Sandra Ure Griffin
October 2020 Featured Illustrator
Sandra Ure Griffin grew up along Shady Creek in Webster Groves, MO. In 1974 at the age of 16, she moved to Ozone Farm, a commune near Arkansas, then moved to the Kansas City Art Institute the following year. After graduation, she helped build a log cabin near Doniphan, MO where her sons were born, as well as her first book, Earth Circles (NY: Walker, 1989). From 2004-11, Sandra lived in the Northwoods of Wisconsin as a member of the Bayfield Artists Guild. After she spent a year at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage in northern Missouri, she returned to St. Louis, where she continues to make art and create books. She has also helped thousands of St. Louis schoolchildren create their own picturebooks as a Springboard Teaching Artist.
How did you get started in illustration? What is your background?
I won a “Street Safety” poster contest as a fourth-grader and the school principal (Henry Givens, Jr.) gave me a card that said, “I can tell that you are a real artist.” I believed him! (How could I disbelieve The Principal?) I went on to graduate from the Kansas City Art Institute as a printmaking major. My love of children’s book illustration began soon after the birth of the first of my four children.
What is your preferred medium, method of working?
I have explored the bold linework of scratchboard, woodcut, and sgraffito, as well as softer images rendered with pencil, charcoal and Prismacolor pencils. Currently, I am gaining digital skills with Photoshop on my desktop and ProCreate on my IPad.
What do you find the most challenging in your work?
I still feel like such a Luddite sometimes when I spend time battling my computer, scanner, printer, Wacom tablet… downloading updates, battling glitches and wavering Bluetooth connections, arggh!
What would be your dream project? Or what was your favorite project?
I have been working off and on since 2010 on a picture book titled Enkidu and His Drum. The publication of this book will be a dream come true.
Do you have an agent?
I have had a couple of agents in past years, but currently, I’m a free woman.
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 youngest son Mason is a tattoo artist who urged me to try the iPad app ProCreate. The more I use it and grow more comfortable with its bells and whistles, the more I love it. That being said, I feel that time spent working with traditional materials is essential, as well.
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?
Immerse yourself in children’s books at the library. If you have kids or grandkids (or other children in your life) let them share in your joyous exploration.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming book releases we should be on the lookout for?
I am learning the world of self-publishing! (I am a writer/illustrator.) I use Lulu, and my new books are Bristol and Quinn, Legacy, The Seed and The Gardenchildren and Other Stories. Look for these and MORE to come!
Previous Featured Illustrators
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 Anderson 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
Phyllis Harris is the illustrator of over 35 Children’s Books. In recent years she has focused more on her writing as well as illustrating picture books. phyllisharris.com