Severna Park Native Spreads Her Wings With Bird Book

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Arras Wiedorn may have left the nest, but she certainly didn’t leave her Severna Park heritage behind.

Wiedorn, a former Severna Park resident who moved to Kansas in April to work at a small zoo, said that “Losing Altitude,” an illustrated book about animals, is something she’s wanted to do for years.

“I thought it would be great to use an art book to teach people about species that they had never heard of, or perhaps misheard of,” Wiedorn explained. “Maybe, that way, people will start to think about how we can conserve those animals.”

Wiedorn began searching for artists from around the country and globe to contribute to the book, contacting them through email, online platforms and social media. “I ended up working with 47 artists total, some from here and some from as far as Australia,” Wiedorn said. “Everyone has varying skill levels, but [they] did a wonderful job.”

Wiedorn created a Kickstarter account, which allowed people across the globe to pledge money to the project. Unfortunately, Wiedorn said, the first Kickstarter campaign didn’t meet her fundraising goal, setting the project behind. Undeterred, Wiedorn created a new Kickstarter page the following year, this time surpassing the $5,500 fundraising goal by more than $2,000.

With proper funding, Wiedorn followed up with artists to submit their final pieces, writing the book and working with a Severna Park graphic designer called Whale Works Designs. “The hardest part was the writing and research,” Wiedorn admitted. “I’m a little too scientific sometimes and wanted to keep it light enough for the average reader but educational enough without getting too hard to read.”

Upon asking for help with editing and proofreading, Wiedorn received assistance from artists included in the book, such as Tallulah Cunningham from Australia.

“At the time, I had just finished writing the exegesis for my Ph.D. in illustration, so I was in academic editing mode,” Cunningham said. “I have a feeling I ended up making more work for Arras with my feedback, but I hope my contribution to that part of the project has made the writing stronger.”

With the art and writing completed, Wiedorn submitted “Losing Altitude” to The Art Bookbindery, a printing company in Canada. “I didn’t want to use a company that was far away overseas,” Wiedorn said. “I’ve heard of a lot of people getting their books lost or taking months to complete, so I was happy when I found the company in Canada.”

Wiedorn said the next steps involve color-checking artwork, making sure pages are in order and reporting to the printing company any problems the first draft might have. She hopes the book will be available in January or February, with selling locations yet to be determined. Those interested in learning more can view updates on www.kickstarter.com by searching for “Losing Altitude.”

“Animals have always been a part of my life,” Wiedorn said. “I’m happy I was able to make a book about them that might encourage people to look at them differently.”

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