ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS – Maybe it’s because she herself is so personable and generous. Maybe it’s because she loves animals and strongly believes she has an obligation to use her talents to help a variety of causes. Maybe it’s because she earned her degree in illustrative art at Syracuse University and uses it so well. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above and then some.
Whatever the cause or reason, the result is sheer happiness and glee for anyone from infant through adult who picks up and reads one of the more than 40 books by more than a dozen different authors that Morgan Spicer has illustrated.
The attractive brunette, married to her husband, Zack Brown, residents at Victorian Woods in the hillside section of the borough, recently donated two of her books to the Friends of the Book Club new mini-library site at the Municipal Yacht Harbor. She does that a lot, donating to good causes, that is, because of that feeling she has to help good causes, especially nonprofit organizations and in particular animal protection and safety groups. Commission her to illustrate your pet and mention one of her non-profit partners, and she includes donations to that cause or for research from her own fee.
Morgan said she has been drawing one way or another since she was five and her mother started her on art lessons. After high school, she went on to Syracuse to earn her degree in the university’s illustration program, where she met her husband, a native of New York. Reluctant to leave his native state, Morgan said he was sold on moving to Monmouth County when he fell in love with the community, people and beauty of Atlantic Highlands. He is a financial planner whose office is in Red Bank.
Morgan works from home and says she is so busy she rarely is working on a single commission at a time. She recently completed illustrating a book for one author, and currently is working on two others, in addition to illustrating pictures for customers who want artwork of their individual pet. While book illustrating takes up most of her time, the artist said she has many customers who like illustrations of their animals, then come back to have more done of other pets. Nor is the list limited to dogs; she has illustrated pet rabbits, cats, horses, and even a guinea pig!
PHOTO: Morgan Spicer and her husband, Zack Brown, are the proud companions to 5 adopted dogs, 4 of which are shown.
Morgan works using Cintiq, a computer program that enables her to draw directly on the tablet then Photoshop her designs. She actually creates two books for each book she does, the first a “dummy book’ so the author can have input into what the finished product would be, the second, the final version which the author then publishes.
She works according to the individual style of the author, Morgan says, noting some leave most of the creativity up to her, while others want to have input and give suggestions of how they want specific areas or pages designed.
“My Name is Musky” is a perfect example. Written by Matty Giuliano of Hazlet, telling the story of his pet ferret named Musky, the book is filled with captivating drawings of the critter -in his cage, in the forest, under the moon, with his canine and feline friends as well as with humans. The drawings bring out the charm Giuliano pours into his writing as well as the passion the illustrator has for animals of all kinds.
“I do think my passion for animals shows in my work,” she said, explaining that one day she is hopeful of being part of an animal rescue facility.
Although her primary work is in book illustration currently, Morgan also just submitted an artwork in plaster and papier mache to the Art Alliance for their new exhibit. “But I don’t know if it has been accepted yet,” she said with hope.
To date, Morgan has completed more than 8000 animal portraits in the past nine years, as well as the more than 40 books, including a coloring book, for different authors. She has dabbled with the idea of writing her own book as well as illustrating it, and has also worked on a graphic novel and a couple of other books soon to be published.