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Author Alon Seifert Talks about Kickstarting Spider’s Heart

Since 2005, Alon Seifert, author of a Spider’s Heart, a successfully funded Kickstart project launched April 28th, worked at McCann NY as SVP, Group Creative Director handling clients like Verizon Wireless, Staples, General Mills, Nikon and more. In 2011, Alon became the global creative lead on Nespresso where he led teams from Paris, Milan and London working on the George Clooney campaign. Prior to his move to NY, Alon served as CCO of McCann Israel and led the agency to become a two-time McCann Erickson EMEA Creative Agency of the Year. Advertising awards including Cannes, Epica, Eurobest, 3-time Grand Prix winner and Agency of the Year at the Israeli Advertising festival and more.

In 2013 Alon left McCann NY to pursue his own creative projects in advertising, branding, film directing and product development. Outside of advertising, his creative pursuits have led him to solo and group art exhibitions working in mixed media. Alon is also the proud owner of a gold album for directing “Metropolin” music videos. In 2014 Alon designed a Menorah that will be sold at MoMA and the Jewish museum among other stores.

Eitan Cohen, illustrator of a Spider’s Heart, is an art director, graphic designer and illustrator. He graduated first in his class from Bezalel the Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel in 2010 (B.Des). Currently, Eitan is the Creative Director at Talkspace and has been an art director for BBDO Tel Aviv and GREY Tel Aviv. Eitan enjoys singing and plays the piano and guitar.

IR sat down with author Alon Seifert to talk about Little Pablo, the vegetarian spider, art and whether or not he’d do the project all over again.

Loren Kleinman (LK): Spider’s Heart reached its Kickstarter goal on June 6th and you’re still going. What’s the premise of a Spider’s Heart and where did the idea come from? And why an adult children’s book? 

Alon Seifert  (AS): The premise of “A spider’s heART” is that (every)one should follow their hearts despite the hardships. I have three boys and when I read to my youngest, my older boys are disinterested most of the time. The challenge then became finding a book that would engage them at every level, so, rather than trying to search for it, we decided to create it instead. With “A spider’s heART”, we wanted to take a unique approach to storytelling that introduces kids to art through the tale of a vegetarian spider artist.

LK: How does the spider choose its own path? And how do you present his internal struggles to readers of all different ages?

AS: As a baby spider, Little Pablo starts to learn about the world from his Mom. Upon realizing that he needs to spin webs to capture food (bugs), he became torn between his natural born instincts and his disdain for having to do so in order to survive. Without feeding on bugs and flies, becoming a vegetarian was a no brainer for him… except that vegetables do not get caught in webs as they do not fly.

During his struggles, Little Pablo discovered art, which ultimately helped him channel his urge to spin webs into a spectacle that would ultimately help him solve the problem of how to make vegetables fly.

The tale of Little Pablo’s first few days of being in this world presents a spectrum of life’s challenges in a delightful tale that resonates with all readers, and not to mention, the underlying message of believing in making the right choices and also, the perseverance to see those choices through.

LK: What’s been the most challenging aspect of creating this book? Of campaigning? 

AS: The most challenging aspect was finding a voice that will really appeal to all ages. Running a Kickstarter campaign is also a lot of work, and staying focused for such long periods of time was straining for our short attention spans.

LK: How can art save us? How can you make people care about art? 

AS: Art is inspiring. In little Pablo’s case, art provides a physical refuge, which is a metaphor for real life. We feel that you can only make people care about art by inspiring them, by showing them something that will trigger an emotional reaction. All the talk in the world about art is just talk, when art makes you feel, it becomes a part of you.

LK: How did you come up with the character of Little Pablo? Does he make you smile when you think of him?

AS: Little Pablo’s character grew as we were working on the project. He would always have an unexpected thing to say, which keeps us on our toes. At times, Little Pablo could be very poetic while others times, he would act like you would expect a spider to: hanging out in the corner of our studio above us.

When you love someone, they always make you smile, no?

LK: Why a spider? What kind of morals does Little Pablo share with his readers? 

AS: Spiders are amazing artists and they are very prolific. Little Pablo doesn’t want to kill anyone and we believe his readers would share those morals, as we’re certain that they don’t want to kill anyone and eat them either…

LK: Talk about the drawing process. What is the overall creation process like for this book?

AS: The illustrations are creative interpretations to the text. We would read the text together and try to come up with an unexpected drawing that will not mirror the text, but instead add another (fun) layer. Then, Eitan drew it. Simple.

LK: Will there be a companion book up next? What’s in the works? 

AS: We would love for this story to become a short animated film. In any case, Little Pablo’s spiritual journey has just begun.

LK: Is the book didactic or, purely educational?

AS: When you read the book, you don’t suspect it of having an agenda of any kind and we believe that that is its true strength. We tried to expose readers to ideas not through preaching, but instead, through connecting with the ideas and characters in the story.

LK: How would other characters in the book describe Little Pablo in five words?

AS: Believer, humane, lover, friend, an inspiration.

 LK: What have been some of your favorite children’s books and authors? Why?

AS: Everything by Dr. Seuss. He created experiences that are beyond words. Something that defines our childhood, grows with us as adults and the unforgettable wit and insight and humor and a voice that will stay with anyone who ever reads any of his stories.

LK: Would you do this project all over again if you could? 

AS: Tomorrow.

LK: Respond to this quote by Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care: “I don’t know whether you can look at your past and find, woven like the hidden symbols on a treasure map, the path that will point to your final destination.”  How does it relate to a Spider’s Heart? To Little Pablo?

AS: I will respond to it with a Steve Jobs quote that says: “You can only connect the dots looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”