All posts in Holman

Artist in Residence – Queen Mary School

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Last week, Holman had the great pleasure of completing a full week as Artist in Residence at Queen Mary Elementary School on the west side of Vancouver. He gave presentations about his work on Monday, and then spent the next four days teaching hundreds of students to felt.

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Students in grades 3 to 7 needle felted, while the K to 2s learned to wet felt. The little ones made felt by wet felting in a Ziploc bag. Not only were the final results beautiful, it was pretty much mess proof!

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There were hundreds of needle felted pieces made by the older students. Here are just a few examples, starting with three students who honoured Star Wars Epic Yarns by felting stormtroopers. Ambitious and mazing work for first timers!

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And here are some of other needle-felted pieces. The subtle yet beautiful detailing on the stem of the pumpkin is terrific, and shows real artistry.

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And this octopus is just too cute!

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The students were really proud of their work, and rightly so. Here is staff at Queen Mary getting ready for the big felt show at the end of the week. There were literally hundreds of student projects on display. At the right front of the picture, you can see wet felted pieces turned into bow ties for Father’s Day cards!

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And here are some students checking out the exhibition.

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By the way, Queen Mary is a school with a view! Check out these photos shot from classrooms and school hallways.

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The students really enjoyed Holman’s visit, as can be seen from these journal entries by some of the grade 1 students.

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Holman enjoyed his week at Queen Mary immensely, and he would like to thank the enthusiastic teachers, staff, volunteers and students for making the week so successful. Finally, a big thanks to the teacher-librarian who invited Holman to her school. Aren’t librarians the best?

Video of Holman’s talk at IV15!

Interesting Vancouver is a fascinating gathering of the curious and unexpected. More than another “sage on the stage” lecture series, Interesting Vancouver is an event that celebrates the uncelebrated, expands the collective vision of what is uniquely possible, and gives people an opportunity to discover interesting new creative pursuits they can apply in their own lives.

Holman had the very special opportunity to participate in Interesting Vancouver 2015. With no further ado, here’s his talk!

Many thanks to United Nathan Productions for putting together such a slick little video!

A galaxy far, far away… Haida Gwaii!

Holman had the privilege of going up to Haida Gwaii last week to give artists talks and felting workshops. He was invited by Beng Favreau of Literacy Haida Gwaii and Kiki van der Heiden of Sun Studio. Kiki is an incredible visual and fiber artist who created the felt artwork for the picture book Taan’s Moons in collaboration with children from Haida Gwaii. Holman gives a quick visual tour of his trip.


Haida Gwaii was named one of National Geographic Traveler’s 20 must-see places in the world for 2015, and I was lucky enough to be invited there! The natural landscape is simply stunning, as evidenced by this sunrise right outside the home I was staying in:

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The first stop was the local high school in Queen Charlotte, where I gave a talk about my work to an art class. It was a chance to share my artistic process with students, hopefully inspire them, and plug the youth felting workshop I was giving the same night!

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The afternoon turned into a “crafternoon”, as I visited Sun Studio and tried my hand at wet felting for the first time. Kiki taught me some wet felting techniques that I will try and incorporate into the next Cozy Classics!

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The youth felting workshop in Queen Charlotte was held in the evening, and the keen gathering of young people tried their hand at making Jawas.

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The next day, the adults of Queen Charlotte got their opportunity to needle felt.

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We brought along other colours of wool in case any participant wanted to make a figure other than a Jawa, and Kiki took full advantage by making a figure of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mum!

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Afterwards, I gave another talk about my work:

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The next day, I set off with Beng for the long drive to Masset, where I gave two workshops back-to-back. First it was the adults’ turn:

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And here are some happy Jawa-makers!

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Again, some participants took full advantage of the opportunity to create non-Jawa figures, like this beautiful ballerina:

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Then it was time for the youth of Masset to take their turn. I was completely blown away by the skill and determination of the some of the young participants!

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I also managed to get some sightseeing and tourist-y activities in while I was in Haida Gwaii, including visiting this carving center were the carvers had been working full-time on this totem pole since June. Apparently, it can take up to 10,000 hours of labour to complete a single pole!

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Here are some of the breathtaking views around Queen Charlotte:

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Here I am relaxing with a book on my final night in Haida Gwaii, in the home generously offered to me by local Fran Fowler (doesn’t it look cozy?):

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It was an incredible trip that I won’t soon forget. Haawa (thank you in Haida) to Beng, Kiki and their families for their kindness and hospitality. The epilogue to the story is that my mother-in-law has already promised to fly the family up to Haida Gwaii for her 70th birthday in two years. So with any luck, it won’t be long before I’m up in Haida Gwaii again!

Star Wars Reads Day in Canada!

Holman hosts the ONLY official Star Wars Reads Day event in Canada! It will be held at 2:30 at Black Bond Books in Coquitlam Center on Saturday, October 10. Don’t miss this chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Star Wars Epic Yarns was made!

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San Diego Comic Con

Holman had the great pleasure of going to San Diego Comic-Con 2015 to promote Star Wars Epic Yarns. Here’s his report:

Wow! What a thrill to go to San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend! Let me give you a quick visual tour of my whirlwind Thursday to Saturday trip.

When I arrived, it was impossible to miss that Comic-Con was happening. Conan O’Brien made sure of that, since he filmed his show all week at Comic-Con, and his marketing materials were plastered all over the airport (not to mention on entire downtown buildings!):

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My first stop was my hotel, the Horton Grand, a charming Victorian-style boutique hotel that was more than worthy of a future Cozy Classics shoot! Here’s the exterior:

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Here are some public spaces:

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And here are some pictures of my charming room, complete with a Victorian-style pull chain toilet!

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After settling in, it was time to head off to the San Diego Convention Center to catch the last few hours of Comic-Con on Thursday. The first stop was the Chronicle Books booth, #1506. Now, I knew that our Epic Yarns images were going to be featured on the Chronicle banner. What I didn’t know was that the banner was massive!

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And here’s a Jeffrey Brown sighting (he’s holding the coffee) at the booth:

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There was so much going on at Comic-Con that I’m not even going to try and capture the entire experience through photographs. The cosplay alone would take up dozens of shots! So I’ll just show you two things from Thursday afternoon. First, there was a giant banner of Eren from Attack on Titan at the Funimation booth. I recently discovered Attack on Titan quite by chance on Netflix, and I’ve become a big fan.

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And in a totally unrelated highlight, I got a Family Circus cartoon (a Star Wars one, no less!) autographed by Jeff Keane, son of the legendary Bil Keane.

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Thursday night was a free evening for me, and I did what I always promised myself I would do if I ever found myself in San Diego: eat at the restaurant that honors the late great singer-songwriter Jim Croce. He has always been a favorite of mine. Jim’s wife, Ingrid Croce, runs Croce Park West, and she was there to confirm for me that Croce is pronounced “Cro-chee”, not “Cro-Shay”. There’s a great painting of Jim in the restaurant, and many of the cocktails are named after his songs:

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In the end, the bartender sold me on his special variation on a Manhattan with Grand Marnier, and it was literally a knockout drink! And I only had one!

Friday morning started early with a Star Wars breakfast at the Edgewater Grill, where dozens of enthusiastic Star Wars fans gathered. I would have gone just for the door prizes, which were amazing (including one of our books — look closely and you’ll see a corner of it):

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During breakfast, I had the great pleasure of sitting with some Star Wars luminaries such as Jeffrey Brown, Steve Sansweet, and Daniel Wallace. If you don’t know, Steve runs Rancho Obi-Wan, which is self-described as:

…a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation whose specific purpose is to serve the public through the collection, conservation, exhibition and interpretation of Star Wars memorabilia and artifacts, using the collection to provide meaningful educational, aesthetic, intellectual and cultural experiences for a wide array of audiences and to carry out other charitable and educational activities associated with this goal.

Basically, it’s the world’s awesomest Star Wars collection, and thankfully our books are there! Here’s me and Steve:

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And here’s me and Daniel Wallace, who’s the author of a number of Star Wars books, including The Jedi Path and The Bounty Hunter Code.

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After breakfast, I was off to work in earnest! First, I made a stop at the Chronicle Books booth to set up a number of Star Wars felt figures on a rotating turntable. The moving figures were incredibly eye-catching:

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Then it was off to join an 11:00 am panel on Star Wars Publishing. Just as I was heading on-stage, I met another Star Wars luminary heading off-stage: Tom Angleberger of Origami Yoda fame! Here’s our author selfie:

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Here are some shots of me getting ready for the panel, the expectant crowd of hundreds, and the panel:

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The panel consisted of other Star Wars authors (including Star Wars rock stars like Adam Bray and Christie Golden) and a number of editors from Lucasfilm. But don’t let me tell you how much fun the panel was. See for yourself! Check out these bootleg videos of the Star Wars Publishing Panel by SW Action News:

After lunch, it was on to a book signing at the Chronicle Booth.

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Early Friday evening, Jeffrey Brown and I also did a signing at Kitson San Diego, where they had a generous display of all our Star Wars books:

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I had another book signing on Saturday, and then some more free time to explore Comic-Con. I had a chance to meet Jackie Huang of Woolbuddy, who’s a kindred spirit in the world of crafting:

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And I also picked up some souvenirs, including this great drawing by Diana Levin of my kids — made creepy cute:

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Comic-Con was an amazing experience that I won’t soon forget. Truth be told, I enjoyed it even more than Star Wars Celebration (heresy, I know!). You can definitely get your Star Wars fix at Comic-Con, but there’s so much more to explore in terms of comic books, anime, movies, television, original art, etc.

A big thanks to Julia, Lia, Sarah, April, Naomi and others at the Chronicle Booth for all their help. It was a pleasure to work with them. I really hope I have a chance to go back one day. If you’re listening Chronicle… pretty please with a cherry on top!

Holman Talks At Google

Last month, Holman had the privilege of visiting Google Tech Corners in Sunnyvale, California, and giving a presentation in the lecture series Talks At Google. Holman’s presentation was entitled From bar wars to Star Wars: How a lawyer came to create kids books in a galaxy far, far away, and now it’s up on Google’s YouTube channel. Enjoy!

Panel proposal for ALA in San Francisco

If you’ve never seen the fabulous work of Canadian children’s author and illustrator Elly Mackay, then you need to check out her website and Etsy store. We first “met” Elly when we gave her a shout out on Twitter and she responded:

Like us, Elly makes makes worlds in miniature. In her case, she makes scenes using paper, light and photography. She refers to her artistic process as paper theater, lightbox illustrations or illuminated papercraft. Here’s just one example of her amazing work:



When she mentioned in her tweet that we were “kindred spirits”, it struck a chord with us. So much so that we thought it would be a great to join forces with Elly somehow. What materialized was an idea to pitch a panel discussion on the book conference circuit, including the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

In addition to Elly, we asked Terry Border to join the panel. Again, if you haven’t seen his work, you need to check out his website. He’s best known for his Bent Objects projects, where he added wire (usually as arms and legs) to ordinary objects to help pose them as living characters, usually telling a story, and then photographing them. The results range from whimsical to hilarious. Here’s a sample:


And if you love children’s classics and want a good laugh, then you need to see Terry’s series My many tries at my first children’s book cover.

Since Jack is in England now, he’s not part of the pitch, but here’s the draft session description the rest of us have come up:


“Crafty” illustration techniques and the push-back against computer-generated images in children’s picture books

Every librarian knows that children’s picture books are waging a fierce battle with “screens”—televisions, computers and mobile devices—for children’s attention. But even when children have a printed book in their hands, digital incursions are everywhere, from flat, lifeless and obviously computer-generated art to more painterly images that are nevertheless digitally rendered or manipulated. In response, there appears to be a growing appetite among book-buyers for images that are not “electronically made.”

Do you have a booklist ready if a parent asks, “Can you show me some books that don’t have computer generated illustrations?”

In this panel discussion, three prominent “maker” illustrators discuss how children’s artists are looking to push beyond the boundaries of digital rendering—and even beyond traditional techniques such as drawing and painting—to bring craft into their artistic processes to create images that are more tactile, immediate, and authentic.

The current cultural resurgence of do-it-yourself handcraft—variously dubbed “makerism,” “craftivism” or “fabriculture”—is beginning to impact the world of children’s picture book illustration. This cultural resurgence informs the work of Elly Mackay, Holman Wang and Terry Border, who each combine a different handcraft with photography to create striking and unique images that collectively constitute a whole new idiom of illustration.

Elly MacKay creates evocative, luminescent worlds through miniature dioramas that she calls “paper theatre”. Holman Wang painstakingly illustrates his books with hand-made, needle-felted figures placed in indoor sets or outdoors on location. Terry Border is best known for adding wire (usually as arms and legs) to ordinary objects to hilariously bring them to life as human-like characters.

Come hear Elly, Holman and Terry reveal the tricks of the trade behind their art, discuss the importance of “making”, and examine the future of illustrating for children.

We don’t know if the ALA will accept. But whatever comes of our panel discussion proposal, it’s nice to know that there are other non-traditional artists out there who, like us, are pushing the boundaries of children’s illustration.

Heading down to SXSW!

Roadtrip Nation - Build a Life Not a Resume

We are thrilled to announce that Holman will be hosting a career-building session with Nathan Gebhard, co-founder of Roadtrip Nation, at SXSW in Austin, Texas on March 17, 2015! The session is entitled, “Build a Life, Not a Resume.” Here’s the blurb:

You are not just your job title. See why everyone should build a life—not a resume—with this discussion that explores the importance of integrating what you love into your work. Join Nathan Gebhard, cofounder of Roadtrip Nation, the organization dedicated to helping people create fulfilling worklives, and Holman Wang, who quit his job as a lawyer to create the bestselling felt art board books that distill great literature into 12-word narratives, as they share examples of those who are fashioning meaningful livelihoods around what matters to them. Through conversation, attendees will identify how can do the same.

For those of you who don’t know, Holman is a former corporate lawyer who quit his job in late 2012 to produce children’s books full time. Holman will talk about this meandering career path with Nathan, and share ideas on finding your passion, having the courage to change careers, and putting your finger on what success really means.

Hope to see you down in Austin!

A busy week of presentations

This week, Holman has a busy schedule of presentations. On Tuesday, November 18, Holman will be returning to the University of British Columbia, where he did his law degree, to speak to UBC law students at the annual Non-Traditional Careers Panel. The panel offers law students perspectives on various careers which are possible outside of private practice in a law firm. In addition to Holman, the panel will consist of a Hearings Officer for Canada Border Services Agency, a Registrar at the British Columbia Court of Appeal, a legal advocate for a non-profit organization, and General Counsel at a large clothing company. Holman is excited to share his experiences in children’s publishing with UBC law students.

On Wednesday, Holman will be presenting Star Wars Epic Yarns to the sales team of the Canadian distributor for the series, Raincoast Books. The sales conference is taking place in Vancouver, Canada, which just happens to be where Holman lives! He very much looks forward to meeting the Raincoast team and giving them a behind-the-scenes look at how Star Wars Epic Yarns was made.

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STAR WARS is a registered TM of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Holman to attend ABA WI 2015!

We are thrilled to announce that Holman has been invited to sign copies of Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope at ABA Winter Institute 2015 in scenic Asheville, North Carolina in early February 2015. Holman will be attending the Author Reception which will take place from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm on Tuesday, February 10 in the Grand Ballroom at the historic Grove Park Inn.

Holman had the pleasure of attending the Author Reception at Winter Institute 9 held in Seattle, Washington earlier this year. The event included full- and half-day bookstore tours, advance learning sessions for booksellers, author receptions, bookseller brainstorming groups, consultations, education sessions, guest speakers, focus groups, networking and parties.

It will be a great pleasure for Holman to meet and renew acquaintances with independent booksellers from across the United States. We know from experience that independent booksellers are the folks on the front lines hand-selling Cozy Classics to parents and children (the kind of attention you just can’t get from other kinds of booksellers), and we can’t wait to share our Star Wars books with you!

Omni Grove Park Inn