The hard, 'scary' road of an artist is worth it, British author tells Hickman Mills students, if you 'love what you're doing.'

Author, illustrator, designer and podcaster Katie Green from the United Kingdom speaks to students at the Hickman Mills School District Freshman Center.

Author, illustrator, designer and podcaster Katie Green from the United Kingdom speaks to students at the Hickman Mills School District Freshman Center.

Katie Green was 25 when she packed all her life’s personal pain and her dreams of being a comic artist into the same handbag and dared to change her life.

Where she got the courage, she didn’t know, said the writer and artist from Devon in the United Kingdom, speaking to Hickman Mills Freshman Center students.

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But she got the notion that she could take her difficult battle with anorexia and sexual abuse — tell the story in heartfelt pictures — and produce an illustrated comic book that would go around the world encouraging and comforting young people like herself.

She wanted to be a professional artist, she told the students. She was determined to get the 30 pages of work that she had already done into the hands of a publisher.

So there she was, she said remembering the moment 10 years ago, with the pages in her handbag, seeking out a comics publisher who she had learned was going to be at a comic book convention. Nervously calling him by name, she handed over her precious work, asking him to please take a look.

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“It was scary going to the event,” she said. “It was scary talking to people.”

Today she is being sought out to talk about the influential book that came of it — “Lighter Than My Shadow,” 500 pages long — plus her popular shorter works, “zines,” and her Youtube podcasts, “The Green Bean Podcast.”

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Green will be one of the authors speaking at the Mid-Continent Public Library’s LitUp reading festival Saturday, May 4, an all-day event at the North Independence Branch, 317 W. 24 Highway.

The Freshman Center, with the help of LINC, gathered together students in the school’s communication arts group, to hear the author’s story and gain some courage of their own.

Piper Brown, 14, told Green she is working on a play and hopes to be a playwright. Kaijah Simmons, 15, is a writer with plans to produce short films.

They and other students peppered Green with questions over how the author got her start and how she made her creative career.

“Where did you get the concept for a podcast?” “What motivated you to write a book?”

It’s been hard, she told them. She had to work other jobs most of the time to support her creative career, and only in the past year has her art become her full-time career. And even then the logistics of her artistic business — contacting clients, packaging her products, managing contracts and accounts — takes up more time than the drawing.

But it will be worth it, she told the students, if you “make sure you love what you’re doing.”


That’s the kind of inspiration and commitment to creative arts that the school and LINC had hoped for when they asked Green to visit the school, said Bryan Geddes, LINC’s site coordinator.

“It was a wonderful opportunity for the children to see someone who made a career out of her passion,” he said.

Green said she calls it a gift to be able to travel to talk about her books and her other projects. She has spoken at events as far away as Bangladesh. It is gratifying that people are saying how much “Lighter Than My Shadow” is helping youth and parents understand difficult experiences like anorexia

And the podcasts, with her mixed terrier, Jack, are drawing a growing audience that enjoys her tales of the creative process — and dog adventures.


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