Friday, July 24, 2009

Illustrator Interview - Dawn Phillips

Illustrator Interview – Dawn Phillips

Over the past several years my writing career continues to cross paths with many of the same writers and illustrators. Illustrator Dawn Phillips and I first met at The National Writing for Children Center and have continually re-connected through various social networks. Ms. Phillips is quite the talented illustrator and is expanding her talents through writing.

DMc: What inspires you as you begin a new project?

DP: Reading a story which inspires my imagination, humor, unique characters, plot with a unique twist.

DMc: Was there a person from your childhood who encouraged you to pursue your artistic talent?

DP: Several Art Instructors ranging from Elementary through College encouraged me to pursue my talent. They displayed pieces of my artwork in art galleries, encouraged me to participate in workshops with illustrators and authors, and submitted artwork to contests.

DMc: What was the best piece of advice you received when you started your career as an illustrator?

DP: Never give up, and try not to take rejections personally. Watch and learn from other illustrators as you take part in various discussion groups, and organizations.

DMc: Who are some of your favorite children's illustrators?

DP: Walt Disney, Charles M. Schulz – Peanuts.

DMc: Please describe your path to success in becoming an artist? Were there any particular obstacles that you needed to overcome?

DP: Success can only be achieved with hours of practice in several mediums and styles while maintaining your own unique style. Also, researching the environment of the story, personality of the character, and relating the story through your illustrations. I hope to have the opportunity to work with some traditional publishers in the future.

I believe you’ll always have obstacles to overcome, it’s just the matter of how big or small they may be. For instance, the vision of a character or story by an illustrator can be different to the author’s vision.

DMc: How long have you been working as a freelance artist and illustrator?

DP: Over 15 years as a Freelance Artist and 2 years as an Illustrator of Children’s Books and Magazines.

DMc: Do you have a favorite medium or style?

DP: It’s hard for me to choose just one medium or style. I enjoy working with pastels, watercolors, pencils, and black/white water color markers. Majority of my illustrations are done by computer.

DMc: How long does it take to illustrate a picture book?

DP: Average 2-3 months depending on my work load and number of sketches being requested.

DMc: Please describe the collaboration involved between you, the publisher, and the author. Now that you are embarking on a writing career, did the collaboration efforts between publishers and authors inspire you to do so?

DP: I have very little interaction with the publishers at this time. I deal directly with the author.

I’ve been working on three children’s stories with Working Writer’s Coaching Club which is a critique group with several lessons to learning the do’s and don’ts for writing children’s books and children’s magazine articles.

You’re welcome to visit my blog, Creative Eye of Dawn Phillips Children’s Book Writer in Progress at

It’s extremely difficult to become both a writer and illustrator with publishers. It’s best to get accepted as one or the other with publisher. Then pursue the other once you’ve established a relationship with the publisher.

DMc: Do you conduct school visits? If so, how is a typical visit structured?

DP: I’ve participated in PTA Book Fairs at Schools. As students arrived by classroom I would demonstrate my illustration process which consisted of sketching characters, dummy story-boards and final illustration. I was available to answer any questions and sign books.

Visit Dawn’s website at


  1. Thank you so much Donna! You've been an inspiration to me over the years.
    Best Wishes, Dawn Phillips

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  3. Great interview Donna and Dawn! :o)

    I think it's great that you did school book fairs, Dawn. In addition to meeting authors, it's great for the kids to see who creates the artwork in books, too! :o)

  4. I always envy illustrators. I guess that's because I can't do what they do, so I just drool over those luscious drawings that enhance the stories I read.

  5. Great interview and such insight into the illustrator. I love her as well, and wish her the best with her books and her career.
    Thanks for the information.

  6. I love the vivid colors in children's stories. I want my books to have that flair. Thanks for sharing.

    Kristi Bernard (posted by Donna for Kristi)


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