Meet The Illustrator Behind 'A Fairy Friend'

by Claire Keane

Claire Keane is an illustrator and visual development artist who contributed to the Disney films Enchanted, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen. She illustrated and wrote the children's book Once Upon A Cloud, illustrated A Fairy Friend, out May 10, and illustrated and wrote the forthcoming Little Big Girl.

When I first read Sue Fliess’ manuscript for A Fairy Friend , I was drawn to the idea of an unseen world at the main character’s fingertips just waiting to be discovered. It’s a theme that — as an artist and storyteller — I feel a deep connection to. I’m always searching for ideas and believe that the perfect ideas, like the fairies in the book, are just sitting there looking down on me waiting for me to find them.

Fortunately for fairy lovers, Sue Fliess provides the reader with a list of things to do to find these fairies. If only ideas were as easily captured as fairies.

I understand how elusive creative ideas can be. When I was working at Disney, I helped develop ideas for movies like Tangled, Frozen, Enchanted, etc. With each assignment, the creative steps I had followed previously — like a magic spell — stopped working the second time around. I found I needed to forge a new way to my ideas every single time. The one thing that remained constant was where these ideas reside.

I have discovered that all of these ideas — whether it be for a book about fairies, a character design for a movie or Rapunzel’s painting style — all live within the walls of my mind. Whatever journey I take needs to eventually end up at this well of imagination that so often gets hidden under the priorities and busy-ness of the day.

When my first child was born, I had lots of quiet moments while nursing her to sleep. During these moments, my mind was left to wander, and I was flooded with ideas for new stories and projects. I realized how important it is to take the time to listen to our thoughts, our dreams, our subconscious. This idea led to my first children’s book, Once Upon A Cloud, about a girl searching for an idea which she finds in a dream.

In A Fairy Friend, the narrator lists the ways in which you can find a fairy. While I can’t do the same for your ideas, I can reassure you that they exist.

Your ideas are quietly waiting for you to notice them. It may take a while, but with quiet patience and perseverance you will find them. And when you do, they may just show you how to fly.

Images: Razi Wilson (1); Claire Keane (2); Macmillan Children's Publishing (3)