How Larry Came to my Life

—Posted by Carla


In advertising and marketing, a lot of ideas are born. Most of them end up in a power point stored deep in a hard drive. Others are bought by clients. And a few ones inspire their owners to travel a road they never imagined existed.

That was my case. And that idea was Larry.

I was asked at work to design a character for a Christmas story we were pitching to a client. I did the first sketches. The sketches were rejected, but they sparked in me a project. Back then, I had been living in NY for several years, and my admiration for diversity was at its highest point. In my opinion, this was the only fact that make this city special and worth to live in. So I thought, ‘What if I could reflect all the richness of New York’s immigration and cultural diversity in a series of carefully illustrated characters?’

Timing—although dreadful for the global economy—was on my side. It was 2008. The stock market had collapsed. My boss thought my idea to take a sabbatical could not be timelier. He not only encouraged me, he actually gave me the means to buy all the materials needed.  And believe me—as my list of characters grew—the amount was substantial!

Thus were born Sumita, Jin and Bernard. Each of them shown to my ex boss and colleagues, almost like a focus group. They encouraged me to go on, so I kept going. I would walk the city for hours in quest of inspiration, very much a la Henrik, the Irish hare who can see beauty even in the grittiest of streets.  One by one, Larry & Friends’ 21 characters came to life. They had a name, a nationality, an occupation and a gift. They wanted to talk about tolerance, integration and love. But they were silent.

As you already know, that’s when Nathalie came into the picture and put words to the images.

In our minds and hearts, the book came to life then.

But now—almost four years later—we realize it was just a book, a beautiful one for sure, but just a book.
It wasn’t until we heard the giggling of children and adults alike, that we realized the book actually had a life of its own: joyful, happy, inspiring and magical.
And for that, we are more grateful than you can ever imagine.

So danke, grazie, gracias, merci, obrigada and thank you in all the beautiful languages of our amazing world.