The morning after the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, designer and illustrator Laura Eckes rode the train to work and read about the events of that day. She felt an all-too-familiar mix of emotions: anger, sadness, a desperate desire to affect change, and guilt over the reality that she probably wouldn't. But then she thought about work, and her coworkers, and decided this time would be different.
Eckes works as a design assistant for HarperCollins. "My friends at work are not only talented designers, but also incredible illustrators," she told Spine. "I would definitely pay for a print of something they made, and I was betting that other people would too. I thought we could raise a lot of money if we all made prints that we could sell, with proceeds going towards an anti-gun violence cause. We all have really different illustration styles, so if we sold all of our work as a bundle, there would be something to attract anyone to buy them."
Her coworkers agreed, and as a group they decided on a theme — peace — and a recipient — Everytown for Gun Safety. "They have millions of members and a proven grassroots track record of moving the needle on legislation."
Eckes' contribution features a woman holding her hands around a small, green shoot, pushing up from the ground. "I was really inspired by the Parkland teenagers, who have been such a positive and inspiring force. They have been through hell and have come out unified and strong, and despite being voted down or talked down to, they are still fighting."
HarperCollins Senior Designer Aurora Parlagreco said the Parkland students also inspired her design, which centers on a quote from Emily Dickinson: Hope is the thing with feathers. "I wanted my piece to have a positive message that reminds viewers there is always the chance for good things to come about, even when the world seems bleak," she told Spine. "The Parkland students have showed such strength despite everything they've been through, and I hope our messages inspire people to keep fighting."
In addition to Parlagreco and Eckes, the following artists contributed designs: HarperCollins Design Assistant Michelle Cunningham, HarperCollins Designers David Curtis and Jessie Gang, and HarperCollins Senior Designer Jenna Stempel-Lobell.
Spine Authors Editor Susanna Baird grew up inhaling paperbacks in Central Massachusetts, and now lives and works in Salem. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Boston Magazine, BANG!, Failbetter, and Publishers Weekly. She's the founder of the Salem Longform Writers' Group, and serves on the Salem Literary Festival committee. When not wrangling words, she spends time with her family, mostly trying to pry the cat's head out of the dog's mouth, and helps lead The Clothing Connection, a small Salem-based nonprofit dedicated to getting clothes to kids who need them. Online, you can find her at susannabaird.com and on Twitter @SusannaBaird.