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Embarking on a Creative Odyssey: My Book Release and Journey through A.I. Generative Art

Amidst the whirlwind of pirouettes and Pythagoras in my early years of starting Dance Equations, I traveled from school to school teaching curriculum through dance. I needed material to introduce topics, so in early 2005 I began writing short rhyming phrases while sitting on my subway commute. Slowly a story began to emerge, a story quietly waiting to be told—a story of trees, activism, and the indomitable spirit of youth.


I wrote Treedom because I wanted to encapsulate my youth. I tried to convey through poetry, a time in my past life when I was very conscious of social and economic inequalities and community activism. I was a teen with a lot of energy, active, creative, and immersed in urban culture. A spark was ignited within my studies at SEED Alternative School, a progressive school with a  Street Art for Social Change class. The revelations of this class led to the creation of the Secret Sunflower People, a name inspired by Jack Keroacks Sunflower Sutra. This group is hard to define. We actively wrote zines, attended talks and protests, interviewed pioneers of social justice, ”subvertised”, participated in guerilla gardening, learned stilt walking, created giant puppets, and performed random street theatre. Some of our “productions’’ involved surprise subway parties, dressed up, and handing out chocolate-covered cherries to early morning commuters. Why? Because sometimes smiling is revolutionary. For us, art, life, love, and change were all wrapped in the same package. We asked ourselves; “what good was a future if not a bright one?” Certainly, the future was not worth living if it didn’t involve music, art, and celebrations.


Treedom took on many forms and went through re-write after re-write. The first version was around 1,700 words in comparison to today’s published version which is approximately 700 words. Though I had positive feedback from publishers, the book went dormant throughout its life cycle. When I finally picked it back up more seriously during the pandemic in 2020, I was determined to bring Treedom to publication. 


Now, you may be wondering, how does a dancer and author find herself entangled in the world of artificial intelligence? Well, my friends, that's where the plot thickens.



After pouring my heart and soul into authoring Treedom, I found myself facing an unexpected challenge: the elusive search for the perfect illustrator. I spared no expense in my quest, eagerly seeking out artists whose talents I believed would complement my vision for the book. My first endeavor led me to an accomplished classical painter, whom I'll refer to as Vincent. Intrigued by his portfolio and impressed by his reputation, I eagerly agreed, agreeing to his quote for the project. With hopeful anticipation, I eagerly awaited the first glimpses of his illustrations, believing that together, we would bring Treedom to life in vivid detail.


However, as the weeks turned into months, it became increasingly clear that Vincent's commitment to the project did not match my own. Despite receiving two pay installments, Vincent's progress was minimal, with only a handful of rough sketches to show for our collaboration. Frustrated and disheartened by the lack of tangible progress, I reluctantly terminated our agreement, left with little more than a depleted budget and a sense of disillusionment.


Undeterred, I pressed on, determined to find an artist who shared my passion and dedication to the project. Enter Seth, a seasoned illustrator with a professional website and an impressive portfolio. Excited by his enthusiasm and vision for Treedom, I eagerly entered into a new agreement, agreeing to his larger quote for the project. With renewed hope and optimism, I eagerly awaited the promise of progress, eager to see Treedom come to life once more.


Yet, despite Seth's initial enthusiasm and frequent communication, progress on the project soon ground to a halt. After yet another year, despite paying, once again, two installments, Seth's promises of completion remained unfulfilled, leaving me once again with nothing to show for my investment. His abrupt resignation from the project, citing unfounded accusations and a demand for further payment, left me stunned and bewildered, with no recourse but to pick up the pieces and start anew — with no useable illustrations, and no tangible progress.


Now more than $5,000 into the publishing process I had no illustrations. It was a gut-wrenching setback, to say the least. I had reached my maximum budget, exhausted all avenues, and still found myself at square one. The prospect of abandoning Treedom altogether loomed like a dark cloud on the horizon, casting a shadow over years of hard work and dedication.


I found myself at a crossroads, unsure of how to proceed. But in the depths of adversity, a glimmer of hope emerged—a new opportunity to explore the boundless potential of artificial intelligence and generative art. 


And so, my journey with Midjourney began, leading me down a path of discovery and innovation that would ultimately transform Treedom into a labor of love, unlike anything I had ever imagined. I dove headfirst into the world of generative art, embracing the challenge with open arms. From the early days of stumbling through Midjourney 3 to the exhilarating breakthroughs of the latest iterations, I experienced the full spectrum of trial and error. Hours turned into days, days into weeks, as I honed my craft and navigated the complexities of enhancing my drawings through A.I. platforms.


Through over 3,000 generated images and countless hours of experimentation and editing, Treedom began to take shape. Each click of the mouse brought me one step closer to realizing my vision, and with every iteration, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. The images of Treedom feel very much my own, I used various tools to craft each one. Although generative art is not yet accepted as a tool in which I can own my art, there is no way I could have created what I did without an immense amount of time, effort, skill, and patience, and in the end, a professional artist willing to fine-tune my work to create the continuity a children’s book requires. 


Today, as I stand on the cusp of Treedom's release, I am filled with gratitude for the journey that brought me here. From the highs of creative collaboration to the lows of artistic betrayal, every twist and turn has shaped me into the artist I am today. Because, despite the challenges I faced with the original illustrators, their involvement in the journey was invaluable. Their probing questions and insights helped shape Treedom into the masterpiece it is today. Moreover, their departure led me to discover the indispensable roles played by human illustrators, designers, and project managers in bringing Treedom to print-worthy status. Though the investment in this project has been extensive, the support and contributions from those who believed in the vision have been immeasurable. Joshua Wittman's (my husband) and Craig Simpson’s (my step-father) unwavering support and encouragement provided the foundation for this endeavor, while Shari Simpson's (my mother) endless revisions ensured its refinement. Ernst Schneider's meticulous attention to design elements added crucial final touches to the book, highlighting the collective effort of the team. Rachel Lang's artistic prowess and collaborative spirit were instrumental in guiding Treedom over the finish line, breathing life into its pages as the illustrator and adding her creations to the book when A.I. lacked complexity. Carrie Cojocari's expertise, organization, and resilience were essential in navigating the complexities of publication, ensuring Treedom's success as the project manager. As Treedom ll now beckons on the horizon, I am filled with gratitude for the collaborative spirit that has propelled this endeavor forward.


So, my friends and followers, I invite you to join me on this whimsical odyssey into the heart of Treedom. Together, we will discover the power of imagination, the beauty of resilience, and the endless possibilities that lie within each one of us, our youth, and our future communities. Treedom (The Uprooting) welcomes you to this journey and Treedom ll (The Awakening) asks readers to envision a new world where our stewardship and innovation unite.


With love and boundless creativity,

Miranda Abbott




2 Comments


Fantastic work, Miranda, and congratulations on getting it published!

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Happy that the spark of individuality you possess will be passed on through your work.

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