Gareth Hinds recently took Gardiner Area High School students, faculty and community guests on their own journey as he explained the process of adapting Homer’s The Odyssey into a graphic novel. This classic tale is a cornerstone of the grade 9 English curriculum, according to a news release from Debra Butterfield, teacher-librarian at the Gardiner high school.

Gareth Hinds Photo courtesy of Candlewick Press

Hinds, of Hyattsville, Maryland, guided his audience in describing how he travels from the spark of an idea through to his nationally acclaimed books. Because of grants written by Butterfield and The Maine Humanities Council and The Onion Foundation, Hinds offered four presentations filled with stories of his own growth as a graphic novelist and video game designer.

He highlighted skills he utilizes in his work, ranging from outlining to geometry to time management. He also created and revised sketches as he spoke, demonstrating his artistic decisions. He showcased how he merges traditional artistic techniques such as figure drawing and watercolor painting with technology such as Photoshop and Adobe InDesign.

The English Department sent Hinds questions ahead of the presentation day so that he could focus on images students were most interested in and explain the artistic and creative decisions he made. Students had a chance to ask questions, win copies of books that Hinds signed for them, jump into a photo with their new favorite author, and some even got their casts or sneakers autographed.

Hinds sent out a challenge to the audience to let go of their inner critic and follow their Muse in the creative process. Between now and May, students will continue to focus on graphic design and bookmaking in classes, participate in a variety of workshops, and develop work for the English Department’s new literary magazine.

In May, Hinds will rejoin students and staff through a Skype session to celebrate student work and offer additional suggestions and encouragement.

Junior Mavi Pellegrini commented that Hinds’ presentation was “very encouraging and inspiring for my future artistic journey. Receiving feedback from him about my artwork on display in the Library really lifted my spirits,” according to the release.