Late in September 2013, local author Loranne Marsh Temple contacted Brianne Presley ’16 to discuss illustrating Simone Comes Home, a book inspired by Temple’s granddaughter who was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Prader-Willi Syndrome hinders development in a child but also requires testing after birth that prevents a timely homecoming. Simone Comes Home is a book that tenderly explains the delayed arrival of Simone, one of Temple’s 18 grandchildren.
“I got her name through a friend of a friend,” Temple said of how she was first introduced to Presley. “Brianne immediately wrote back and said she’d loved to be involved. I knew we wanted her to do this — but I had no idea at the time how very essential she would be to the project.”
Presley, a studio art and dance double major, was an ideal choice for the project not just because of her artistic abilities, but because of her hometown connection — she grew up in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
“I told Brianne that I wanted the drawings to be fairly simple, a bit caricaturish,” Temple said. “I wanted a touch of whimsy, something to lighten the essentially serious but hopeful nature of the story.”
After presenting Temple with a few rough sketches, Presley set out to work on numerous illustrations over the course of nine months. “An individual illustration took anywhere from four to six hours to finish after fixing and changing the original drawings or starting them over,” Presley said of the homey colored pencil drawings.
But Presley’s involvement did not end with the illustrations. Temple explained that last summer her husband, who had planned to put the book together, was in a bicycle accident and needed to recover. “He wasn’t up to putting the book together as planned. Brianne came to the rescue and put the whole thing together with me sitting by her side, her doing the work with that artistic eye.”
The book may well be a prelude of things to come for Presley. “This was just an enjoyable side project at first,” Presley said. “But after completing it, I have thought about a career in illustrating for a publishing company later in life.”
Temple thinks publishing would be an excellent choice for Presley. “Any company would be so lucky to employ her because of the range of gifts she brings — artistic, technical and human. She is a pleasure to work with — a perfectionist, but she gets it done, too.”