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News Community Local artist illustrates Cherokee children's book

Macon County native and Macon County News employee Amberly Rogers knew she would be an artist since she was a child. In elementary school she was given the task of putting a book together as a homework assignment and she's been drawing books for fun ever since. Now that she's grown older, it is still fun, but she's also getting paid to do it.

“I've done art my whole life. Even as a little girl, I was drawing tattoos on people for a dollar,” said Rogers. “Now as an adult, I tattoo clients and draw for a living. You know, if you truly love something you will take the time and master it to the best of your ability.”

Though she is a tattoo artist for now, she has also ventured into other artistic outlets. In 2010, when Rogers was taking graphic design at Southwestern Community College, a teacher of one of the classes she was enrolled in happened to discuss her above average illustrative skills with the officials of the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Pages from the book The Elder Turtle illustrated by Amberly Rogers for the Kituwah program. The book is translated to the Cherokee language to use as a tool to involve children and get them interested in the Cherokee language preservation program.

At the time, the group was searching for illustrators to work on some books in the Cherokee language to be used in schools on the reservation. The goal for these books is to take Cherokee stories that have been handed down from generation to generation, translate them to books in the native language and add colorful illustrations that will appeal to children not only on the reservation, but around the country as well in hopes of preserving the Cherokee language.

Rogers' first venture with the Kituwah program, “The Elder Turtle,” was released in 2011, to a warm reception. The book was chosen by Chief Michell Hicks for his annual reading to the Cherokee children. As a result she has been commissioned for at least three more books by the Kituwah Preservation. As an added bonus, the finished product will help build an impressive portfolio to assist her in reaching her future goals.

By the end of the year, Rogers is striving to gain employment illustrating at a publishing company which would allow her to produce books year round. Though, it sounds like an idea that would require her to leave her hometown of Franklin, she feels as though that will not be the case.

“The nice thing about doing illustration work, is that with the internet I can work at home,” said Rogers. “No matter where I am, I can send the work in digitally. So its great because, one day I can work for someone in California and the next day I can work for someone in New York.”

Amberly Rogers and book she illustrated The Elder Turtle.For now, she also intends to pursue the world of e-books. After speaking with local artist Michael Rogers, she believes that the ever growing technology may be the next step in the evolution of what she hopes to eventually call a career. For now, the budding artist is working at Ink Junkies Tattoo in Franklin, using her employment strategically as a way to draw every day.

Tattooing is a great job for an illustrator because you draw constantly and its always something different,” said Rogers. “It keeps the creative wheels rolling and that's why I'm going to persue to that now. I think it will be a good way to keep moving forward towards my goal of becoming a full time illustrator.”

When she is not working on tattoos or books for the Kituwah Preservation, she still uses her skills to pass the time, even putting a book together for her daughter, Cherish. Based on a dream, Rogers created a fictional story called “Calypso” that may be found on the shelves of bookstores all over the country one day.


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