Anna Yum is an artist, a teacher, a mother, and now, a children’s book author.
Anna’s first book, Everyday Superhero, tells the story of a brave koala, Rosie, and an adventurous rabbit, Meeko, and teaches kids that there’s something special about each and every one of us.
“I created this book as a way of therapy when I was suffering from anxiety, thinking I needed to be a super person and do more than what I could do,” Anna says.
“I realised I was setting a bad example for my kids. So I had a few career changes and some time off, and now I am a lot closer to accepting the qualities that I have and recognising I will make mistakes, and knowing that’s OK. I am an everyday superhero!”
When Anna decided to tap into her creative side to help her deal with anxiety, she never intended the end result to be a children’s book.
“This book came about while I was planning my daughter’s birthday party in 2015,” she explains. “I wanted to make something for the kids to take home that helped them to realise they are great, just the way they are — that they are everyday superheroes. I never would have thought a book would have been the outcome!
“But, being an artist, it’s nice to experiment with different ways of communicating an idea or message. And it was a lovely discovery to see how words and images can work together within the format of a book.”
Anna says the inspiration for Rosie and Meeko came from close to home.
“I have two little inspirations in my house, my daughters Genevieve and Imogen,” she says. “So the characters in Everyday Superhero are a combination of their personality traits as well as the things they like to imagine they are.
“Their personalities, imaginations, habits and sense of humour have been reincarnated in Meeko and Rosie. The way that Rosie runs around with undies on her head, the way Meeko thinks she is invincible, and the way Rosie is brave when trying something new and hard — it’s all them! I don’t think we give kids enough credit for how brave they have to be each day.”
Anna may not have intended to become a storyteller, but she certainly picked up a thing or two about how to tell stories to kids during her time as a school teacher.
“As a teacher you know you have to be teaching something interesting, otherwise kids won’t be engaged,” she explains.
“So I knew when I made Everyday Superhero, it had to be bright, colourful, humorous and tactile. It also had to make you think. That’s something that most teachers do without knowing — they try to raise some intrinsic thinking that challenges the way things ‘normally’ work.”
Anna has used every technique in her artistic toolshed to create Everyday Superhero, leaving no stone unturned.
“I have used a combination of techniques in this book, from watercolour to collage to digital art,” she says.
“The type of techniques I chose was driven entirely by the message of the book — that we need to accept who we are. We are a collage of our environment and our genetics. So the book has scanned in sentimental items such as my nana’s hand-crocheted blanket and my favourite jacket from Hong Kong!”
Now that she’s finished working on the book, Anna has turned her attention towards her next project — opening her own art school.
“I have started my own art school called SAY, Studio Anna Yum,” she says. “I am currently managing a community space in Woolloongabba where I will be teaching art from ages one to pre-school age with my Messy Meercats and Creative Cockatoos. I’ll also be teaching after-school classes, called the Skillful Skinks, and every fortnight I’ll be running workshops for adults ranging from kokedamas, polymer clay jewellery and screen printing.
“This will all be kicking off early 2017. At the moment, my weekends are busy with kids parties and corporate events. It has been so much fun and incredibly rewarding to lead kids — and big kids — through techniques that are new to them!”
Anna Yum will launch Everyday Superhero at The Print Bar (9/104 Newmarket Road, Windsor) from 3pm ’til late this Saturday 27 August with live t-shirt screen printing, an art show featuring illustrations from the book, licensed food trucks, face painting, live music, craft activities and a live reading. It’ll be a mini-festival for kids!
She’ll also be appearing at Avid Reader throughout the school holidays, doing live readings and running workshops for kids and adults, and her artwork will be on show at Indooroopilly Library throughout September. For more info, visit studioannayum.wordpress.com.