Art Is Magic: Behind the Scenes of “The Beacon of Emshire, Chapter 1” by Sean Greenberg

CoverCover art for The Beacon of Emshire, Chapter 1

Art is truly something magical. This is something that Sean Greenberg realized at a young age and let his imagination take rein as he pursued his passion for all things art. A final year Illustration student at Sheridan College and an up-and-coming Hamilton artist and author, Sean chose to bring one of his stories, The Beacon of Emshire, to life for his final thesis project. Having just published the first chapter, I sat down with Sean to hear more about the process of creating this illustrated/graphic novel, his aspirations and the local arts scene.

About the book:
Long before the battle of Titan skies. Even before the forging of the ten blades and the building of the Beacon of Emshire. Before the final days of unification and the defeat of the Necromancer. There were two young wizards whose bumbling exploration of magic would do more to change the course of the world than they could ever possibly conceive. However, there is a monster terrorizing the world, threatening to end everything, before it even begins.

For this is a time of unruly magic, a magic that spontaneously changes creatures into monsters, and causes calamities of a massive scale. Which means this is also a dangerous time for two young wizards on their own in a chaotic world.

Avishka: You just published the first installment in a series of illustrated/graphic novels, The Beacon of Emshire: Chapter 1, which is also your final thesis project! Can you tell us briefly about the story? 

Sean: It follows the two most powerful wizards that exist in this fictional world that I have created, as well as some other immortal characters that are going to exist throughout the story.  This first one is just an action-packed monster fight, just so we can get into the action quickly.

A: You started this series back in Grade 6. I’ve had the chance to see how you write and get your thoughts down on paper. It’s really something because I can almost see the wheels turning in your mind as you write away. Can you describe for our readers what your writing process is like?

S: It usually involves a very large cup of coffee at a shop, just writing away in my journal and half the time, deciding what I want to have happen to my characters! At the same time, I’m also trying to figure out what parts of the story I actually want to illustrate. Sometimes I have to cross out entire pages because I realize that I’m doing it a bit backwards! Mostly, I’ve been working on the story overall in my mind for the longest time and it has undergone some very significant plot changes and character developments since I first began creating the book.

A: What approach did you take when creating these characters? Where did you draw inspiration from? 

S: Ooh that’s a good question. I guess I mostly try to imagine what they would do in the situation they’re in and still leading to the outcome that I want to have happen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA work in progress: watercolour paint and ink come together beautifully in these pages

A: Do you have a favourite character, or one that you relate to the most, and why?

S: My favourite character is one you won’t meet for a very long time still. In fact, in this part of the storyline, he’s not born for another thousand years! My favourite character in this chapter though would be Bogadon, I suppose.

A: How does it feel to see this novel come to life, first on paper with your story and illustrations and then the final product, all 27 pages bound as a book?

S: It’s quite gratifying, it means I’m en route to finally getting these books out and creating my lifelong ambition. I just hope other people like it. It was fairly exhilarating first seeing my artist proof; it made something that has only ever in my mind a real, tangible thing, an actual object you can hold and move around in 3-D space.

A: What have you learned from working on this novel that you will use going forward with the next few novels?

S: Quite a lot, actually.  I now have an actual process method of how I can construct the book, so I can work on it and create something overall.

A: What has the process been like to independently publish this book through Blurb? 

S: Interesting. There are really amazing tools now that you can use online to getting yourself published without having to go to one of the major publishers, and hoping someone thinks your idea is worth printing.

A: How has the support been in Hamilton, whether it be local bookstores, shops and artists?

S: The support has been positive so far, but still in the very early stages, and I’m not sure how things are actually going to work out. I’m fairly optimistic, especially since the first few stores I went to have been very interested in finding ways to sell my book.

A: Are you excited to showcase the book as your final project at the upcoming Sheridan Illustration Grad Show?

S: In a word, TERRIFIED! But I’m very excited about it and very nervous too.

A: What are your plans once you’ve graduated? Will we be seeing your artwork around Hamilton in the coming months?

S: Well I certainly hope so! I plan on showcasing in local stores, while working on Chapters 2 and 3. I really hope to have Chapter 2 published within the next five months, but there is some wiggle room there. I’ll also be looking for any freelance jobs I can get a hold of at the same time.

‘The Beacon of Emshire, Chapter’ 1 is now available for purchase at James Street Bookseller as part of a LIMITED artist’s edition run! If you are interested in purchasing a copy, please contact Sean at His book will soon be available online through the Blurb Bookstore and the iBookstore.

Be sure to check out Sheridan College’s Illustration Grad Show “New Faces”—taking place on Apr. 10 starting at 7 p.m. and continuing on Apr. 11 from 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.—where Sean and his fellow  final year illustration students will be showcasing their final thesis projects. For more information about the grad show:

To see more of Sean’s work, please visit

Visit his artist profile:

Sidenote: Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to watch Sean work on this novel from start to finish, from seeing him write the story and get initial sketches down on paper, to creating these characters, adding watercolour and ink and seeing the final product, all 27 pages bound as a finished book.  From the very first page, I was captivated and it was a pleasure to help him edit the story. It’s been amazing to see this story come to life and see the amount of detail that goes into creating the characters and the landscapes. The stylistic elements, from the calligraphy to handwriting the text, really enhance the book as a whole.  He has been working incredibly hard on this novel and I am so proud of him. As someone who is in no way artistically inclined, in a visual arts sense, it’s something to watch an artist master their craft through all the stages, and I admire him for his creativity and determination.  This has been a lifelong dream of his and now, and it’s wonderful to see it becoming a reality. Congrats sweetie, I love you! ♥


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