Queen Anne artists plan literary tour

Jessixa and Aaron Bagley are shown working at their studio table.

Jessixa and Aaron Bagley are shown working at their studio table.
Aaron Bagley

Aaron Bagley is an artist, illustrator, and author living and working in Queen Anne with his wife, Jessixa Bagley.

Fans of the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market are likely familiar with Aaron’s work. For the past three years, his playful designs for the market posters have been all over the hill inviting guests to the market. The first of the special edition Harvest Markets will be this Saturday, Oct. 28, and the poster features fat pumpkins, cute forest critters, and evergreen decorations for the season. Other Harvest Markets will be Saturdays (Nov. 18 and Dec. 16).

“The farmers market posters are really exciting,” Aaron said. 

He had long dreamed of doing the farmers market posters but it was quite the ordeal to be chosen since they only select a new artist once every four years. In 2020, artists were asked to submit some work online and provide a little background info. Aaron says he was lucky that a friend reminded him to apply and he ended up turning in his artwork less than an hour ahead of the deadline. Then they narrowed it down to three artists to interview and made the selection from there.

He really loves the work by previous artists Frida Clements and Victory Gardens and said he enjoys creating the posters but it is not always easy. 

“I really try to strike the balance between fun and stately.” 

Since the market likes a continuous theme for the four years of images, he decided to create a whimsical design with lots of details- people, animals, and oversized foods. He says the greatest thing about this gig is becoming such a part of the community when he joins events at the market and does poster signings. And he is looking forward to working with the Director of the Farmer’s Market, Matt Kelly, to help select the next poster artist and truly feel like a part of the legacy of this farmer’s market.

Aaron’s next big thing is a collaboration with his favorite longstanding partner, his wife Jessixa. They are known individually throughout the Seattle art world and have often partnered on special projects: from their first meeting as students at Cornish College of the Arts to the present, college art shows to professional art shows, and designing their wedding invitations to publishing their debut graphic novel.

Duel was written by Jessixa and illustrated by Aaron. Simon & Schuster won the rights to publish from a lively auction crowded with 11 different publishing houses, exciting and unheard of for a debut novel. Jessixa, who had already written several children’s books described this process as “very fun and kind of surreal!”

This book is an impressive 330 pages that tells the story of two sisters who have so much trouble getting along that they challenge each other to a duel. 

“And the story is told from the perspective of both sisters so each chapter alternates from the perspective of the older sister and younger sister.” Jessixa said. Besides the personal aspects of sibling rivalry, the book also draws on her own fencing experience.

Jessixa describes Aaron as the perfect partner because he is somebody that she could trust with the story. It was initially difficult for her to let go but she realized the story was already so personal that she didn’t want it to be like illustrating her own life.

“I knew that he could give the story what I needed visually.” she said.

Aaron describes this process of creating a graphic novel as being not for the faint of heart. He said it takes a lot of time and patience but he’s thankful for his talented partner, “I often say that Jessixa handed me a perfect manuscript to work from.”

The book has many universal themes and will be widely distributed. Jessixa is also hopeful it will help spur broader interest in fencing: “It’s a sport that is both mental and physical” but “was not very inclusive and that there used to be active racism in it.” 

As a Black woman, she is very excited to know that there are many young people of color picking up a foil and many extraordinary Black fencers now. “My hope is that all kinds of kids will find fencing and that they will find a way to do it.”

The first stop of their book tour will be Sunday, Dec. 3, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Salle Auriol Fencing Club in Interbay, 1415 Elliott Ave W. Queen Anne Book Company will be the sponsoring bookstore. 

Other stops will include festivals in Texas and California, school visits, and awesome library visits that they have planned. www.qabookco.com/book/9781534496552