If you’ve been following our website over the past couple of years, you’re probably familiar with Theo Lorenz. They’re the author and illustrator of UNICORNS ARE JERKS and a number of other phenomenal adult coloring books, and we’ve been working together for a few years now!
Theo is such a fun client because they like to work on so many different types of projects–manuscripts, coloring books, mini comics or graphic novels–and recently, a picture book! A month or so ago, Theo approached me with a picture book project that they and their good friend/assistant Jack Evans co-wrote together. I love the idea, and as I went back and forth with Theo on project development and some revisions, we began talking about the possibility of me offering representation to Jack.
Jack and I talked on the phone about their illustrating career and the types of projects that they’re working on–both solo, and in collaboration with Theo! We eventually decided that I would work to represent both of them whenever they collaborate together, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
Even though I’ve only recently started talking to Jack directly, they’ve been working with Theo for a while now, so I’m familiar with their creativity and work ethic (thanks for helping keep Theo on track with their deadlines, Jack :P). It’s awesome to have such a creative, open, and all around fun duo to represent!
So today’s new client interview welcomes Jack Evans to BookEnds and serves as a little reintroduction for Theo Lorenz! So happy to have both of you on my team of authors! The two talk about their partnership below:
Tell us a bit about your partnership. When did you two meet and when did you start collaborating?
Jack: I met Theo in college. When I got hired at the school’s ITS Helpdesk, they kinda became my boss. We used to joke about Theo hitting it big and hiring me as their assistant, because even though they were technically my superior, I’ve always been good at herding them.
Jack: Am I wrong?
Theo: …No. So last year timing and finances worked out, and I was able to hire Jack as my super part-time author’s assistant. And in the process of working together, we started brainstorming projects together, then fell into writing a picture book together!
How do your collaborations usually work? Do you tend to take certain roles, or is your approach more fluid?
Jack: It goes something like this:
Theo has an idea. I go “YES DO IT DO THAT THING.” Theo laughs. I say “NO SERIOUSLY DO THE THING. I WILL HELP.”
Then we do the thing. Sometimes I toss out ideas to make it weirder. Sometimes they’re even good ideas!
Theo: I throw out the silliest ideas I can, Jack catches one, and we volley it back and forth until it’s something worth writing down.
Do you have any writing or illustrating rituals? I know you came up with your latest idea while out to McDonalds. Is food a typical brainstorming catalyst, or are the two of you coming up with ideas any random time you’re together?
Jack: Usually cats are involved.
Theo: I have so many cats.
Jack: There are several. Honestly, it tends to happen randomly just via our normal conversations. …Heh, normal.
Theo: Nothing about you is normal.
Jack: Hello pot! I’m kettle.
Theo: But yeah, we play with my cats and talk and joke around, and sometimes something clicks. I think we’re too new at collaborating together in this way to have any rituals yet.
Jack: To be honest I’d prefer that the McDonald’s thing didn’t become a ritual. How about Taco Bell?
Theo: Ooh, I’d be down for that.
What do you love about coming up with picture book or coloring book ideas? How does it differ from writing books or doing freelance art?
Jack: Well, as far as freelance art goes, I only have so much creative control over those projects. Someone else gives me the subject matter, the style, often even the colors to use. It’s a bit limiting. I love the freedom and wild creativity of this kind of collaborative, rather than commissioned, work. Plus, if I’m working alone, I tend to get stuck or pessimistic about a project, but with Theo it’s always a really positive, mostly goofy atmosphere. Makes it easy to be creative!
Theo: With picture books and coloring books, I feel like there’s less pressure. Doing freelance art, there’s always that worry about pleasing my client and getting everything right. Writing a novel, I’m usually hunched over my laptop alone in a room, with all my worries about whether this book will sell buzzing about in my head like a swarm of bees. Working on coloring and picture books, especially with Jack, I don’t get stuck in my head so much. It’s hard to write humor in a vaccuum; you’ve gotta share it, test it out, get friends laughing with you. I love being able to do that!
What is the hardest part about writing? The hardest part about illustrating?
Theo: Like, not being snarky here – I have depression and anxiety that both like to manifest in memory and cognitive glitches. So I have a lot of days where my words aren’t working, and co-writing with me is a lot like Pictionary. I gesture and talk about “the thingy,” and Jack has to figure out what thingy I’m talking about.
Theo: Oh dammit, this is what I’m talking about. WORDS.
Jack: For me, I tend to write how I talk, and that doesn’t always work for a project. I have pretty severe ADHD, so I tend to jump around and lose track of what I’m saying, or where I’m going with an idea.
Theo: I feel like we balance each other out. You find my words, and I help you figure out where you’re going.
Jack: I completely agree.
Theo: As for illustration, I feel like the hardest part for me is figuring out a style or perspective. I’ll spend a lot of time toying with different art styles, character designs, even what medium to use to fit the tone of the book.
Jack: Exactly what I was about to say!
What book do you wish you had written or illustrated for, and why?
Jack: I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen. The story and pictures are all perfectly simple, and it’s wonderfully dark without being too much. Exactly my kind of humor.
Theo: I wish I’d illustrated Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke. His inks and watercolors are exactly what I’d like mine to look like, in my heart of hearts. Ooh, or the Dinotopia series, which I grew up on.
If you’re not reading, writing, or drawing, what would we catch you doing?
Jack: Does narrating audiobooks count as reading? Probably. I spend my free time mostly playing video games, or watching someone else play video games. Sometimes I even play video games WHILE watching someone else play video games.
Theo: My partner and I have both a toddler and a kitten, so I spend a lot of time running after small creatures asking “Is your butt poopy?” Also, Youtube.
Check out Theo’s brilliant work on their website: http://nicolelorenz.com