The Puddlejump Collective Origin Story

It really happened out of the blue. I honestly don’t remember much about how we decided to start an art collective, but since I promised my teammates that I’d write a blog post, I guess I’ll have to make something up. Hmm.

I’d like to imagine that our origin story bore the hallmarks of a casino heist movie, so that's what I'll do. Lorian might have called me up and said something along the lines of:

“Hey, is this Steve Asbell?” She’d speak in a raspy, garbled voice, like Darth Vader trying to disguise his voice for a prank call after drinking too many helium balloons. Yeah, that’s exactly how she’d sound.

“How did you get this number?” I’d ask frantically, peeking out the window at a payphone across the street, before remembering that this is 2016 and everybody uses cell phones now.

“I’ve got one last job. One last job and then we’re through.”

(A crack team of professionals with various skill sets, doin' somethin' big. Illustration by Steve Asbell)

Who is this?”

“I got a crack team of professionals with various skill sets, and we’re gonna do something big. Real big. Like, collaborative art-sized big.”

“Wait… what?”

“We’re doin’ it for all the kids and other people who, you know… wanna write and draw for kids.”

“So let me get this straight. We’re forming an illustration collective and are going to create collaborative art and write blog posts to encourage and inspire others in the kidlit community?”

“Yeah, if you wanna call it that.”

“But… why do you want me?”


“We need a guy who really knows how to use a colored pencil. That, and we’re a little short on comic relief.”

“I only fly solo,” I’d say, perhaps pausing to remember something tragic and involving broken Prismacolor pencil leads in a cheap sharpener.

“Perhaps you can be persuaded…”

“Nothing could change my mind. Leave me here to draw cute animals all alone before I call the cops!”

Whispers would be heard in the background. Of course I’d stay on the line to be polite, but then it would dawn on me that something lucrative could be gained from this venture. Something that I desperately, desperately needed.

“Wait! Don’t hang up!”


“Will there be matching tattoos?”

“Uh, yeah. If you want.”

“I’m in.”

Cue the dramatic music, dig into your popcorn and form a mental picture of 13 illustrators walking away in slow-motion from an exploding car while our names fly across the screen with tire pieces and rubble whizzing by, because that is Puddlejump Collective in a nutshell. I do this because it’s epically awesome.

Other members, however, have their own motives. I asked Tarsila Kruse what she has to gain from our shifty alliance and this is what she said:

“I love being a PuddleJumper because I’m challenged to improve, to keep ideas flowing and to produce the best work I can in the kid lit world.”

Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but I saw no mention of a ragtag team of good for-nothing-scoundrels trying to make a buck in the seedy underbelly of the publishing industry. Fair enough. You have to play the part to get anywhere, right?

Tarsila Kruse, what else do you like about Puddlejump Collective?

“The soul of our collective is truly collaborative, therefore we are all cradled in a safe environment where we can share our insecurities, listen to and give criticism, overcome our challenges and become better professionals. I know the talent among all PuddleJumpers is of the highest standard and that propels us to reach for bigger things and to constantly improve professionally.”

Okay, you know what? I’ll ask someone else. Lorian Dean, why are you a member of Puddlejump collective?

"What I love about being in PJ is that it pushes me to create something of high quality almost every day, because I don't want to disappoint my collaborators. I think we all keep each other accountable in the most supportive way. It's like a little family."

Gag me with a spoon. Faith Pray, please explain Puddlejump Collective, but be sure to include fights and explosions in your description.

"You know when people say they have someone in their corner? I love having the PJ corner. I love that we're all cheering for each other, offering help, critique, encouragement, advice. I love the idea explosions that happen when 13 creative people brainstorm."


(I'm pretty sure that the umbrella in Faith Pray's illustration is JUST like the one in Kingsman: The Secret Service.)

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the bottom of this blog post. Check back with us often for blog posts written by other members of the Puddlejump Collective. Collect them all! Show your friends and follow us on Twitter. Do it here. DO IT! We only have 29 followers at the time of writing, because we're technically still top-secret for two more hours until our official release.

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