Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Aidana WillowRaven, children's book illustrator

ILLUSTRATOR: Aidana WillowRaven

What were you like as a kid?  Did you always like to draw?

As a child, I wasn't as stubborn as I am now.  The few times I attempted anything artistic it didn't look the way I saw it, or someone criticized it, so I'd get agitated and not try again for a long time. I focused my creativity on music and dance and left the visual arts to my three siblings.

How has your work been influenced by your childhood?

After my second divorce, because friends and family always made it clear I had no 'talent', I saw art not as a pastime, but a career decision. My love for books combined with my disdain for a bad book cover left me with an urge to correct the wrong.

When I told my family I was going back to school, they were excited until I told them my major was to be fine art, minoring in design and animation, with the goal to become a book cover artist. They were far from supportive. Even after my first few awards and sales at conventions, they were still expecting the 'phase' to end at any moment. Remember I mentioned the word stubborn?

Five hundred plus books covered and illustrated, I don't believe in the word 'talent'. I believe in hard work, training, and diligence. So I guess my work was influenced by good books, bad book covers, and people telling me I had no talent … lol.

How did you get started illustrating books?

I joined 101 yahoo groups for writers in one night. Half of them didn't want me there, but the other half did. Within a month of my mass joining, I was offered a contract to illustrate a children's book.

What were the challenges you faced with the first book you illustrated?

Primarily, inexperience. I had to learn how to follow a story line plus how to meet printers' specs. Not something taught in college. I also had to learn how not to be cheated by publishers and authors. I had to learn pricing and contract negotiations, too.

What is a typical workday for you as an illustrator?

I spend roughly 18 hours a day (days my son doesn't have karate) trolling through emails, networking for new projects, and working on existing projects.

What is your illustrating process?

It varies from book to book.

To what extent do you use a computer in your illustrating process?

A great deal.

What art supplies and tools do you use?

Computer, colored pencils, paints, markers, graphites, and charcoals.

Do you illustrate in different genres, and if so, how does the genre determine your illustration style?

I do. I try to follow traditional looks for specific genres, but I also like to push those boundaries.

Who are your favorite illustrators?

Michael Whelan was/is the book cover artist I want to be when I grow up.

Who or what has influenced your artistic style?

Again, MW.

How do you get your illustrating jobs?

Primarily Twitter.

Describe your workspace.

I have a studio with a drawing table, racks holding supplies, and shelves holding books.

How has social media helped you?

It has allowed me to work as a full-time freelance artist.

What are you working on now?

About five book covers, two layouts, one book trailer (with six illos) and two kid's books.

What plans do you have for the future?

World domination … lol.

How can we find you? Please provide your public links: Facebook, Twitter, etc.


  1. Aidana, I understand that stubbornness! I was told I couldn't, well, pretty much anything, growing up too - I never listened! I knew I was going to prove them wrong - and I have!
    Love the art, the determination, and your attitude! Congrats and good luck in all your endeavors!

  2. Great interview, ladies. I'm glad you stuck with it, Aidana.