A couple of days ago we stumbled upon Rhett J. Reeves and his Instagram account @rhett_reeves. Every day, he is drawing a lunchbox note for his son Caleb. We really loved his story, so we thought he is the perfect first interview for our blog in 2013!

You started to draw every day a lunchbox note for your son. How did you come up with the idea?

When I was in grade school, my father used to draw lunchbox notes for me. Usually, they were a pair of Chinese stick figures that offered Chinese proverbs and other words of wisdom. When my son Caleb had special events at school such as holidays and milestones I would sometimes draw something for him. The things I drew were a little more complex than what my father did, so I didn’t do them as often. My father passed away last April and he and Caleb were very close. So, for Caleb’s first day of school, I made a note for him as a way to honor my dad. Caleb came home excited about the note and told me he couldn’t wait to see the note he was getting the next day. After he said that, there was no way I could let him down by not making a note for him.

How has your son reacted to his lunchbox notes? Are his classmates jealous?

Caleb is very responsive to the notes I leave for him. In fact, he looks so forward to them, he will drop hints as to what kind of character he would like to see me draw for him. It turns out that this is very beneficial to me because sometimes I do get stumped and do not know what to draw. He likes the attention he gets from his classmates when he sees his notes. Some of them are also excited to see what his note will be that day. In fact, last week, one classmate offered him $5 for one of his notes. Thankfully, Caleb declined the offer and returned home with the note. I am saving all of his notes and at the end of the school year, I am having them printed in a book as a momento.

I do not believe his classmates are jealous because of the notes he gets. On the contrary, some share his excitement for the notes and that is a true testament of their friendship.

Why did you start posting your sketches on Instagram?

I started posting my artwork on Instagram so I could share it with my friends and family. Originally, my account was private, but once I made it public, I began getting really nice feedback. The positive reinforcement that I have always tried to implement while raising Caleb was now being used on me! Seeing so many people enjoy and look forward to my next posting really keeps me motivated to continue creating art. My favorite part of what Caleb’s lunchbox notes has turned into is that it is inspiring Caleb to create art of his own. There are a couple of paintings that he has done that I have posted on my account as well. I am very proud of him!

How do you choose the character on the lunchbox notes? Are these favorites of your son?

There is really no rhyme or reason as to why I choose the characters for any particular day. I try to use a character that is relevant to something he is going through, topic he is learning in class, or maybe an upcoming holiday (I drew a Christmas themed note every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks). Sometimes, I will do themes for the week of similar characters and sometimes, the character I choose is just because of something silly that happened. For example, one day after school, he was relaxing before starting his homework. I grabbed his shirt sleeves and started maneuvering his arms as if he were a marionette. I started singing, “I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio and he thought it was hilarious. That night, to celebrate the fun we had together, I drew the Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket note.

Caleb’s favorites are Garfield, Po from Kung Fu Panda, Yoda and the Ratatouille piece I did. He is also a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes. I will end up doing a few Calvin and Hobbes pieces for him since he enjoys them so much.

Your drawings look pretty professional. Tell us a little bit about your background…

The quality of the notes improved drastically once I started using my new Prismacolor markers. I really like how my art turns out when I use them.

While attending college pursuing a biology degree, I became heavily interested in computers. Specifically, graphic design. It was too late to in my college career to change majors, so I finished with biology and took some computer classes and did a great deal of teaching myself. While still in college I started designing websites for real estate agents. I always enjoyed the creative / design part much more than the coding so I began to focus on graphic design - specifically logo design and branding. Now, I do freelance graphic design. However, when I grow up, I’d like to be a professional lunchbox note maker.