Nov. 4 2014 06:26 PM

San Diego artist's new children's work is about ditching fear and pursuing passion

Michael Amorillo
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Michael Amorillo's art is whimsical and colorful and often includes adorable characters that could easily fit in a children's book.

Amorillo's heard that last sentiment repeatedly, and, this week, he's launching Monstro and the Kelp Kids, a children's book that he wrote, illustrated and published. The book will be available alongside canvas works at Gallery 97, the newly reopened alternative art space at Rhino Art Co. (97 N. Coast Hwy. 101 in Encinitas). The show opens from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8.

Amorillo's book stars a loveable monster who wants to swim but is told he can't. He's eventually inspired to leap into the ocean, where he joins up with the Kelp Kids, an eclectic bunch of creatures who lead him on a worldwide adventure atop a giant, purple whale.

"It's basically about overcoming your fears and following your passion," Amorillo explains.

The artist's background is in graffiti, but he's always been more interested in the characters than the lettering. He also grew up surfing in Long Island, which is why much of his work is ocean-themed.

"All of my art is really trying to relive how I felt when I was younger and the freedom I still feel in the ocean," he says.

The North County artist, who recently completed a large-scale, water-themed mural at Dive Day Club at Harrah's Resort Southern California, says he's also been working on a Monstro and the Kelp Kids animated trailer. Next month, he'll start pitching the concept to television networks. He's already written the show's theme song, which he sings himself.

"I just want to do something like Bill Cosby and Fat Albert did," Amorillo laughs. "As a kid, I just thought it was so rad."

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