Children’s book features art by local illustrator

‘The Christmas Tree Elf’’ published in time for holidays

Forest Lake artist Jeremiah Humphries has drawn spaceships, trucks and combat warriors.

Now add elves to the list.

Humphries, a freelance concept artist and illustrator, finds his jobs on the Internet. When he saw a want ad on craigslist by Manhattan author Valentine D’Arcy Sheldon for someone to illustrate a children’s story, he applied for the job.

“He liked my work,” Humphries said.

Preliminary sketches were done to achieve the desired look for each character. Then the pages were created, followed by painting and editing.

On his website (, Humphries says, “I always strive to make my clients and their ideas look amazing, and I have never failed to meet a deadline.”

He kept that promise on this project even though the schedule was tight.

“I worked 15-hour days at the end to get it to the printer in time for Christmas,” he said.

The book

When Santa and Mrs. Claus decide to bring a tree inside their home and decorate it for Christmas (the first indoor Christmas tree), the tree catches fire!

An elf named Blink saves Christmas. Blink teaches the Clauses how to care for their tree, and he and his elves help out by building toys in the workshop.

The elves also make it their mission to care for all trees that come from the Christmas Tree Forest.

The creators

The author, Valentine D’Arcy Sheldon, works as a television producer and editor in New York.


He studied creative writing at Hamilton College, earned a Master’s Degree from the Tisch School of the Arts and attended the Rhode Island School of Design. This is his first book.

The artist grew up in Forest Lake, where he was home-schooled.

“I started drawing for fun,” he said, “and got serious at while I was at college.”

Humphries studied animation techniques at Northwestern College in Roseville, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in digital media arts and Bible in 2009.

College was expensive, he said, and possibly unnecessary for his career.

“Many of the skills I’m using today are self-taught,” he explained.

“To be an illustrator, it’s probably unwise to go to college,” he added. “None of the clients care if you have a degree.” Instead, clients need to know if the artist can draw something they want to see.


Humphries said he took a few basic painting and drawing courses and met a lot of interesting people at college, and there are other reasons to get a liberal arts education.

One of his earlier projects was also a children’s book. For Aloha Landscaping of Mendota Heights, he illustrated “There’s a Sponge Growing on the Roof,” a book about eco-friendly green roofs.

Humphries is happy to do all types of illustrations. “Technically, drawing a castle doesn’t feel different from drawing a spaceship,” he said.

At age 27, he’s just getting started in his career, but things look promising.

“I’ve always been good at drawing,” he said. “I’d like to be able to do it forever.”

“The Christmas Tree Elf” is available at

©Valentine Sheldon Company
©Valentine Sheldon Company