My dear friends, I have had the enormous pleasure of getting to know this delightful new artist-author: Roz MacLean.
Throughout her life, this creatively-insatiable gal has been a devoted book worm greatly inspired by many writers. Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series for starters, “It was very important to me as a young adult,” Roz says. “And I had a deep emotional connection to Anne Mcaffrey and her Pern series about dragons.”
She still loves picture books, and her favorite illustrator is Shaun Tan; especially his books The Arrival and The Red Tree (both excellent reads!). Roz also loves graphic novels and comics, and has immense admiration for comic journalist Joe Sacco, not to mention Kate Beaton, and Lisa Hanawalt’s work.
“Growing up, I was a big English and art nerd, but I also played sports,” Roz says.
She played soccer and field hockey, and earned the Female Athlete of the Year award in both 11th and 12th grade. “But I think I mostly won because I was so enthusiastically supportive of my teammates,” laughs Roz.
She loves the outdoors and rides her bike most places. “Like many Vancouverites I love sushi!” Tuna sashimi with tons of ginger is her favorite.
“I have a reaaallly cool pair of rain pants for the rainy weather,” Roz laughs. “I am addicted to listening to podcasts while I bike (just one ear bud of course), and like to listen to a range from comedy to world news to science.”
“Music and dancing brings me tons of joy as well, although I've embraced my lack of coordination as a gift that puts others at ease,” she says with a smile.
She loves spending time in forests and near the water whenever possible. “And although I was traumatized by some early life camping experience involving a lot of rain, wet sleeping bags and many, many mosquitos, I am now trying to become a more competent camper.”
To make her even more well-rounded, she is currently in love with reading non-fiction about artificial intelligence, human development and psychology. I imagine this helps her be more intuitive with her other passion, Special Education. For the past seven years, Roz has been working as an Intervenor in the field of Deafblindness. This means she supports a student who is deafblind one to one at school, helping them to communicate and understand the world around them.
“Much of my artwork incorporates themes of inclusion, stigma and empathy, as I'm always trying to imagine what it would be like to experience the world differently,” says Roz.
Her latest book, The Body Book, illustrates in a colorful fun way just how unique each body is. I think this book will help break down stigmas in the young reader’s mind about what a body “should” look like, and help us see the beauty in diversity. I personally can’t wait to share this book with my children! Here are some lovely samples from the book:
In an interview about her book, Roz stated:
“I created The Body Book in part because of my own struggle with body image growing up, and the serious effects this had on my health. I know that our culture shows limited options to children, and girls especially, of what type of body is ok. On top of that, all of the fat shaming that goes on can be incredibly harmful to children's self-esteem, and can cause them to live with constant anxiety about monitoring their own size and shape. I see little girls I work with who have low self-esteem because their perfectly healthy body is not thin, and it breaks my heart.
Our society only gives people respect on the condition that their body fits a narrow norm, and that needs to change. The Body Book is my contribution to a new kind of education of self-love and body positivity.”
She spends quite a bit of time drawing and painting in her studio and has a few styles that she alternates between, such as the series of watercolor dog portraits she is currently working on.
“Recently, I completed a series of drawings of the hand shapes that make up the American Sign Language alphabet. I know a little bit of ASL, but am excited to learn more this Fall when I take classes,” Roz says.
The Body Book is the second book she’s written and illustrated, the first being Violet's Cloudy Day, which received an Honorable Mention from the Eric Hoffer Book Award in 2015. She has also illustrated nature-themed Lucy's Tree by Helen Davidson for which she was awarded the West End B.I.A. “Free Spirit Award,” as well as Mommy's 26 Careers, a book written by actress Keegan Connor Tracey that will also be coming out this Fall.
“The way I reflect on new ideas is by making art about them.” –Roz Maclean.
If you’d like to visit her website or find her on social media, you can use the links below:
Facebook: Roz Maclean Art