Alumna set to publish first picture book on family festival experience

A BCU Alumna is set to publish the first picture book about the festival experience – but from the perspective of a child.

Katherine O’Shea graduated with a BA (Hons) in Visual Communication, specialising in Illustration, in 2010 and now works full-time as a Freelance Illustrator.

The book is inspired by her own experience of going to Glastonbury Festival for the first time as a new parent earlier this year with her husband and their daughter Molly.

The picture book, titled ‘Molly’s First Festival’, will celebrate the increase in popularity of attending festivals as a family and aims to provide reassurance to both children and parents about what to expect at a festival.

Katherine, who now lives in rural Somerset, said: “Molly's First Festival is the first picture book about the festival experience from the perspective of a child, a little girl called Molly.

“The book is being totally independently funded via Kickstarter, and I am the illustrator, author, marketing manager, distributor, graphic designer, and website developer all rolled into one.

“The idea for the story all came out of my own experiences going to music festivals as a new parent for the first time. My husband and I had never gone to an event like this with a toddler in tow and were both rather nervous, given the fact that our daughter had been born during the Covid lockdown and wasn’t used to being at such a large event.

“But music festivals are ideal for children these days and we had a fantastic time. Knowing how popular festivals are becoming with families, and how delightful it is for children to see familiar experiences in their bedtime stories, I wanted to make this story for all those parents and kids that love festivals and want to re-live the experience in a fun and colourful picture book.

“The aim is to provide reassurance to both children and parents about what to expect, and to celebrate the amazing range of activities that music festivals have to offer though familiar festival sights.

“As a new mum, I wanted to make it a realistic story; like with everything to do with parenting, the experience comes with its challenges, but ultimately it is about finding joy.”

‘Molly’s First Festival’ isn’t the first book that Katherine has worked on though, and the alumna has enjoyed great success in her industry since graduating.

She said: “The last books I published were ‘The Sailing Bear of the East Neuk’ in 2014, and ‘The Lion of St Andrews’ in 2012.

“These books were each published by independent Scottish publisher, Serafina Press, and both stories written by Jennifer T. Doherty, with both stories set in local Scottish towns. They have a great appeal for a local audience so children can recognise familiar places in their story books.

“Aside from children's books, I've been working in events and project management, most recently for Clayhill Arts as their Head of Programme & Operations, a job all about working with artists and championing creativity. Now I'm leaving to pursue my own creative calling, so it's been very inspiring. However, I am going to be working in their studio during an illustration residency throughout November.”

Katherine puts a lot of her success down to BCU and found that the course’s business-focused approach particularly helpful for her career.

She said: “BCU was one of the only places to offer a Visual Communication degree, and the all-round aspect of the course appealed to me - from graphic design to illustration to animation.

“I've used these skills many times over the years and found that a multi-skilled business-focused approach was a good example to set for a future creative career.”

With over a decade’s worth of industry experience so far, Katherine has great advice for current BCU students.

She said: “A creative career is a long hard road, and you need to define what success means to you and own it. I've maintained my creative practice during many challenging times in my life, and that counts for a lot.

“If you are going to pursue a creative career, find a way to do it that fulfils you and fill your life to the brim with supportive people.”

Find out more and support the Kickstarter for Molly’s First Festival here