It all started with the creation of mini coloring booklets.
They consisted of five, cute, digital drawings of animals that Mags McKinney ’24 would donate to the Dallas Children’s Hospital, where she was also once a former patient.
“I really enjoyed putting them together,” she said. “So, I started looking for a way to take the coloring books further while incorporating my love for animals.”
She immediately gravitated toward endangered species.
“The coloring books are not only fun, but they might also inspire a love for these vulnerable, yet beautiful, creatures,” she said.
And thus, her coloring book, “Incredible Creatures,” was born.
Her original goal was to raise enough money to publish 500 books within a 30-day timeline through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding campaign.
Her goal was not only met in one day of fundraising, but it was greatly exceeded!
“I was able to print a thousand copies to donate,” she said. “I am glad that there are so many others out there who are as passionate as I am about giving back to kids and raising awareness for endangered species.”
Through this project, Mags learned the value of persistence. She took the time to research each endangered species to make sure the facts were reliable and then spent time perfecting each digital drawing.
“While coloring books may appear simple, one has to think about the design aspect that comes with drawing each page: the composition, the line work, the kid-friendly style of the illustrations, etc.,” she said. “There were many steps in this process.”
For Mags, art is also a safe space. She’s always loved experimenting with it and finding new ways to push herself.
“I absolutely love to work in acrylic and oil paint, and I have always deeply enjoyed drawing in pen or pencil,” she said.
In more recent years, she’s started branching out- opening a sticker shop on Redbubble and creating numerous Gifs, which can be found on social media apps like Instagram. She’s also tried her hand at embroidery and looks forward to exploring the many more avenues in the vast art world.
Combining art and service has also been rewarding for her.
“Art has always been the backbone of who I am. It provides a way for me to express myself, even without the use of words, which renders it even more powerful,” she said. “It’s not only impactful on a personal level, but also in a public arena in which one can make a change. I am a strong believer in using talents to help others, and art is my gateway.”
Mags believes that it takes a village to make a change, which is why Serviam (to serve) is important to her.
“Every voice and every helping hand matters, no matter what one may bring to the table,” she said. “I enjoy serving others, whether that be trying to entertain children in need like those in the hospital or advocating for species that are susceptible to extinction.”