Illustrator Dave Atze digs deep into his belly button for his first book
He's not usually a wordsmith, but this Murray Bridge children's artist is giving it a go.
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A Murray Bridge illustrator is about to take the biggest leap of his career – at least since he quit working in retail.
Dave Atze has drawn pictures for more than 20 children’s books over the past some years, including John Barwick’s Nursery Crimes series and Cameron McIntosh’s Max Booth: Future Sleuth.
He has created designs for Zuru Toys and Moose Toys, and even mapped an adventure park in Geelong.
But he’s about to do something he has never done before: publish a book he wrote himself.
Belly Button Fluff is the tale of Scarlett Von Scruff, a little girl whose unusual discovery in her dad’s belly button leads her on a fun-filled, yet slightly icky, adventure.
Writing words to fit around his illustrations had been an exciting challenge, Atze said.
“I don’t consider myself an author,” he said.
“I’m not good at writing or all that literary stuff.
“But I’m a very good storyteller – at parties I’m the person telling stories.”
In this case, the story had its origins in his days at Mitre 10, where he wondered how on earth fluff from his shirt kept finding its way through another layer of clothing and into his belly button – "has it phased through my T-shirt?"
He kept thinking of a little girl in mining gear, exploring a cave, looking for belly button fluff.
The nerves kicked in when the time came for him to pitch the idea to publishing house Simon and Schuster.
But in the end they liked it so much that they signed him up to do a sequel.
“They were happy to see something that not everyone is writing about,” he said.
“They get hundreds of manuscripts a day and they’re all about the underdog who triumphs, you know?
“This is just a silly book, it’s about having a lot of fun.”
He described his career so far as “the best snowball ever”, considering how it has escalated: from a hobby to a side hustle, selling art at comic conventions; to illustrating his first book for Matthew Nicholls and Boy in a Box Productions; to the point where he is now so busy that he regularly has to turn down offers of work.
He won’t spill the beans yet, but he has a major collaboration with a well known Aussie author coming up, too.
Not bad for someone who, not so long ago, thought he’d always be best known as that guy from the hardware store.
Belly Button Fluff will be released on September 15.