Julie Koon

Julie Koon

Julie Koon Interview

Julie Koon

Children's Illustrator

Who or what made you want to become an illustrator?

I have always loved making art, and as a child, I experimented with many, many mediums from embroidery and sewing, to paper mache sculptures, to drawing and painting. I was always making something. This continued well into adulthood. It wasn't until I had my own children and dived deep into the world of picture books that I knew I wanted to pursue illustration. I think I loved the picture books more than they did! I started taking illustration classes and learning as much as I could about visual storytelling. I spent all of my free time developing my skills and creating with new ideas. As a school counselor I saw the importance of kids being able to see themselves and their feelings reflected on the page. Making picture books is a dream come true and I hope that I am at the beginning of a long career in illustration.

Which books from your own childhood really stand out?

My absolute favorite book as a child was The Jolly Postman. The unique format with the envelopes and letters within the book was fascinating to me. As I got older, I loved the Amelia's Notebook series, and made many a notebook with doodles on the edges, just like Amelia. My mom took us to the library every week, and we were always armed with an enormous stack of books. Picture books were a big part of my childhood. 

What piece of software or hardware could you not live without and why?

I use an ipad and apple pencil for illustrating, and I love how portable it is! I take my ipad everywhere and draw in the spare moments between dropping my kids off at piano lessons, waiting for doctor's appoitments, and take any opportunity I get to make progress on a project. It's also fantastic for drawing on the couch in the evenings while watching a movie. 

Which area of children’s publishing excites you the most?

I'm really excited about the way illustration is being used in books for older kids. I love the colorful, heavily illustrated chapter books, and the vast increase in graphic novels as well. People of all ages love book illustrations, and I'm excited to see how this area continues to expand. 

How important is it for you to be part of a creative community of people?

Being a part of the creative community is very important to me. I'm a part of two critique groups, and I couldn't do what I do without them! It's so important to have other people to run ideas by and give you feedback to imporve your work. I'm a much better illustrator because of my critique groups. I'm also a part of a local group of artists who are moms. We create with a vast array of mediums from stained glass to pottery, and meet together monthly to talk about what we are working on and the business side of art. I learn so much from them, and really value their community. 

Are there any children’s classics you’d love to illustrate and/or re-tell?

I love Alice in Wonderland, and I have always wanted to do an early chapter book re-telling of her story. The whimsy, magic, and bravery seems so perfect for that age group. I even made a fake book cover of it!

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