Something Wicked This Way Comes: Working With Aaron Lee Perry

A brief intro into the illustrations I did for the wonderfully talented Claire Rudy Foster's book I've Never Done This Before written by Claire herself. 

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Something Wicked This Way Comes: Working With Aaron Lee Perry

By Claire Rudy Foster


“You know Aaron, right?” my publisher Chris asked me. “I mean, you’re both creative, both sober. I think you’d be a great fit.”

We were talking about formatting my first book, I’ve Never Done This Before. The stories in the collection were dark, gritty, and challenging. Not exactly tales of hope, wonder, and white light experiences. Chris suggested adding illustrations to accompany each other.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Positive,” he said. “Take a look at Aaron’s portfolio. I think you’ll see what I mean when I say that you guys are made for each other.”

I clicked on the link and swiped through Aaron’s website, immediately noticing the strong brushwork and fearlessness in each painting. High contrast images used dark and light to make figures seem like they were floating on a black sea, flickering in and out of focus. A woman in black panties crossed her arms over her chest, her rabbit ears alert. Line portraits assumed depth, detailing the wrinkles in Nabokov’s face. I was impressed. No, I was stunned. Chris was right: this was a perfect fit for my fiction.

A quick phone call with Aaron and Chris made it official. He’d ink seven illustrations for the book, one for each story. We talked through the themes and images in my writing, and as we batted ideas back and forth, I knew that Aaron and I were on the same page.

“I checked out your profile,” he said. “You seem so nice. I had no idea you’d write such fucked-up stories.”

“I get that a lot,” I said.

Over the next few days, my inbox filled with drawings: chinook salmon, swimming in dark water. A typewriter with keys like broken teeth. A girl with eyes that stared all the way through me. Holy shit, I wrote back. Yes, this, more, please.

As I’ve Never Done This Before goes to press, I couldn’t be happier with our collaboration. Aaron’s illustrations ground my fiction in reality, provide something tangible to hold on to. They add beauty to a collection that is difficult, and sometimes painful to read. I can’t say enough good things about Aaron’s innate sense for story, his insane amount of talent, and his fine workmanship. Each of the drawings he made for I’ve Never Done This Before is a masterpiece in itself--haunting, gorgeous.

These pictures really are worth a thousand words. This artist? A million.