A southwest Colorado-based printmaker pairs with the musician Shinyribs to ask, “Who Built The Moon?”
The song "Who Built The Moon?" by Shinyribs is a mythical story of a lonely pilgrim who creates the moon from an onion to combat his isolation. Through his tears and toil, he forms a celestial body that influences tides and connects everyone under its watchful presence.
The Pilgrim's legacy is the shared wonder we all feel when looking at the moon, a symbol of collective solitude and curiosity. Here's Kevin Russell, the multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who is the main creative force behind Shinyribs.
Kevin Russell of Shinyribs: "I knew I wanted to write a song, but thinking... my mind to it was... maybe... I thought it might be more of a kid's song, you know, but once I played it and lived with it, I was like, 'This is just a good song.' With children's literature, it's a specific genre, but like with children's music, I, I've always subscribed to the fact that all music is children's music for the most part, you know, it's, it's all human music and children are humans."
The person behind the crafting of the new children's book based on the Shinyribs song is Katie Terrell Ramos, a local printmaker here in southwest Colorado who also acts as the owner and operator of Mesa Verde lavender.
Katie Terrell Ramos: "So I was a music teacher. And I was teaching at an elementary school, and my husband got a job in Texas. And so it was either keep teaching in Colorado or go live with him. So I went with him for a summer. He encouraged me to take my first art class ever since middle school because I did music during high school and college. I took an art class at the Southwest School of Art, I think it's what's called, and it was a block printing class. A
We were going to learn screen printing and all these different things. And one week into the class, my teacher had a rubber stamp in her art box. And I stopped the class. I was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are those?' and she explained it, and I didn't learn anything else in the class. I just carved rubber the whole time. And that's how I became obsessed. Now I've carved probably over 5,000 stamps at this point."
Katy saw Shinyribs while in Luckenbach, Texas, and was encouraged by her father-in-law to check out the legendary conga line that Kevin often conjures at the end of his shows, and she was instantly taken in by their performance.
Ramos: "We got into the conga line. I was like, 'Oh, my goodness, this musician is magic.' I published my first book, 'EGBDF, The Musical Yak,' and I sent it to him, and I said, 'You know, you're one of my favorite artists; I'm super inspired by you. It would mean the world to me if you sing the song from the book.' And two weeks later, he sent me a video with him singing the song."
After some self-described fangirling, Katie decided to add Kevin to her next book of illustrations.
Ramos: "To thank him, I put him into my second book, 'FACE the musical Flamingo.' He's illustrated in it. And that's kind of where we got started. We started a friendship there. And then once that book came out, he asked me about doing 'Who Built The Moon?'"
Kevin says that he originally wrote the song with kids in mind. However, he saw the opportunity to put it into book form and was drawn to Katie's unique illustration style and ability to capture the nature of the song.
Russell: "The aesthetic part of an illustrator is what I was after. I didn't want just anybody doing it. I could, of course, hire somebody to do it. They've got to understand and appreciate where you're coming from and what it means. When I saw her artwork, I got to know her through the EGBDF book and really saw how productive and awesome she is.
I love her style. I like her, her mannerisms, you know, the way she represents characters, the way she thinks about her art. So yeah, it was just a natural for me. And I figured she would be into it because she was a fan, and she dug the song and everything. It seemed like a natural fit. She's so thoughtful about the way she approaches projects. I should be so thoughtful."
Ramos: "'Who built the moon?' is a little bit of Kevin's story. So Kevin had a musical story. That's just incredible. It's been fun to watch him in The Gourds. And then he went to Shinyribs. And I think he's just had this really cool path and his musical journey. And so I wanted to highlight his story."
"So in the book, he's riding the onion up into the sky, and the Lyric is 'he cut the ropes, and it came unwound, and he raised it up, up off of the ground.' And that was the hardest one to illustrate because I couldn't wrap my mind around an onion going up into the sky. I played around with the idea that the onion might be like a hot air balloon sort of thing. It all of a sudden has magical powers. And that illustration has definitely become one that I'm really excited about. That, and the moon at the end with the conga line."
They recently launched a Kickstarter for the book that was featured on the website's front page and exceeded its goal in just a few days.
Ramos: "Kevin and I kind of went through a journey of figuring out how we wanted to publish the book. And I asked him if I could do it as a Kickstarter because I've always wanted to launch a book with a Kickstarter, and I've never done it before. And he gave me the green light. I built a campaign, I got to design a bunch of different swag that goes with it, and some T-shirts, tote bags, like all sorts of really cool stuff. But what it helps us do is order a ton of hardcover copies of the book. And then we can send a bunch of them out; they already have homes because people pledged to get a book in the Kickstarter.
But then also, we can have books to give to bookstores and places that when he goes on tour, he'll have them, and it's all for that. Our goal was $6,000. And last time I checked, we're at $25,000. There are over 100 hand-carved rubber stamps in it. It's been a labor of love and a project that I've dreamed about doing for years. It's been really inspiring to have a seasoned artist who is willing just to encourage me to follow my dreams. I feel really excited to keep doing this and illustrate more songs in books. That's my goal."
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