Children’s Book Art Direction, Design and Illustration

Illustrator Carolyn Flores's studio
Illustrator Carolyn Flores’s studio
Art Direction

What Agents, Editors and Art Directors Look for Online from Debbie Ridpath Ohi. PEEK: “77% of respondents said that when they are considering taking on a new client, author and illustrator, they always research them online.” ALSO SEE Debbie’s 2019 post, Poll Results: What Editors and Agents Look For In Social Media.

Making Art, Turtle Bravery, and Other Adventures: Joy Interviews Lucy Ruth Cummins by Joy Preble from Brazos Bookstore. PEEK: [on being an art director] “I am also much more conscious of the balance between text and art—that either one or the other or both need to communicate the story beat that’s trying to come across, that the reader shouldn’t have to make a huge leap that’s not coming through on it’s own.”

Art director Laurent Linn and illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Interview: Art Director Laurent Linn of Simon & Schuster by Gabriela Nicole Gonzalez from Cynsations.

Interview: Art Director Martha Rago of HarperCollins by Anita Loughrey from Cynsations. PEEK: “The art director should have a positive and effective relationship with the artist, gaging when and how much information will be absorbed and useful.” SEE ALSO Interview: Art Director Martha Rago of HarperCollins by Rachelle Meyer from Cynsations.

Interview: Art Director David Saylor of Scholastic by Anita Loughrey from Cynsations. PEEK: “Portfolios that are uneven are distressing, meaning that there’s a mix of good work but too much that’s not up to par. I’m not a fan of gimmicky portfolios either: let the work speak for itself.”

Interview: Art Director Cecilia Yung of Penguin by Anita Loughrey from Cynsations. PEEK: “I look at technical issues like anatomy and perspective. I look at legibility of an image to make sure that it is understandable and conveys the content and intent of the story. I look at expressions, body language, and the palette to make sure they express the emotion of the story. I look at how one scene relates to another to create a narrative.”

Interview: Associate Art Directors Tracy Shaw and Alison Impey of Little, Brown by Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. PEEK from Tracy: “…the weirdest places I’ve found inspiration would have to be either a chewing gum ad or a perfume sample label.”

Book Design

Book Design by Alvina Ling from Blue Rose Girls. PEEK: “Personally, I trust our designers and their vision, and love working with them on cover designs. In some cases, I have an idea of what I want the cover to look like, but oftentimes I’ll wait and see what the designer comes up with first so as not to taint their creativity.”

Interview: Book Designer Irene Vandervoort from Christine Kole MacLean. PEEK: “I read all of the books whether I like them or not. And I have to design some of them whether I like them or not. I think you can always learn something. Book design is a journey that gets tweaked along the way.”


How to Be a Children’s Book Illustrator: online course (with accompanying blog) from author-illustrator Mark G. Mitchell. PEEK: “Comprehensive, illustrated lessons come in PDF sessions that you can download and save. Monthly online group calls with teacher Mark G. Mitchell provide a valuable (but still fun) interactive component. Students also have 24-hour access to the Children’s Book Illustration Wiggio group site where they can chat with each other and Mark, check messages, review portfolios and share files and links.”

Illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky in his studio

Interview: Illustrator Paul O. Zelinsky on the Business Side of Children’s Book Illustration by Elisabeth Norton from Cynsations. PEEK: “My first criterion (and I’m sorry if this seems pompous) is whether the story makes me think that our overcrowded world, with no shortage of books in it already, would be notably worse off without this new addition. (Which is sort of like saying how much do I like it, but not quite).”

For Illustrators from KidLit 411. Children’s book illustration 101, tip and techniques, developing characters, making a dummy, promo postcards, pricing your work, business aspects, what editors and art directors want, inspiration, and more.

Literary Agents for Illustrators: “Author/illustrator is a creator who specializes in both writing and illustrating. Some agents are only interested in manuscripts for visual works (picture books, graphic novels) from authors who also illustrate. I’ve tried to indicate agents who are interested specifically in author/illustrators.”

Picture Book Manuscripts and Illustrations by Harold Underdown from The Purple Crayon. Q&A article covering commonly asked questions about picture book submissions. Topics include: connecting with an illustrator, illustration notes, visual references, package submissions, and authors who themselves are also professional illustrators.


10 Things I Hate About Your Web Portfolio from Editorial Anonymous. PEEK: “If you can do people, show me that. If you can’t—if your proportions are always a bit off and you can’t get a 3/4 profile right and you can’t figure out why your children just look like short adults, then for the love of mike, don’t do people.”

How to Put a Children’s Illustrator Portfolio Together from Juana Martinez Neal. PEEK: “We will be talking materials and how to best present your work for a Portfolio Show or a face-to-face Meeting. When we are done (post purchases and put-togethers) you will be walking around town with a new portfolio under your arm.”

Linear Perspective in Illustration by Mark G. Mitchell from Cynsations. PEEK: “You’re setting your point of view, where you imagine yourself as you surmise the view you’re creating on paper, where you fancy your own eyes to be while you’re standing, sitting or lying, watching your story scene. This becomes the point of view for everyone who looks at your picture.”