Several years ago as a teen, Brittany Gonzales, 22, of Tooele, said she was hanging out with friends and contriving new ways to have fun and pass the time in a small town that was short on entertainment for youth. It was Tooele’s lack of teenage diversions that fostered her imagination and provided the seed for her growing talent. The first fruit of her talent is in the form of a children’s book called “One Day.”
“There’s not a lot of entertainment in Tooele,” she said. “We have the bowling alley and the movies, but other than that it was really up to us to get together and come up with games and stuff to do.”
On the back cover of “One Day,” it reads, “I am from a small town in Utah called Tooele. There isn’t a lot to do, so using your imagination is what got us through growing up there. Honestly I wouldn’t change it for the world. It helped me become the artist I am today and really showed me how to appreciate the simpler things in life.”
Her book highlights milestones in a child’s life. It’s all about the simple things that children find joy in, like blowing bubbles and outgrowing training wheels. “One Day” started as an assignment from one of her professors at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga. After completing her associates of liberal arts at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho, in May 2010, she began to attend SCAD in August of the same year. She is currently a senior and will graduate in June with a degree in illustration design.
Gonzales did not always plan on becoming an illustrator. She changed her major several times before finally deciding on illustration design.
“I have changed my major a lot of times,” Gonzales said. “It was very opposite things, like children’s education, pharmacy and furniture design, but I let life guide me.”
She also believes God has had a hand in the journey that led her to where she is today. Her first stop on her journey after graduating from Tooele High School in May 2008 was at the College of Southern Idaho.
“God put me where he’s wanted me to be,” she said. “I fully believe that. I wouldn’t ever have said I wanted to go to Idaho to school.”
She received a softball scholarship to the College of Southern Idaho, but it was there she realized her love of illustrating when she took art classes as part of her degree.
She considers her roommates from Idaho her second family. In fact, that’s where she met McKensy Hillstead of Lehi, who quickly became her best friend and eventually co-authored “One Day.” Their chemistry was apparent from the beginning of their relationship.
“Instantly we just clicked,” Gonzales said. “It wasn’t awkward at all. It was like we knew each other from day one. We still talk about it to this day.”
After completing her two years of schooling in Idaho and receiving her associate degree, Gonzales had a decision to make: Where would she go next? Again, life guided her. Because she was attending school on a softball scholarship and studying art, her choice of colleges were slim.
“It’s hard to find a school that has art and athletics,” she said. “But my summer coach came to me and said ‘Hey, I found a school that has art and a softball team.’”
The school was in San Francisco. Gonzales contacted the coach in San Francisco several times and the coach seemed to think her 30 art credits would not be enough to let her graduate on time. Because the coach made it sound like it would not work out, Gonzales decided to see if there was another school that had art and athletics.
“It turns out there is one,” Gonzales said. “There is only one in the entire country so I contacted them. The coach at CSI and I did a recruiting video and sent it to the coach at Savannah College of Art and Design.”
Almost instantly the coach at SCAD contacted her and requested she take a recruiting trip to SCAD.
The assistant coach at SCAD used to play at Utah State University. Earlier in her softball career, Gonzales had played against USU during her time in Idaho, so the assistant coach talked to her about this link.
“She offered me a full-tuition scholarship there and I decided, yeah, let’s do this,” she said.
The campus at SCAD isn’t laid out like most colleges. Each building at SCAD houses a different major and each has its own feel. Gonzales found her place in the illustration building.
“You go into each building and it has its own personality,” she said. “You know when you walk into a building what the major is because everyone there has the same personality.”
When she went into the illustration building, she knew her personality fit there because they were all soft spoken and reserved like her.
She also loved the teachers at SCAD because they were always challenging her to be better.
“They were very critical but it was a good thing,” she said. “It was all constructive criticism and it was all a matter of how you took it.”
That is how her book, “One Day,” came about. When her professor assigned the class to come up with illustrations for a children’s book as a project, she had the option to use an existing book and do illustrations for it or write her own book and create illustrations. She also had the option to have it printed.
When she was stuck and having a hard time conceptualizing the whole thing, her professor challenged her to simplify her work. She contacted her best friend, Hillstead, to help her with the words.
“I had the story started based on my grandmas and I couldn’t get the words completely,” Gonzales said. “My professor asked ‘What if you simplify it?,’ so I called McKensy because she’s very good with words. She came up with a lot. It’s actually divided in half. I think the best ones are hers.”
She had a total of eight weeks to get all the illustrations completed if she wanted to have it printed. She was only required to turn in a front cover and two illustrations for the assignment but she wanted to create a complete children’s book. A normal children’s book is 24 pages. She created a total of 13 illustrations for “One Day,” including the front cover and 12 page illustrations.
“One Day” has now been self-published by Gonzales and is listed on sites such as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. She also has “One Day” and many other illustrations, including a mascot she created for Tooele’s East Elementary, on her website bdesignd.com.
Gonzales chose Trafford Publishing to self-publish her book after researching several companies and listing the pros and cons of each. “One Day” officially came on the market in November 2012. Gonzales will not know if her initial investment will be lucrative until the first quarter sales results come out at the end of this month, but she is not worried. To her, it is not the sales numbers that will make her book a success.
“I made this book because it’s what I love to do and the kids and people I’ve met along this journey is what have made it all worthwhile,” she said. “Even if I have only sold one copy, it doesn’t change what I have really gained from it all.”
Gonzales has several other projects in the works. One, due to be finished in mid to late 2013, is as the illustrator for another children’s book by author Elaine Duree. She met Duree, who’s originally from Bountiful, at a literary festival in Georgia. Another is a children’s book she wrote while traveling in Scotland last year.
Though the children’s genre is an extremely competitive market, Gonzales loves it partly because of her siblings, who have always been supportive of her and proud of her work. She has seven siblings. The youngest, Trinity, is 6 years old and just learning to read.
“It was the greatest day of my life to have Trinity read my book and sound out the words and then look at the illustrations to figure out words that she didn’t know,” Gonzales said.