June 2021 Featured Illustrator
Rob Peters grew up in Nebraska until he was 11 when his family moved to Kansas. Other than 4 years in the Chicago suburbs for college, he has lived in Kansas ever since. He attended Judson College in Elgin, Illinois and has a degree in Visual Communications. After college, Rob worked for Jostens Yearbooks before leaving the corporate world to be a freelance artist. As a freelancer, he has designed logos, book covers, and (of course) illustrated children’s picture books. He has worked with a number of self-published authors and small publishers including Ascend Books in Overland Park. For Ascend, he has illustrated a dozen picture books including Hark! It’s Harold the Angel written by Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove and licensed sport books for the Kansas City Chiefs, KU Jayhawks, and others. He lives with his wife Janie and four kids in Topeka,KS.
How did you get started in illustration? What is your background?
I’ve been drawing something as long as I can remember. I was illustrating my own stories and comics back in elementary school and always had illustration as a career goal. I went to Judson College in the Chicago suburbs and got a degree in Visual Communications (sort of a cross between illustration and graphic design.) After graduation, I worked as an artist for Jostens Yearbooks designing covers for yearbooks. Eventually, I left Jostens and set out as a freelancer so I could focus on my illustration work.
What is your preferred medium, method of working?
I absolutely love drawing in pen and ink. Every piece begins as ink on Bristol paper. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with coloring the line art so it’s not straight black. And occasionally I’ll even erase out parts of the drawing and let the color do more of the work, but I always have that ink drawing as my initial base.
I scan the line art into Photoshop to color. I don’t like the art to look too digital, so I have scans of a variety of watercolor textures I’ll add to the background to roughen up the colors.
How did your style and technique develop?
A lot of my style comes from studying the illustrators and books I admire. Some of that has been deliberate study, but a lot has just happened to stick to me during casual reading throughout my life. For example, my mom recently gave my kids some picture books from my childhood. I was flipping through a random book which I only half remembered and was surprised to discover that walls and doors were drawn the way I usually draw walls and doors. I hadn’t seen the book in probably 30 years, but something about that piece of the art stuck with me and worked it’s way into my style.
What do you find the most challenging in your work?
A lot of the projects I’m hired to do have really tight deadlines and I have to balance what absolutely needs to be in the illustrations and what flourishes I’d like to add. I don’t have the time to do everything I’d like, so I need to find the compromise there.
What would be your dream project? Or what was your favorite project?
I would love to write as well as illustrate a book. In my spare time, I’ve been working on an idea about robots that I would love to sell.
Do you have a favorite book(s) from your childhood?
I read and loved a ton of books as a child. I loved Richard Scarry, Little Golden Books, the Berenstain Bears, and Dr. Seuss – I have a special affection for The Butter Battle Book.
Do you have an agent? If not, are you looking for one?
No, I don’t have an agent, but I would love to sign with one.
Do you have any art supply-type tips you can share with us? Paint, paper or software that you love, a favorite art store or website to buy supplies or a new product that you’ve tried, etc.?
My art supplies are pretty basic. I do my preliminary sketches in blue pencil and ink over those. (I can easily pull out the blue in Photoshop and I don’t have to worry about erasing pencil lines.) I love buying new pens, but I use the .7 Rapidograph pen for most of my line work. And I have a Pentel Brush Pen for thicker lines and filling in black places. Sometimes I use white gel pens to add in detail over the black.
Any words of advice for those just starting out in illustration? What do you wish you would have known sooner in your author/illustrator career?
Make time to draw for yourself, especially when you’ve got a paying project and a tight deadline. A few years back, I had a period of back-to-back work for hire projects for months on end. When I sat back and looked over my output from that period, I realized that I had done nothing that was “mine.” Nothing that reflected my personal style or interests. So I made it a habit of drawing something, usually just a small ink drawing, every weekday.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming book releases we should be on the lookout for?
I’m working on a book called Game Maker about the life of James Naismith and the invention of basketball. It’s written by Brian Hanni and will be published by Ascend Books. It should be out sometime in the Fall.
To learn more about Rob, visit rob-peters.com
Previous Featured Illustrators
Blayne Fox has illustrated books for Scholastic Publishing, Brown Books Publishing, Double Ink Publishing, and Benchmark Publishing, as well as several self-published authors. Blayne currently lives in St. Louis with her partner and three cats. blaynefox.com
Elizabeth Baddeley is the New York Times Best selling illustrator of I DISSENT: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes her Mark. She resides in a historic neighborhood in Kansas City with her husband and young son. ebaddeley.com
Lois Bradley is an author, graphic designer and visual artist working in acrylics, watercolor, pen/ink and mixed media. She served as ARA for the New Mexico chapter of SCBWI from 2008 through 2012. She now lives in Kansas City, MO. www.loisbradley.com
Phyllis Harris is an author/illustrator who has illustrated over 35 children’s books. Her debut book as an author/illustrator, GIFT SHOP BEAR is scheduled for publication on Oct. 5, 2021. She lives in Kansas City, MO with her husband and pup, Brinkley. phyllisharris.com
Il Sung Na is an author/illustrator and illustration teacher. He lives with his wife and small dog in Kansas City, MO. ilsungna.com
Heather Bell is a picture book author and illustrator. When she’s not illustrating or writing, Heather searches out story ideas as an undercover school bus driver. heatherbellbooks.com
Sandra Ure Giffin is an author and illustrator. Her creative work depicts our relationships with each other and our planet. She lives in St. Louis, MO. instagram.com/sandraugriffin
Wendy Leach is a picture book author and illustrator. She lives and works in Overland Park, KS. artofwendyleach.com
John Hare is a picture book author and illustrator. His latest book FIELD TRIP TO THE OCEAN DEEP comes out Sept. 8, 2020. He lives in Gladstone, MO with his wife and two boys. john-hare.squarespace.com
Daniel Miyares is a picture book author and illustrator. Some of his books include FLOAT, NIGHT OUT, THAT IS MY DREAM and BRING ME A ROCK! He currently lives in Lenexa, KS with his wife, their two wonderful children, and a dog named Violet. danielmiyares.com
Violet Lemay has illustrated nearly 40 books for children, several of which she also wrote. Her husband’s job as a PGA teaching pro has taken her family all over the world. Her family lives in the St. Louis area, so Missouri is Violet’s home base. violetlemay.com
Morgan Hutcherson is an illustrator, graphic designer, and author. Morgan is currently enjoying first-time-homeownership in Maplewood, Missouri with her rescue Corgi Scout, and her long-time boyfriend, Rutger. morganhutcherson.com
Dayne Sislen has enjoyed a career as an art director and an instructor in Design Graphics and Illustration at Maryville University. After retirement, she reinvented herself as a children’s book illustrator. Dayne lives in St. Louis with her husband Don and their wee Scottish Terrier, Ghillis. daynesislen.com
Stephen T. Johnson is an author and illustrator of many children’s books, including ALPHABET CITY, a Caldecott Honor and a New York Times Best Illustrated book of the year. Look for his upcoming book MUSIC IS, which is slated to be published in the fall of 2020. stephentjohnson.com
Heather Hatch is a writer and illustrator. She teaches art classes and volunteers on the board of her local art museum. She lives with her family on an Ozark, Missouri farm with a Big Red Barn and a chicken-coop-turned art studio.
K.L.B. Barsotti (Kate) is a writer and artist specializing in illustration for children, special commissions, fiction (middle grade and below), and poetry. Kate lives in downtown Kansas City, Missouri with three cats, a bundle of rats, her husband and father. snawfus-tracks.com
Jeanne Conway has written and illustrated many children’s picture books. She has also been an art teacher in elementary and secondary schools. Jeanne lives in St. Louis, Missouri. jeanniespaintings.com
Polly Alice McCann is an author-illustrator, critical writing professor and managing editor of Flying Ketchup Press. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri. pollymccann.com
Joe Mohr is the author/Illustrator of ROBOT+BIKE=KITTEN: 34 OF JOEM’s POEMS. He is also a cartoonist, dad, hubby and bicycle lover. Joe lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife and three kids. joemohr.com
Daniel Wiseman is the Illustrator of over 16 children’s books. Daniel also hosts a podcast with his friend Rob Bennet called REMOTE with Rob & Dan about working remotely. He lives with his wife and two sons in Knoxville, Tennessee. danieldraws.com
Lisa Harkrader is the author of many children’s books, including the award-winning middle grade books AIRBALL: MY LIFE IN BRIEFS and THE ADVENTURES OF BEANBOY. She lives with her family in Kansas. ldharkrader.com
Lynn Alpert is a writer, illustrator and graphic designer. She can usually be found reading, writing or drawing in St. Louis, Missouri, where she lives with her husband. lynnalpert.com
Kathy L. Perry is an author, illustrator, speaker and publisher at Chicadee Words. A former elementary teacher, Kathy still wants to make a positive impact in today’s youth. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri. kathyjperry.com
Ed Koehler is an illustrator living in St. Louis and working nationwide, primarily for the Christian publishing market, creating art for children’s books, curriculum, activity books, and a variety of kid-friendly products. edkoehler.com
Kim Wilson is an illustrator, designer, artist and writer. She runs the Dittmer ArtBarn, which offers year-round art classes for children and adults. Kim lives just outside of St. Louis in Dittmer, Missouri. kimwilsonillustration.com
Karen B. Jones’ illustration work has been featured in magazines, books, and the educational market. She lives in living in Olathe, Kansas with her husband and two daughters. karenbjones.com
Brad Sneed has illustrated more than twenty picture books. He enjoys visiting schools to talk with students about illustrating picture books. Brad lives near Kansas City with his wife and daughter. bradsneed.com
Maja Andersen creates illustrations for greeting cards, apparel, gifts, home decor, memory keeping albums and books. She lives in the Kansas City area. majaandersen.com
Deborah Zemke has written and/or illustrated more than fifty books for younger readers. These include picture books, chapter books, drawing books, early readers, and humor books. She lives in Columbia, Missouri. deborahzemke.com