by Julie McGann
My name is Julie McGann and I am a wish-granting digital artist who captures the imagination of little dreamers worldwide by giving them the dream pet they have always wanted. Children have a deep connection with animals, but much differently than we as adults feel towards them. This friendly connection is why I created dream pet portraits, so children could live out their fantasies of having any animal in the world as their best friend!
Each portrait is made up of several images that I have blended together in Photoshop to bring my imaginary idea to life! It is like finding all the pieces of the puzzle and putting them together as I see it in my brain. Each tiny little detail, I have captured with my own camera! Sometimes as many as 50 images come together to create a final portrait! It is exciting to watch it come to life!
Sometimes children wish their imaginary friends were real. This little girl loves ketchup so much, she wished it was her best friend. Since I use real life objects and people, her imaginary vision could actually come to life right before her eyes! She could see what it would look like in the real world! I find myself drawn into the stories and the characters I create, as if I am living right in the portrait. I am taken to another world that I am passionate about creating.
Many parents want to create portraits for their furry children too! When I made this tea party portrait, I felt was like I was actually there getting to know the dogs, even though I have never met them! Most of my work is done through email, which gives me the opportunity to offer portraits to families across the globe. Katie is the beautiful sophisticated senior dog fanning herself. She prefers the coolness of the shade. Emma is the diva of the group. She is the leader of the pack and a total drama queen, which is why she refuses to wear a hat and is texting at the table. Bailie is the baby of the group and looks up to the other two dogs. She wants to be just like them, but still a baby at heart with her little stuffed bunny.
My most favorite moment in my career so far is when I interviewed my idol Mindy Thomas of the “Absolutely Mindy Show” on Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live! She is like a super cool babysitter to entertain your kids while you drive, so you can gain back (some of) your sanity. She has the incredible magical powers of an imaginary Fairy Godmother, granting the wishes of all her listeners!
My kids are HUGE fans and wanted to ask Mindy their own Would-You-Rather question,“When you were a child, would you have rather played on the monkey bars with a wolf wearing a blue sparkly dress or gone roller skating with a purple polka dotted elephant?” As it turns out, Mindy LOVES rollerskating, both when she was a child and still now very much as an adult. I was so excited to create this picture for her!
So, how did I decide to write and illustrate children’s books using my photography? Since all of the tiny details of my portraits portray a story, I often hear people tell me I should write children’s books. They wanted to know more about the characters in the portrait. I didn’t actually take the plunge until about a year and half ago, when I accidentally printed these mini glossy board books. I thought I was printing slightly larger albums to showcase my work at a local show, but misread the dimensions.
My youngest daughter was immediately drawn to them and asked to keep one. She carried it with her wherever she went. I was so happy that I had found someone to appreciate the little mistake I made. I put the other copy in my purse to show anyone who asked me what I did for a living.
When my youngest was in Daisies, someone asked me about my photography. I brought out my mini board book and immediately every single Daisy girl flocked towards my tiny little book, fascinated by every little picture in the book. The girls were begging me to let them keep that book. That was the exact moment that I decided my art should be in children’s books.
My pictures were wasting away on social media when they could be in the hands of young children all over the world who would truly appreciate their whimsical wonder. From that day on, I decided that I would both create for families, as well as write and illustrate numerous children’s books for all the little dreamers out there!
2016 was a great year, because it brought me my dream agent Jen Hunt from the Booker Albert Agency! Here’s hoping 2017 brings me my dream publisher and one for you too!
Julie McGann is an internationally award-winning creative photographer and digital artist who brings children’s imagination to life through Illustrative Portraiture. Part painting, part photograph, her whimsical dream portraits have captivated families across the globe. Julie is well-known for her ability to turn ordinary personal photos into extraordinary imaginary masterpieces.
She invites you to visit her fun links:
- Finding Inspiration Tutorial: Thinking Outside The Box
- 50 Imaginary Game Ideas
- Sirius XM Kids Place Live Mindy Thomas Interview
Julie is giving away a copy of her 2017 wall calendar.
Leave ONE COMMENT below to enter. You are eligible to win if you are a registered Storystorm participant and you have commented once on this blog post. Prizes will be given away at the conclusion of the event.