Published on January 26, 2023 by Ashley Smith  
Oliver Book Cover

Mary Anne Freeman and her husband Michael (Mike) have been longtime supporters of the School of the Arts at Samford University. They sponsor a theatre and dance series each year as well as support the Annual Juried Art Show that takes place each spring. Mary Anne is the secretary of the School of the Arts Advisory Board, and both she and Mike spend many hours at Samford cheering on our students at their concerts, theatre productions, art shows and more.

When Mary Anne retired, she wanted to write a children’s book about their beloved dachshund named Oliver. Oliver ruptured a disc in his back when he was five and the Freemans worked with veterinarians to fashion a wheelchair for him so that he could continue to have a full life. 

The Freemans met Memory Smith when she was a freshman at Samford and had her work on display as part of the Annual Juried Art Show. Smith kept in touch with the couple after she graduated in 2019 and was asked to illustrate Mary Anne’s book in 2022. The pair worked together to create the book and then Mary Anne self-published Let’s Roll, Oliver just this year.

“The Freemans have always been so kind and supportive, and I have been interested in illustrating children’s books since high school,” said Smith.

The illustrations took about four months to complete. They are digital illustrations that incorporate brush textures of traditional mediums like watercolor, pastel and graphite.

“My favorite part of working on the book was illustrating dachshunds! I love animals, and the dachshund has a very interesting and fun look,” said Smith. “My favorite illustration in the book is a full page spread of a doggie x-ray. I got to exaggerate the dimensions of Oliver across two pages, work in black and white, and I hid a ‘dog eats homework’ joke in there. It was such a fun job, and I would love to take on more like this in the future.”

Smith graduated from Samford with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. She currently serves as an art director at Lifeline Children's Services, a nonprofit based in Birmingham focusing on adoption, foster care, global orphan care, counseling and pregnancy counseling. Along with supervising the creative team, planning campaigns, and designing, Smith also helps plan photoshoots and helps photograph the people she works with.

One of her professors contacted her about the position available at Lifeline Children’s Services and she began work there right after graduation.

“I know that without my Samford education I would not have been so well prepared to land that job, and I would not have been prepared at all for the challenges that working at a nonprofit presents,” said Smith. “Specifically, the scope of knowledge needed for the variety of formats you’re asked to design, and other creative tasks that are thrown your way. From web design to publication to illustration and photography, Samford had me covered. I’m especially grateful to Professors Richard Dendy and Scott Fisk for giving me all the tools I needed to succeed when I graduated.”

Mary Anne is currently sharing her book with Birmingham area schools. It is available in both hard back and soft back, and can be ordered through her website or at these Birmingham locations: Book Nook by Rocky Heights in Homewood and Greystone Marketplace.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.