Happy Earth Day everyone! I’m excited to welcome children’s book author/illustrator Brian Russo to Frog on a Blog! Brian’s book A Friend for Yoga Bunny was published on February 22, and is a follow-up to Yoga Bunny, a book that features an adorable little bunny in yoga poses, and encourages kids to wind down and relax. Brian is passionate about helping animals and the environment through his art, which I think is fantastic and something I can really get behind. Let’s hear from Brian!
Hi! My name is Brian Russo. I run a little shop on Threadless.com where I sell t-shirts featuring Yoga Bunny, a character I created back in 2010 during my Yoga Teacher Training. Yoga Bunny now has two children’s books available from HarperCollins. Making these books has been such a joy, because it’s given me the chance to work with a small creative team. At the same time, I love running my own online shop because I have the opportunity to come up with designs on my own and then put them online as soon as they’re ready. Each t-shirt design feels like a little story that I get to tell all on my own.
In addition to bringing in a little extra income, the Threadless Shop gives me a chance to build a personal brand, based on my beliefs. As a Children’s Book Artist, I believe I must have some responsibility to the animals I represent in my stories. Based on this, I had the idea that a portion of my earnings from the Threadless could go to support Rabbit Rescue Houses. Although this wasn’t an option on the Threadless list of charities, the ASPCA was. So, for now, I’m donating 5% of my earnings from five of my first designs to that organization.
Then, with Earth Day coming up, I wanted to create a design that reflected my beliefs about the environment and contributed a small amount of my earnings to an environmental cause. One of the options on Threadless was the Eden Reforestation Project, which combats deforestation. I only learned about the organization through Threadless, but as you can see on their website and by searching their charity score, it seems that they do good work.
I don’t consider the way I live to be especially green, and I’m not an activist by any means. Yet, I do believe that the Earth is alive, and full of actual magic that I’ve witnessed firsthand. I’m very interested in, and believe in the existence of, animal spirits. I was recently reading about the Rabbit’s symbolism and mythology, and learned that in many cultures, the Rabbit is heavily associated with the moon. So, I recreated another version of my Earth Day design where Yoga Bunny represents the moon, as contrasted with the sun, behind him. I’ll also be giving 5% of my earnings from this design to the Eden Reforestation Project in honor of Earth Day. I read somewhere that the rabbit symbolizes humans’ connection to the Earth, and I believe that to be true. I’m grateful to both the Rabbit Spirit, and to Mother Earth on this day.
Happy Earth Day to everyone, and thank you for reading!
Brian Russo has been drawing since he can remember. He grew up in Short Hills, New Jersey, then moved to New York, where he earned a degree from NYU. Afterwards, he discovered something he loves just as much as drawing: doing yoga. He earned a teaching certificate from Yoga to the People in 2010, during which time he developed the Yoga Bunny illustrations. He now lives in Lehi, Utah (the setting of the film Footloose) with his beautiful wife, Emily, adorable son, Quill, and loyal dog, Spike. His favorite film is Spirited Away, and the celebrity he’d most like to meet is ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.