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By Emma Taylor

It’s not often in our current times that one has a want or need for something that isn’t already being offered to them in an exhaustive variety of forms. Targeting algorithms flood our senses by the hour with gadgets and gizmos aplenty, boasting their ‘bespoke’ nature. But when one does find oneself in that rare space of desire for something truly unique, it’s only the most industrious of us that view it as an opportunity to create. Sarah Collins is one of the creators.

Today, there are many titles that could be used to help describe Collins: children’s book author, graphic designer, artist, illustrator, dual-degree holder, teacher, wife, mother. But before any of those things attached themselves to her, she was a little girl growing up in Manatee County drawing future inspiration from the unique landscape and architecture of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Collins was raised with the influence of an artist mother who helped to nurture her creativity from a young age. “I’ve just always kind of been an art person!” Collins said of her artistic proclivities. However, despite her ever-present love of the arts,
she decided to major in history when attending Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. “At the time, they didn’t really have a great program, and I don’t even think I knew what graphic design was,” Collins laughed.

Collins married her husband, Tim, a native of Palmetto, shortly after graduating from Samford, and the two moved to Anna Maria Island to begin their life together. Collins was working for a nonprofit when she realized how much attention she was giving to aspects of her job that were based in graphic design. “Any time I had to design an invitation for an event or a flier for something, I would spend SO long working on them. I just really enjoyed doing it, and I kept thinking, ‘I need to incorporate art into my life more somehow’,” she exclaimed.

With the realization taking shape in her mind, Collins began looking into different art programs that would equip her with more tools to hone her passion. She decided to pursue an additional degree in graphic design from State College of Florida.

Collins savored her return to school, taking only a few classes each semester. “I loved going to school there!,” she gushed. “I really kind of miss it, you know? The critique days where everyone discusses each other’s work…,” she trailed off wistfully.

After five years back in school and welcoming her first baby, Collins graduated with an associate degree in graphic design. She didn’t know it at the time, but it was the convergence of these two life events that would lead her to publish her first book.

Shortly after graduation, Collins found that she loved reading Bible stories to her young daughter, but she was having trouble finding something that checked off all the boxes she was looking for. “I noticed she (her daughter), like most kids I think, really liked rhyming stories. It helps them to remember if they can memorize the words. The books also always seemed either too babyish or too advanced. I was struggling to find something age appropriate—right in the middle. So, I thought, ‘I can do this!’,” Collins recalled, echoing an oft-repeated (and oft-fulfilled) mantra of hers.

Collins needed a little guidance when it came to the scope of the book, so she looked to Goodnight Moon. She counted out 30 lines in one of the author’s classic children’s books, and decided it was the perfect length to
help teach her daughter the story of how God created the Earth in a way she would find fun and entertaining.

Armed with her target length and desired story, Collins wrote the text part of the book very quickly. It was creating the artwork for the piece that would come to occupy most of her time. “I spent about a month doing the illustrations. It was all I did! I feel like whenever I get an idea, I just become obsessed with it—like it’s ALL I can think about!” Collins said of her creative flow state.

Collins’ first book, God Made the World, tells the Creation story with cute and memorable lines against the backdrop of stunningly colorful, geometric illustrations. The imagery evokes lines and moods commonly seen in mid-century modern art and architecture—an artistic genre that Collins has always taken note of and loved. She remarked on the prevalence of the style in Sarasota’s visual landscape as having a not-so-subtle influence on her personal aesthetic. Collins had, quite literally, created the book that she wanted to read, or rather, the book that her children wanted to read.

Collins shared her completed story with a family friend who works as a book
agent. He was impressed and spent about a year shopping it around to
different publishers. Oddly enough, it was Collins’ unique illustrations that
gave some printers pause. “I wanted to try something different, so a lot of the pictures are, well, I guess you could call them abstract. That’s why a lot of publishers
didn’t like it initially. But I finally found one that did in Tyndale House out of Chicago!,” she said proudly.

Not only was Tyndale House excited to publish Collins’ first book in 2017, but they also offered her a contract to create two others. God Made the Ocean and God Made the Rainforest build upon the unique style and themes of her debut to continue teaching children the Creation story through two more bright and
memorable storybooks.

Collins’ signature artistic style and homegrown inspiration are on display on this issue’s cover with her illustration of a summer storm rolling into Anna Maria Island—a sight that she, like many of us who know our slice of paradise well, “has always loved.”

Collins is currently doing graphic design and illustration on a freelance basis in addition to homeschooling her two children, and serving as the president of Riverstone Classical Academy, a home/in-person hybrid school that she created with several other women in 2020. Collins’ books can be purchased on Amazon, and you can learn more about her on her website

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