Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?
I like to think it wasn’t much of a choice but rather an obvious path. I was the kind of child that was always drawing instead of paying attention to classes in school. I never imagined myself doing anything else!
Did you attend art school or undertake any other formal artistic training?
Yes! I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Illustration from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Art school was a great way to experiment with different things, learn the fundamentals and also meet people in the community. Even though you don’t need a degree to have a career in art, I highly recommend it for the experience.
Who or what have been some of your major artistic influences?
This is a hard question because there are just so many but I think my biggest influence is animation movies. Some of the animations that inspired me the most are “The Dark Crystal” and “Princess Mononoke”. I have also always loved the look of stop motion animation movies like “Coraline” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox”!
Which books from your own childhood really stand out?
My favorite memories are from the highly interactive books. As I child I loved being able to just sit down and look at the pages of “Where’s Waldo?” for hours. Another highlight is the “Maisy Mouse” books, especially the ones with pop up pages!
Do you keep a sketch book?
Yes! I see keeping a sketchbook as a great way to experiment in a very low stakes environment. I especially like having my sketchbook around when I’m away from home or traveling so I can sketch down new ideas as they come.
How many times do you tend to draw a character until you are happy with it?
This one really depends. Sometimes a character will be full of life from the first sketch. Sometimes it takes many sketches to make them come to life.
Talk us through the process of creating one of your latest illustrations or books.
My process is very methodic and rarely changes. I start with exploration sketches to get to know the characters and story. Once I know the direction I want to go with, I move on to experimenting with colors and mood. After all the actual drawing part is done I experiment with textures and editing.
Outline your dream project.
My dream project would be a project that involved both children’s books and toys at the same time! I would love to be able to design something like a board game or a plush toy based on my book illustrations.
What advice would you offer someone just starting out as a children’s illustrator?
Always listen to your inner child. Do the projects you would’ve enjoyed as a child instead of the ones you appreciate as an adult.
How important is it for you to be part of a creative community of people?
Community is a huge part of having an art career. We aren’t surrounded by coworkers like most jobs so it’s important to be aware of what our peers are doing and finding different ways of getting support and feedback. That’s why I love that aspect of social media!
What are some of your favourite subjects to draw?
My favorite things to draw are the things that bring a smile to my face when they’re finished. Cute characters, beautiful landscapes and fun heartwarming moments are amongst my favorites.