Visual Artist Trevor Loomis never considered himself an illustrator, but thanks to a recent interdepartmental collaboration at UNLV, he does today. Loomis—a now graphic design graduate—is one of the Department of Art designers who worked with the Department of Teaching & Learning for All Are Welcome, an exhibition of children’s books focused on inclusivity and equality. 

Trevor Loomis was one of several UNLV design and education students who worked on the children’s book series All Are Welcome. Photo: Crystal Lugo

Design and illustration professor Tiffany Lin, along with education professor Chad Scott, launched the project last spring.

Though illustration was new territory for Loomis, he looked forward to branching out. Before Professor Lin’s illustration class, he’d focused on typography and corporate branding styles but knew there were more avenues to explore.

“Art Can Connect Us All,” one of the books from the All Are Welcome project, was written by Lauren Hawthorne, Bailey Hart, and Michael Swanson, with artwork by Andre Johnson. Image: courtesy UNLV College of Education

“It started on our end with character sketching, and we moved to the storyboard,” said Loomis. “In both of those situations, everything’s very rough and very fluid.” 

The writers and illustrators worked closely to ensure characters were coming across the way the writers intended, which resulted in three pieces: the storyboard, cover art, and two-page spread for their assigned story. 

Each book was illustrated by two to three different illustrators, so there are different versions of each. The exhibition, located in the Clark County Library Gallery on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, features selected storyboard sketches and other materials. 

Loomis worked with art education students Andrea Chavez, Morgan Cummings, Amanda Hillman, and Laycee Tocco to make a book titled The Color of Different. The writers envisioned their characters as paint bottles or paint brushes.

Trevor Loomis and his team wrote a book on inclusivity in which the characters are paint bottles. Image: courtesy UNLV College of Education

The exhibition holds a special place in Loomis’s heart because he’s the father of a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. Though his kids are a long way from reading and attending school, he often thinks about the media they’ll consume and how it’ll impact their characters. 

“Whether it be books, television, or even YouTube videos, the more goodness and happiness it shows and the more mingling of people, it’s only going to make children better people,” Loomis said. “The subject of inclusivity is definitely something I’m happy to see moving forward in children’s works.”

Loomis said this project has opened many doors for him in the graphic design industry. Though he enjoys creating political and social media graphics at his current job, he might dabbling further in illustration and animation—especially video games—and now has the skill set start.

The All Are Welcome exhibition is on view at the Clark County Library on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas through May 25.

Cover image: An illustration from the book Hau is Just Like You, written by Tanner Bundy, Kathryn Doty, Rosalinda Esparaza, and Belen Luna and illustrated by Briana Calacsan. Image: courtesy UNLV College of Education

Posted by Crystal Lugo

Crystal Lugo studied journalism and English writing at the University of Nevada, Reno. She enjoys writing nonfiction and poetry and dabbles in film photography. When she isn’t brainstorming or photographing, you can find her journaling or daydreaming about travel. She lives in Las Vegas with her kitten, Oliver.