On today’s episode, Brittany and Connor talk to Elijah Stanfield, the illustrator of the Tuttle Twins.
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Here is the transcription of our conversation:
Connor: Hey, Brittany. So I wanted to bring on a special guest onto this podcast, a guest without whom there would be no tunnel twins, And we’re not talking about my wife, we’re not talking about I don’t know who else, the printer who prints the books, I guess without the printer. There would also would not be Tuttle Twins books, but no, we’re talking to, or I’m talking about Elijah Stanfield, the illustrator of all of our books and resources. Elijah, thanks for joining us.
Elijah: Glad to be with you guys.
Connor: So I want to take the liberty to ask you the first question before I throw it over to Brittany, for one. And I guess maybe let’s just actually start even bigger picture. Elijah, tell us a little bit about you and about your family, just so the listeners can get to know you a little bit more.
Elijah: Okay. Let’s see where to start. I live in Washington State and I have been a video producer and animator for the last 15 years or so since I graduated from school. And that’s been fun. I, really enjoy that. And then, what has it been seven, eight years ago you contacted me? Connor.
Elijah: And we started on this little adventure, the with the Tuttle Twins, and I’ve been drawing, so that’s what I do for business now. I have six children. My oldest is 19 and my youngest is five. And
Brittany: That’s a big span.
Connor: Yeah. Elijah, I was telling Brittany before we started recording about your involvement with some Ron Paul videos. I imagine a lot of the families listening are, Ron Paul fans. Tell us about your experience there.
Elijah: Yeah, so in 2007 when he was first campaigning I really got into it. He kind of woke me up to all these things that I had never known about, economics, central banking the proper role of law and government. And so I was really into that. And then four years later, when he was running a second time, I heard about this organization, The Revolution Pack, which was headed up with Tom Woods and Gary Franchi and a couple other people.
Brittany: I haven’t heard in a long time. That’s cool,
Elijah: Right? Yeah. So I just sent them an email and said, Hey, I’m an animator and I’d love to help out Ron Paul in whatever way I can. And they said, Yeah, totally. So I did a few free animations for them which I was just honored to, to be a part of that. And then those animations were kind of successful, so they said, Hey, can you keep doing more? So that’s kind of how I stepped outside of my, regular business and started doing kind of my passion type things. And that kind of, I think that’s what led to you finding out about me and contacting me. So just one thing leads to another
Connor: That’s interesting about business, right? Is, so often we might look at someone who’s successful and think, Man, how do I, you know, be the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk? But when you compare yourself to someone who’s much further ahead than you are, what you don’t realize, I think Elijah is what you just said. And that is oftentimes our, success in life and, and business and, and our professional lives. It’s, very incremental. It’s one thing leads to another. We go to an event and we meet a person, and then two years later, that person might happen to reach out and offer us a job, and that job might lead to making, you know, a new connection. So I, love that about business that it’s a lot of those tiny little things that happen. One question I had for you, Elijah, that, ‘d love for you to answer for all the kids listening is before the Tuttle Twins how did you try to teach your kids about the ideas of a free society? Or did you, what was that like before we started working on this project?
Elijah: Oh, wow. You know, it, it was a challenge because I was somewhat new to the old, the ideas myself. When I’d learned something new, I’d kind of just be really excited or anxious or something and say, Look at this information I found. And, and they just, maybe they were just kind of looking at me like, Here goes dad again. You know, ranting off about something. So but at, you know, really when I started my own business with my wife is when I really started to see that there’s all these principles that you have to apply to business and real life and economics, politics, all of a sudden it became a one step closer to affecting me directly, not through my employer. I think they’ve been able to see me deal with these things directly and, and applicably and not just theorize about them.
For example entrepreneurship. I mean, that’s all that you, that’s all I’ve been doing for the last 10 years since starting my own business. And they kind of see where I have to sometimes work with clients and maybe I don’t get the best, maybe I don’t get the amount of money that I wanted, but I, need to kind of compromise with them. There are lots of compromising in business and you can’t just like say, I have to do this, and you have to adapt and you have to come up with new ideas and look for new opportunities and create your own success. And so yeah, I, think especially in the last 10 years and starting on my own business I’ve, I, they have seen these principles of economics and politics play a real role in our business life.
So, but now with the Tuttle Twins now, they just read the books and it’s really easy cuz they, right? It’s, it’s a much, much easier to have these discussions. One of my favorite books still, I just read it and go, Wow, I can’t believe this is actually made, is The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island. I think that our book on the Federal Reserve is the clearest and most precise publication that’s ever been made. You read that and you know, what this thing is actually doing, what the Federal Reserve actually was made for and how it affects us in the most concise way that has ever been described. And I am really proud of that one. But I wouldn’t really have a discussion with my kids about the Federal Reserve in, normal life, but it’s something that they should know about. So The Tuttle Twins allows us to have that discussion in a lot easier way, you know, without having to have some sort of maybe my, until my retirement gets drained. I mean, that’s not gonna really happen except in the future, you know, they should know about it now though.
Brittany: Yeah. so I have a question for you. You mentioned something that I think is really cool and that’s entrepreneurship. And one thing that we’ve talked in previous episodes about with our listeners is how they can turn their talents into, into their business right. Into their job. So I want you to talk a little bit more about that because I think you’re a perfect example. You know, you realize that you really loved illustrating that you wanted to do that, but you were able to turn it into something that’s now your career. Do you think you were lucky to do that? Or, you know, what advice would you give to some of our listeners who maybe wanna do the same thing?
Elijah: I’ve thought a lot about that over the year show I have been so lucky or blessed to be in the position where I am at right now. And so I look back and I, I kind of see where it took me. I how I got here. I first started drawing when I was probably four or five. My brother was drawing, he was making some dinosaurs, so I started making those and I was, I was hooked. I just could not, draw like I was drawing for hours and hours and hours a day for decades, you know? I decided early on that I wanted to be an illustrator probably in comic books is what I probably wanted to start off, off in Spider-Man X-Men. And then when I went to college I was going to take the illustration route and get a degree in illustration, but the first semester I showed up the school that I was going to, The Delaware College of Art and Design opened up a program in animation and I thought about it for a while and I said, Well, I, do like the aspect of, of time and acting and, you know, it’s funny to make things move and it’s pretty fascinating.
I also, I also had and some interest in music, so I thought that that would have I could be able to, you know, use it. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I jumped in on that and it was a very small group of people that jumped in. So the department, the animation department is only like three or four people, so it was really hands-on. It was really great. And then let’s see. I, when I finished school, I went to in construction with my dad for probably about a year. And then I found a job locally in Washington. They were looking for a video producer, and I had dabbled in video doing animation, which is similar. So I jumped and I got that job. And so I was doing video, and then I started to introduce my animation to my video and. I just worked really hard and I think, and then at some point I realized that my, abilities were valuable to a lot of people and not just to my employer.
So I went freelance and started my own business, and so I could make animations for lots of companies. And then the Ron Powell opportunity came with the Revolution Pack. So I jumped on there, and then I got this opportunity with you. So I think the key is one, you have to be willing to work hard at your skill and develop it to an extent to where people value it. And I actually have realized that I’m actually not naturally talented at drawing. I think most of it is from the practice that I did because I liked it so much, and I never realized I wasn’t super talented. But when I look at some other people that have just started, I go, Oh, wow. They, they’re really developing this really fast, like a natural ability. Yeah. So I, think that if you’re passionate about something and then you can develop that skill to where it’s valuable to other people, and you need to have a support group around you, you need to have a family that supports you. You need to have friends that support you. Because I did have a lot of people saying, You can’t, you can’t be an an illustrator for a living. You can’t draw pictures. People just don’t. People just don’t.
Connor: I’m not gonna pay you for that, pay
Elijah: For that. And then the internet happened, and all of a sudden nothing happens without art. And nothing happens without video. There’s, there’s so much work for an artist in this world today. So
Connor: Elijah, what’s interesting about what you said is when you go freelance a freelancer is kind of another word for an entrepreneur, right? You’re kind of your own boss, and there’s a lot of exciting aspects to that. It’s great to be your own boss, but when you are a freelancer, when you’re an entrepreneur there’s also more risk, right? There’s not a, steady check. In other words, you know, when you, when you get a job with someone else, they’re gonna pay you typically every two weeks, you know, or in the middle of the month and the end of the month. And, and that’s feels a little more secure to a lot of people. They like that they’re kind of guaranteed to be paid, but an entrepreneur, you’re not always really often ever guaranteed to be paid. You’re having to constantly work and, and, you know, get sales and find clients.
And so it’s a lot risky, but there’s that saying of, you know, where there’s risk, there’s reward, right? That it’s the jobs and the opportunities where it is a bit risky, but there’s a potential to have way more success than if you were to just go get a job somewhere else, because then it’s the company or your boss or the owner who gets the the profit, right? Who gets all the money and you’re just gonna be paid this kind of consistent amount? So that’s kind of a good lesson, is that if you’re willing, and we talked Brittany on a past episode about how it’s best for young people to pursue entrepreneurship, right? Because they don’t have to pay a mortgage, they don’t have, .A lot of bills, Right? So it’s easier to, you know, there’s not as much risk. And, so you can still do that. Okay, Elijah maybe let’s Brittany, we’re gonna do a couple like rapid fire just interesting questions here at the end to get some quick takes you. And I’ve got one that I wanna start with. What is what’s your most enjoyable part of working on the Tuttle Twins books. A kid Stops You on the Street and says, What do you like about drawing in Te Tuttle Twins books, How do you respond?
Elijah: Oh, wow. Well, one, I get to draw and I love doing that. But the concepts that we talk about, economics, politics, and social principles in The Tuttle Twins are things that I think about a lot. As I’m working or just living my life, I’m thinking about these things. I’m really passionate about these things. So if I get to draw those things and help others understand these concepts that I’m so passionate about, that really excites me, that keeps, me going.
Brittany: So who is one of your favorite illustrators? Who do you look up to?
Elijah: Oh, wow. There’s a lot of them. There
Connor: Probably none of whom any listener will know. Right?
Elijah: Exactly. That’s exactly right. I read a lot of comic books when I was a teenager, a young teenager. And there, there’s a few, comic book artists that I really like Lee Weeks. He did like Daredevil and And the, and the Punisher and things. And then there’s Arthur Adams who did some X-Men, and he, I mean, he’s got a style that’s really interesting. So yeah, Joe Hubert, , he’s an old, illustrator from a long time ago. But hey, I really just, I really think they’re great.
Connor: And, one, one thing that’s fun about kind of doing your own business, Elijah, I’m sure you did this as a, kid, is, you know, if I were an illustrator, I would try and imitate successful people, right? So like, hey, that guy draw, like, my son’s doing this right now with anime, he’s starting to draw a lot of anime. And so he’ll see someone else’s anime or character, and he’ll try to recreate it, right? And, and so it’s nothing he thought up, but it’s the process of imitation that allows him to refine and improve his abilities, which I think is cool. So, did you ever, did, did you do that? It sounds like you did that as well with your comic books.
Elijah: Absolutely. I would look at the way that they would make things shiny, and I would say, How, how are they doing this and why does it work? So on, when I draw it to make, you know, some super blaster gun like shiny, I would see, oh yeah, it’s, that’s how it’s showing reflection and things like that. So yeah, there, Implementing those things. Now, I used to have a style in high school that was really like, I draw monsters and skulls and superheroes. So it was really intent, intense style. So when you called me and said, Hey, we’re gonna do a children book, I was like, Great. But then I realized that this style might not be the best thing. So I had to kind of create my own style, like some fresh, Yeah. So then I was able to use those skills that I had learned from copying other people and kind of use them to create something new.
Connor: What, Easter egg have you, well, first of all, explain what you do with Easter eggs, what Easter eggs are, cuz kids might not know that term who are listening. So what are these Easter eggs that you’re doing, and what is one of the, the favorite ones from this series that you’ve put into the books?
Elijah: Well, an Easter egg is just something that is a little bit hidden. Like, not everyone might not catch it, but some people might catch it and they’ll go, Oh, that, that reminds me of something else. Really my favorite thing is to draw people that I know in the books. My friends and you know, people that have helped us with The Tuttle Twins I put them in their families in the backgrounds. I sometimes
Connor: You did your neighborhood, didn’t you? Isn’t your neighborhood in one in the?
Elijah: Actually, yeah. Most of the books, you know, when you’re trying to visualize space, when you like, well, Ethan’s looking this way, and you show a picture, you show a shot of him, and you wanna see what’s behind him. And then you look at Emily and she’s facing the other, other direction, what’s behind her. So coming up with this spatial environment is actually kind of a, difficult thing. So what I did is I just made the spatial environment my hometown, so I know exactly, what things look like.
Connor: You can walk out. You can, you can walk out front and literally kind of visualize it.
Elijah: Yep, Exactly. So there’s, there’s Easter eggs of my hometown through all the books. Like The Road to Surfdom is based on a beach in Oregon called Rockaway Beach, which is the, my favorite beach in Oregon. Go there. It’s, so you’ll see like the crab shack and some people that work there and the, the boardwalk and all those things are, taken from Rockaway Beach and Oregon,
Connor: Including the Banana stand?
Elijah: No, the banana stand. The banana stand is from a, popular TV show from, I guess it’s been about a decade and
Brittany: A half. I didn’t notice that, but now, now it’s all making sense. And that’s,
Connor: Brittany’s got homework to do now.
Elijah: Yeah, the banana stand, You know, the banana stand is from a, TV show that I used to watch a long time ago.
Brittany: So I have one more question for you. I wanna know what your favorite Tuddle Twins book to illustrate was.
Elijah: Oh, Wow
Brittany: And why so two-parter?
Elijah: It’s really difficult because sometimes I go back and I read these, books and I’m just amazed that they’re, they’re even in existence. They’re so great. I mentioned Creature from Jekyll Island before but oh gosh, I think it might be the Golden Rule.
Elijah: And I think the Golden Rule is really just the foundational thing of the society. Like if you, if people can grasp that principle, then society will, be peaceful and prosperous and, and all these things. It’s really the core of everything. So I really enjoyed for that aspect, but also I likedit was kind of a homage to Ron Paul, who I deeply respect and was glad to, you know, do a book that was honoring some of the work that he had done in, in his book. So
Connor: Final question for me, Elijah, as we wrap this up. What do you do while you draw, help our listeners visualize when, when you’re sitting there work toiling away at all these beautiful illustrations that the kids love? What are you doing while you work on these things?
Elijah: Well, when I, get in my zone, what I’m doing is either listening to music and I, there’s, I have a few favorite bands. I like Muse, I like Weezer, and I like Jimmy Eat World. And then my son has a band that he started a couple of years ago called Wonder Bad, and I really like their music, so I listen to them. If I’m not listening to music, I’m listening to podcasts or interviews lately, I’ve been listening to Tom Woods, the Tom Woods show. Of course. I listen toEric July, and I’ve been listening to Thomas Sowell interviews, and I think he’s amazing Yeah,
Connor: He’s a smart guy. That’s cool. Well, you’re, doing great work. You and I are having a lot of fun together. And, and you and I know that we’ve been working on some behind-the-scenes projects that we haven’t announced yet that we’re super, super excited about. So
Elijah: Yeah, a lot of them, like five different ones, they’re, and they’re all gonna be great.
Connor: Lots of top-secret stuff. Well, this has been fun. Wanted to, to bring you on and we’ll be, we’ll have to do it again. I, we get a lot of praise always constantly about these illustrations and the Easter eggs are fun for people to learn. And so you’re, doing the Lord’s work. We’re educating a lot of kids, and, it’s a lot of fun. So we’re gonna wrap it up there. Elijah, thanks for joining Brit. Thanks, for having a conversation. We’ll see you guys next time. See
Elijah: You next time. Bye bye. Thank you.