Bryan Ballinger is trying to raise a STINK!

By Shawn Cunningham

With an Aug. 8 deadline approaching on his Kickstarter funding campaign, former Chester resident Bryan “Breadwig” Ballinger is optimistic that he will raise the $20,000 needed to publish his “scratch and sniff” children’s book, Animal Gas. At press time, his appeal to help produce the allegory on how we perceive our ourselves (and how often we are wrong) has commitments of about $7,600.

Bryan Ballinger hopes his Kickstarter campaign will help him to publish a children's scratch and sniff book.//All photos and illustrations copyright Bryan Ballinger.

Bryan Ballinger hopes his Kickstarter campaign will help him to publish a children’s scratch and sniff book.//All photos and illustrations copyright Bryan Ballinger.

Inspired by a former roommate, Animal Gas is a picture book in which animals pass gas and pretend it smells  like something really nice. The scratch and sniff areas portray these great smells as well as some not so nice odors. The message is to understand and be honest about yourself.

With more than 20 years of illustrating children’s works, including VeggieTales and The Great Cheese Squeeze, which he co-authored, Ballinger says he “really, really wanted to do this book. I shopped it around a little (to publishers). But by self-publishing, the artist has more control and much more connection with people who buy the book.”

Putting out a traditional kid’s book would have been fairly straightforward, but the olfactory component adds complexity and expense. “There aren’t many printers who want to work with scratch and sniff, and it raises the cost per copy quite a bit,” says Ballinger. Once he found a “really, really good printer,” Ballinger had to figure out the right number of copies to make the book affordable. “Printing 750 copies brings the price down to about $35 per book.”

Learn more about the funding of Ballinger’s project by clicking here.

Influential teachers at CAES, GMUHS

Breadwig inside

The cover of Ballinger’s scratch and sniff book. Click picture for a larger view.

Ballinger’s family moved to Chester in 1977 when he was in fourth grade. He has fond memories of his school years, especially one particular Chester-Andover Elementary teacher. “Seeley Morton taught an advanced reading class – I think in fifth grade.” Ballinger recalls, “He introduced us to all these great books and had us reading at a level way above our ages. It was fabulous. He was the best teacher I ever had.”

At Green Mountain, Ballinger said, he and his best friend – Heath Gordon, who died last year — blossomed in the art department under the direction of teacher Nancy Turek. “She got Heath and I to enter gallery shows, try all sorts of different artistic media and really helped push our art to another level,” Ballinger remembers. “She was fantastic.”

Ballinger, who graduated from GMUHS in the late 1980s, says the nickname Breadwig came from reading about how people in colonial times cleaned wigs by baking them in hollowed out bread.

Today, Ballinger is an associate professor of digital media at Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, where he now lives. Even so, he still has a soft spot for Chester. “I loved growing up in Chester,” Ballinger says. “And when we come to visit my mother, my daughter loves it too. Chester is my favorite place anywhere. I wish we could live there now.”

Should his Kickstarter campaign succeed, Ballinger will be donating copies to Chester-Andover Elementary and the Whiting Library, as well as to schools in Indiana.

Kickstarter is an online way to fund creative projects, putting creators together with backers to bring art projects to life. According to its website, Kickstarter has funded 45,000 projects since 2009. 

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