She said Yes!

For weeks I have had a secret project. It all started a few weeks ago when a romantic gentleman, Carlos, contacted me. He informed me that after several years of dating his girlfriend, Zanri, he thought it would be time to propose. He didn’t want to just drop to his knee though. Instead he wanted to pull together a romantic stunt and he needed my help.

Knowing his girlfriend was a huge fan of children’s illustrations (she works as a children’s book publisher) he sought out to have several illustrations drawn of their time together. He wanted to have them depicted as animals (him a monkey, her a snake) doing all the adventures that they had together, including the night they meet at a German October Festival, to parachuting, moving in together, travelling and meeting each other’s families.

Of course I immediately wanted to be involved. It was a different ball game to the usual book illustrations that I do and so I took the project on with great excitement. It was about three weeks into the project that I attended an open studio day with Alex. I was sitting there, making notes and taking photos for my blog post later, when one of the of ladies at the event looked incredible familiar.

I couldn’t put my finger on it. I just figured maybe she had been to one of the Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrator’s (SCBWI) events before and that was why she looked familiar. After the chat, I found myself with 2-3 other illustrators all chatting about what work we were doing. When they asked me, I decided to keep it quiet. I informed them it was a secret and since Cape Town is such a small place I didn’t want to say in case word got out.

It wasn’t till I got home that I put two and two together.

It was Zanri! For the whole previous week I had been trying to figure out how to take her characteristics and implement them onto a snake! She was right in the same room as me. I breathed out a sigh of relief that I had decided to keep my work quiet. Cape Town is indeed a small place.

Eventually I passed on my envelope of originals through to Carlos, discreetly through the helpful hands of Postnet. Carlos picked them up a day later and started planning his evening. He got a friend to take Zanri out for a quick drink after work while he set up at their place. He used each illustration as a centre piece in each room and guided her through, telling her the story, reminding her of each event, until the end where there was an illustration of something that hadn’t happened yet. But it was about to.