Christmas so we can pay more money to TIME.

“Now I’ve illustrated a second book, this time about a horse, for an island writer and I’m looking for something else to illustrate to keep me busy this winter!”

Sam’s skull is still available for purchase and can be found at jillharganart.co.uk/illustrations/.

Source by [author_name]

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
0 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %
Previous post Kanye West’s “brazen” and “unforgiving” anti-Semitic rhetoric
Next post Cloudy in places, light rain. How long can this trend continue.