Posted March 30, 2020 by Jeff in Art

Har Mar Superstar’s Sean Tillmann Releasing Coloring Books for Charity

Coloring Books for a Cause
Coloring Books for a Cause

Har Mar Superstar’s Sean Tillmann has just released the first in a series of coloring books. Dubbed Coloring Books for a Cause, the series will benefit different charities and people in need.

The first book, which is out now, will benefit First Avenue’s Twin Cities Music Community Trust. It features drawings of many artists from throughout the history of the venue, including Atmosphere, Hüsker Dü, Lizzo/ Sophia Eris, Replacements and Trampled By Turtles. It even includes a Prince-shaped paisley maze.

The books will sell for $20 each and will be run as a mail order operation from Tillman’s home. The books aim to “give people some fun activities to do while cooped up in the house while providing some financial relief to those in need.”

“I had just arrived home from a Heart Bones tour that was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Tillmann in a press release “We knew things were serious, and real life felt more and more like a Twilight Zone episode each day.  The rules were changing rapidly, and, as a society, we were all accepting that self-quarantine and social distancing were the only shot we had to get through this without completely overwhelming our hospitals. Throughout all the uncertainty and questions (many of which remain unanswered), most of us started panicking as our livelihoods were put on indefinite hiatus. As I write this, I still have no idea when I’ll be able to go back on tour — my main source of income — and I have been brainstorming with friends who work in the service industry, entertainment, and other businesses deeply affected by this halt of life as we know it.

Tillman’s fiancé, Laura Hauser, inspired Tillman to help local musicians losing gigs during the crisis. In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, she had started a project that influenced Tillmann’s coloring book concept. If you emailed her a receipt for buying merchandise or music from a Twin Cities artist, she would send you a hand-drawn thank you card featuring that artist. 

“It was a sweet, helpful gesture that proved VERY popular,” says Tillmann. “She couldn’t keep up with the demand, and we started brainstorming ways to accomplish this work on a larger scale. As we were on one of our first walks through the neighborhood since socially isolating, we thought of creating a coloring book that could be sold online to benefit people who are currently out of work.  It would also serve as much-needed entertainment for people newly working from home with kids to watch.  Coloring Books for a Cause was born.

First Avenue, one of Tillmann’s favorite local concert promoters, had set up the Twin Cities Music Community Trust to help their staff and local musicians who were out of work.

“It was a no-brainer that this would be our first benefit charity because First Avenue also owns and operates multiple amazing venues in the Twin Cities (Turf Club, Palace Theater, Fitzgerald Theater, Fine Line, etc) that employ many of our friends,” says Tillmann. “We mapped out a coloring book that includes illustrations of staple First Avenue artists from throughout the history of the venue. Once we got our list together, we reached out to two of our favorite local artists — Michael Gaughan and Stacey Combs (Stace of Spades) — to see if they’d collaborate.  We were thrilled that they graciously said yes, and we hit the ground running with the three of them drawing the entire book’s contents in three days while I took on the production tasks of a new publisher.  We couldn’t believe that our dream team came together without a hitch.”

Tillmann says the idea “came fast with a lot of heat.”

“We hope that, if this project becomes a success, we can make more coloring books to benefit many others while keeping you entertained during these uncertain times,” he says. “Thank you for helping us with our mission, and please visit the websites we have provided for Twin Cities Music Community Trust, our illustrators, the artists drawn within these pages/their web stores, and some extra charities they’d like to highlight for information on how you can help more.”


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].