Har Mar Superstar and Laura Hauser use coloring books to provide aid to music scene

The local musician teamed up with his fiancee and other illustrators to fundraise through coloring books featuring beloved Minneapolis venues.


Images Courtesy of Coloring Books for a Cause

Local rocker Sean Tillman, a.k.a Har Mar Superstar, and his fiancee Laura Hauser, saw the financial wreckage that the coronavirus caused within the Minneapolis music scene. All future shows and tours had been canceled. Musicians were out of work.

Tillman and Hauser decided to take action, and in May they bought a large printer and created the organization Coloring Books for a Cause.

Coloring Books for a Cause’s mission is to provide financial support to local musicians and businesses affected by COVID-19. Within the last few months, the organization put together two books for First Avenue, and one for Harold’s on Main, Grumpy’s and Palmer’s and the nonprofit Violence Free MN, respectively. Each book features work from different local illustrators.

Their first release was a coloring book dedicated to First Avenue’s impact on the local music scene. The illustrations focused on artists like Dizzy Fae, Gully Boys and Trampled by Turtles. The initial round of First Avenue coloring books raised $25K. That money went to the Twin Cities Music Community Trust, which then distributed the funds to artists.

“Sean is a local musician, so I think he was thinking about helping people he knows in his immediate life,” said Michael Gaughan, an illustrator who contributed to both First Avenue books and the book for Violence Free MN.

Hauser, prior to Coloring Books for a Cause, drew up illustrations of local musicians who were affected by COVID-19. Fans would send her receipts of their donations to an artist and she would send them an illustration as a thank you. Her work on designing these illustrations would later spark the idea for the First Avenue coloring book.

“We were talking about how the thank you cards did so well and we were like, ‘What if we use that and make a coloring book, because people are going to be at home and they are going to want to support musicians who are out of work,’” Hauser said.

Tillman was on tour with his band Heart Bones when the coronavirus struck the U.S. The band’s poster illustrator, Alexis Politz, would soon no longer be creating Tillman’s posters, so he asked her to be the logo illustrator for the Coloring Books for a Cause.

“He asked me if I wanted to make a super fun, little kid-type, logo,” Politz said. The logo is a black circle with a yellow heart in the center and two blue colored hands locked together inside the heart.

Stacey Combs, a friend of Tillman and Hauser’s, became one of the illustrators for the First Avenue coloring books. “When our first book came out we worked on it for maybe six days from start to finish — the ideation and making all the illustrations. It was pretty wild,” said Combs. In only two days, they had sold over 500 copies.

“We kept having people reach out to us asking ‘Would you do a coloring book for our business because we saw what it did for First Ave,’” Hauser said. That’s how the Grumpy’s and Palmer’s book was created, which sold around 1,000 copies.

According to Hauser, after seeing the positive reaction to the first round of books, the group holds aspirations to continue the legacy of Coloring Books for a Cause, but have yet to solidify the details.

“The community, musician and artist energy really kept us rolling and kept us excited.”