Outside the Lines

Souris Hong-Poretta is the moving-a-million-miles-a-minute mind behind Hustler of Culture, Tiny Iron Fists and is now the proud curator of Outside of the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book for Giant Imaginations .

A long-time friend and supporter of GR and its artists, Souris has created something that appeals to the kids we have, the kids we know, and the kid within us. Many of the artists featured in her collection of images for re-imagining will be familiar names to GR fans. Souris gathered together the work of over 100 illustrators, painters, street artists, designers and other creatives to fill the pages of Outside the Lines.

The range of work in the black and white collection runs from crisp graphic design to intimately detailed illustration, showing those with markers and crayons at the ready that the possibilities for visual genius are endless.

GR was able to sneak in a quick interview with Souris about her latest endeavor and its inspiration.

GR: Congratulations on Outside of the Lines. Can you tell GR readers a bit about Hustler of Culture?

SHP: I worked for Tokion Magazine from 1999 to 2002, and when I moved on I was still regularly receiving invites to events. I wanted to share them with friends and blogging was just really starting. My friends at Typepad set me up with an account and I started posting my invites for the public. In the halcyon years, Hustler of Culture was a hot spot for finding out what was what in New York and LA. However, in the past several years, it’s been neglected due to full-time employment and a kid.

When Outside the Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book for Giant Imaginations goes on sale, I’m going to put Hustler of Culture on hold so that I can focus a bit more on other creative endeavors.

GR: How did this project come together?

SHP: Outside the Lines came together rather quickly and easily.

When [my daughter] Lulu was about one and half years old, I observed that she colored more in her coloring book by renowned artists (Moebius, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring), than she did in her generic coloring books, which she had plenty of. I thought it’d be cool for Lulu to color the work of her artist dad as well as our friends’ work, so I wrote artists I knew about contributing artwork for a coloring book. Within weeks, 70 said, yes! I got a literary agent and book deal pretty quickly after I wrote my book proposal and now, two and a half years later, the book goes on sale September 3!

GR: The book features an incredibly diverse group of creators. How did you pull together this line-up?

SHP: Many of the visual artists were friends I made during my Tokion years. The other creative contributors have been friends for nearly two decades, well before they were museum-exhibiting artists, hit game makers, or big time music and film peeps. A few others were friends of friends, including some of yours, and Keith Haring’s contribution via the Keith Haring Foundation was an, “ask and you shall receive” scenario.

I basically asked all my friends and then some of their friends, and the result is a book made up of the people we endeavor to know and surround ourselves with, on all occasions.

GR: There are other specialty coloring books on the market, besides the newsprint books you can buy at the grocery store.  What sets your collection apart?

SHP: The line art in Outside the Lines was contributed by creative folks from all disciplines. Many are visual artists, while others are musicians, video game designers and artists, art directors, comic book artists, illustrators, directors, photographers, graphic artists and more. They are all “working” artists and many are masters of their craft.

Outside the Lines contains artwork many artists wanted to color themselves. A few pieces, at first glance, may not appear to be kid-friendly. But all of it is art!

GR: Who is the book for?

SHP: Outside the Lines is for kids of all ages. Big and small. While Lulu inspired this book, it was made to also remind me to keep it creative! This book is for anyone who wants to color outside the lines of a traditional coloring book.

GR: You’ve worked in publishing, art, marketing and promotion. Was there anything that you weren’t prepared for as you brought this project together?

SHP: I’m married to an artist and have worked with artists for nearly two decades. In my endeavor to have a coloring book with contributions from 119 creative folks, I had no idea how easy or hard it was going to be to organize the artwork. The artists in this book are very in-demand professionals with crazy-busy schedules. Collecting the artwork was at times, like trying to catch chickens, riding on the backs of cats.

GR: How was this project different from your other past endeavors with visual artists?

SHP: The biggest difference is that it wasn’t an assignment and was inspired by my family.

GR: What’s next for Hustler of Culture and Outside the Lines?

SHP: Hustler of Culture will get a much deserved break for an unknown amount of time.

Outside the Lines will continue to live along a happy and organic path… I’m going to let it turn into whatever good it can be, for as many of us as possible. I’m hoping Outside the Lines will help people learn about some of these artists and that some of these artists will find a new audience.

You can get your own copy of Outside the Lines here from the GR webstore or visit us on Sawtelle and pick up a copy in person.