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VPR But Why podcast coloring pages and NVU-Lyndon students

The work of five NVU-Lyndon student and alumni illustrators and their professor, Barclay Tucker, received great exposure through a coloring pages project with VPR’s But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids in spring 2020.Illustration of unicorns by NVU Professor Barclay Tucker

When kids and families were suddenly stuck at home due to the pandemic, VPR’s Coordinator of Community Engagement Ty Robertson had the idea that printable coloring pages might be a nice addition to the podcast experience.

“It’s a popular podcast, with 18,000 subscribers worldwide,” Robertson said. “I saw the coloring pages as a benefit, especially at this time with so many kids missing school,” she said.

Robertson found Tucker through another artist friend. “I love opportunities to work with organizations I can support,” Tucker said. “And the opportunity to do something like this for educational purposes and for children is just what I love to do.”

When Robertson asked Tucker if he knew of more illustrators, he proposed a few alumni and a few current students. Robertson was clear that she wanted to work with illustrators from Vermont, Tucker said, and he proposed students who he knew would represent the school well, had a good work ethic, and stood out. For example, one student had already done some work professionally, and another needed the boost to realize she could, he said, while all of the students had a style that matched a coloring book feel.

Two NVU-Lyndon alumni — Lauren Turmel and Shelby Spinks, and three current NVU-Lyndon students — Xiaochun Li, Amanda Adams, and Yvette Moran — took part.

For Yvette Moran, an Animation and Illustration major graduating December 2020, “it was an amazing experience. I’m really glad my professor reached out to me about it.” Moran’s illustration accompanied the “Why Do We Sometimes See The Moon During The Day?” episode.

Lauren Turmel, a 2011 NVU graduate in Graphic Design with a concentration in print, says, “It was a fun project to do, especially during the quarantine. It was a nice opportunity to provide a creative outlet for kids at home.” Turmel is a teacher with the Milton Family Community Center, developing before and after-school as well as summer programming. She creates coloring sheets for her work with children, and this project was a natural fit. Lauren’s illustrations accompanied the “Ghosts, Fairies and Gnomes, Oh My!” and “How Do Bears Sleep All Winter?” podcasts.

Barclay Tucker, in turn, illustrated coloring pages for five separate episodes of But Why, including “Kangaroos, Koalas and Wombats! Why Don’t They Live in Cities?” and “Why Do Elephants Have Trunks? Why Do Giraffes Have Purple Tongues?”

Ty Robertson says she is exploring ways to turn the simpler illustrations into a coloring book to use as a promotional item as part of a fundraising campaign for But Why.