Skip Bowers

Illustrator, The 1947 Freedom Train

When Kathy Maggart and Kathie Eidson approached Skip Bowers about illustrating their book The 1947 Freedom Train, the veteran animator, graphic designer and visual creative developer had never heard of the historical train that visited over 300 U.S. cities in the late 1940s. But once he hopped on board, he created a multitude of dynamic images that brought their compelling story, its characters and the train itself to life. Skip’s insightful, inspiring and colorful illustrations illuminate every scene in the story.

These illustrations include the opening scene at the Atlanta Braves baseball game, Grandpa Charles’ classic blue Chevrolet convertible, and a front porch scene where Grandpa engages the kids in the story of the Freedom Train as an image of the locomotive with a flag soars overhead. More beautifully illustrated scenes include eight U.S. Marines standing guard as people line up to board the train back in 1947, Grandma Pearl presenting a luscious apple pie, the kids getting busy building their own “Freedom Train” out of cardboard boxes, and the neighborhood kids lining up for a ride on their train for a journey of fun and learning they will never forget.

The book cover illustration shows the train emerging from an impressionistic image of the American Flag as white smoke from the train swirls all around. “Kathy and Kathie came to me with a detailed outline of the book and from that I began visualizing the illustrations. The art on the cover was birthed from an idea Kathy’s husband, Tim, shared with me of the flag in the background and the train bursting through the stars and stripes,” says Skip. “Trains always have a lot of smoke trailing them so I wanted to work that element into the image via circle type patterns in the brush strokes as well. With the story itself, the three of us collaborated on how best to portray the story from the stadium baseball scene in the beginning to the kids saluting the flag on the last page.”

“The whole process was fun because we had such a unique theme, a wonderful story and Kathy’s desire to fit in those very American icons: baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. I also had a great time doing research about the actual Freedom Train and made sure that we stayed true to the actual history, while giving children a fun and educational story.”

A graduate of Ringling School of Art and Design, the Atlanta based artist has over 17 years of experience working in animation, illustration, graphic design and TV production. As a visual effects artist at Walt Disney Feature animation in Orlando for three years in the late 90s, he worked on several blockbuster films that defined what some people call “Disney’s second golden years”: “Hercules,” “Mulan,” “Beauty and the Beast: Encore Edition,” “Back to Neverland,” “Kingdom of the Sun” and “Tarzan.” He then spent a year as a Flash Designer/Animator for Disney Online in Hollywood, CA, serving as Lead Artist/Designer for “Mouse House, Jr.” and creating promotional banner ads for “13 Days of Halloween.”

Working for Warner Bros. Online in Glendale, CA from 2000-2002 as Supervising Animator/Flash Lead, Skip developed over 60 animated episodes in flash, including Looney Tunes and Gotham Girls. He directed, created storyboards and did animation, character design and prop design on animated episodes for Looney tunes, Gotham Girls and Lobo. He also designed the website.

Since launching his own multi-faceted creative production company, Bounce789 Studios, in 2003, Skip has provided script to screen solutions (including Creative Development, Storyboarding, Web/Mobile Apps, TV and Animation) for a companies in a wide range of industries, including Cartoon Network, Campbell’s Soup, D.C. Comics, Cheap Trick International, Gilbert & Manjura Marketing, Alter Seekers, Competitive Edge, Swing Smart, GolfLogix, First Energy, Super Stroke, SeeMore Putters, Hasbro, Inc. and the live touring show “Lord of the Dance.”

In early 2013, Skip also began working as Creative Director for Ernest Sports, a company that creates innovative technology geared towards enhancing golf performance. In this capacity, he is responsible for all phases of creative development, from concept origination through final implementation. This includes U.I & U.X. design and development, graphic, Design, Print, Web, DP of video, directing, video editing, storyboards and concept development.