Leonardo Quiles

Digital

Leonardo Quiles is an author, illustrator, and educator. His career in computer generated visual effects for feature film and advertising laid the groundwork for his interest in sequential narrative. Visual storytelling inspires his interest in developing original content for children’s graphic novels, as well as animation, editorial illustration, and other comics work. 

Leo studied Illustration at Parsons School of Design and holds a BA is Art History from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and an MFA in Illustration from the University of Hartford. He is an elementary school Visual Arts teacher working and living in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts with his wife, their two children, and their puppy Roxy.

Leo is the recipient of the 2021 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship with author/illustrator Mike Curato, Flamer, Henry Holt, 2021.

What was your favorite book as a child?

My favorite book as a child was “Where the Wild Things Are”. I remember wanting to draw like Maurice Sendak, even as a child. I would copy his characters, sometimes tracing them. I especially liked the griffin character from the Wild Rumpus scene. I imagine there is still an element of Sendak’s work influencing my own work today.

Visit Leo at:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT LEO

Location:

Art Process:

I keep a sketchbook and I draw regularly. My design process always begins with drawing. My solution is found somewhere between my head and my hand. As I am cognitively working out the design problem, I am also visually problem solving on paper. Once I have a sketch I’m happy with, I’ll bring it into Procreate to clean-up, to finalize the composition and to set the scale for the final artwork. The sketch is then printed onto a heavy stock paper, like watercolor or vellum. If the final work is a comics page, I’ll ink the line work traditionally with steel nibs and paint watercolor for the fills. If the work is a more traditional illustration, I’ll paint the final steps in gouache.

Mediums:

Awards and honors:

2021 We Need Diverse Books Mentorship Award with author/illustrator Mike Curato, Flamer, Henry Holt, 2021.  

2021 Practice Kindness, pencil, ink, watercolor on paper. Norman Rockwell Museum – permanent collection. 

2019 Charmed, porcelain. 20-year anniversary show for Sienna Patti Contemporary, Lenox, MA. Museum of Fine Arts Boston – permanent collection.

2018  Murray Tinkelman Award for Excellence in Illustration.

Available for School Visits:

I am an elementary school visual arts teacher. In many ways, I feel as though I do a school visit every day! 

For author visits, I read a passage from my graphic novel, HOME, then lead an activity where we create a “mini-zine” with 8.5×11’ paper and pens. I can also work with students to create a folded paper sculpture of a traditional folk mask, a vejigante, that they can color, cut, fold, glue and wear. 


Claudia Rueda

Digital

Claudia Rueda is a Colombian picture book author, New York Times Best Seller illustrator and a 2016 Hans Christian Andersen award nominee. Her books have been published throughout North America, Europe and Asia and have been translated into thirteen different languages. She’s the author of Bunny Slopes (Chronicle), a New York Public Library and Junior Library Guild Selection and the illustrator of Here Comes the Easter Bunny (Dial), a Kirkus Best Book of the year and a Goodreads Choice Award.

Claudia went to Law and Art school and worked as a political cartoonist in Colombia and then studied Children’s Book Illustration at UC Berkeley. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and she’s the 2009 recipient of the Billie M.Levy research grant awarded by the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I didn’t have access to many children’s books as a child. But I remember going again and again through the Andersen, Grimm and Oscar Wilde illustrated collection we had at home. I remember every simple picture from those books.

What do you love to do for fun?

Hiking, biking, traveling, reading, walking, cooking, bookstores, swimming, visiting markets, eating ice cream and laughing with my daughters.

Mediums:

Art Process:

I normally start by doodling, writing notes, and drawing rough sketches. I use a light color pencil for the first lines, then go over them with a 2B pencil. I find it intimidating to start with expensive paper or with an unerasable line. I’d rather allow myself to make mistakes.

The next step is to create a storyboard, and from there, a rough dummy of the book. Once the visual narrative seems to be working, I work on the appearance of the characters and then the sketches for the final art. After a few months I experiment with different media until I find the one that fits the story.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT CLAUDIA

Specialties:

Awards and honors:

Junior Library Guild Selection

NYPL Best Books for Kids Selection

Hans Christian Andersen Award Nomination

Astrid Lindgren Award Nomination

Kirkus Best Books Selection

Goodreads Choice Awards

New York Times Bestseller

Bank Street College Best Children’s Books

Amazon Little Bookworms Selection

Parents Magazine Best Children’s Book

​​CCBC choice selection

Oppenheim Platinum Award

IBBY Honor List Nomination

Available for School Visits:

I do library visits, both for children and librarians. For children, I do storytime, make some drawing samples and answer questions. For Adults, I talk or give a workshop on picture book creation.

Location:

Published books:

AS WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR
-Redlocks and the Three Bears ·2021· Chronicle Books (coming in November)
-Bunny Overboard· 2020· Chronicle Books
-Hungry Bunny · 2018· Chronicle Books
-Bunny Slopes · 2016 · Chronicle Books
-Is it Big or is it Little? · 2013 · Eerdmans
-Huff & Puff · 2012 · Abrams Books
-No · 2010 · Groundwood
-My Little Polar Bear · 2009 · USA· Scholastic Press
-Let’s Play in the Forest While the Wolf Is Not Around · 2006 · USA· Scholastic Press

AS ILLUSTRATOR
-Here Comes Teacher Cat · Text by Deborah Underwood · 2017 · Dial Penguin
-Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat · Text by Deborah Underwood · 2015 · Dial Penguin
-Here Comes Valentine Cat · Text by Deborah Underwood · 2015 · Dial Penguin
-Here Comes The Easter Cat · Text by Deborah Underwood · 2014 · Dial Penguin
-Here Comes Santa Cat · Text by Deborah Underwood · 2014 · Dial Penguin
-Nacho and Lolita · Text by Pam Muñoz · 2005 · Scholastic Press

Visit Claudia at:


Turtleboat

Digital

Turtleboat is a comic book artist and illustrator based in NYC. He works primarily with pen and ink, and colors either digitally or with watercolor. His clients include Okayplayer.com, Random House, and VOX Media. 

In his free time he watches highlights of PRIDE FC and K1 Championships, or collects reference photos from Pinterest and photo books. He also has a grey cat named Kato.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Favorite comic book growing up was definitely Dragon Ball by Akira Toriyama.

What is your favorite food?

Favorite food is Korean braised beef stew made by my mom.

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT TURTLEBOAT

Art Process:

I start off with loose pencil sketches. After that, I spend a good chunk of time finding the correct reference materials. If I can’t find them, I pose for them myself (LOL).

Once the pencils are roughly in place, I utilize a lightbox to ink with a combination of nib pen, microns and brush. I scan the finished inks, and decide to either color traditionally with watercolor, or digitally with Photoshop. Once the back and neck aches start creeping in, I step away and stretch or workout a little bit. Then, back to the drawing!

Published books:

Awkwafina’s NYC 2015 – illustrator, sketch
Pankronicles: Early History of MMA – illustrator for Youtube series under Bloody Elbow, VOX Media

Mediums:

Location:

Visit Turtleboat at:

Available for School Visits:

I’ve spoken at a panel for comics creators at the Queens Book Festival, as well as at a program for high school students at the New School. I enjoy presenting about the craft of comics

Awards and honors:

Silent Manga Audition, Coamix – SMA5, Award Nominee
Silent Manga Audition – SMA4, Award Nominee


Rae Crawford

Digital

Rae Crawford is an illustrator, author, and comic artist from the most mysterious regions of the Chicagoland suburbs. She is the creator of the webcomic, I’m Broken, Send Help. When she graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Communication Design, she became a designer by day and an illustrator by night. She loves cartoons, comics, puns, cooking and working on fanzines. Rae currently lives in NYC with her partner, her iPad and a few assorted stuffed animals and plants.

Where do I go for inspiration?

When I’m feeling low on inspiration, I love to watch animated cartoons and movies of all genres and varieties. I browse Instagram where I follow amazing artists and creatives who are always doing something new and exciting. Sometimes, I’ll grab graphic novels from my bookshelf and spend all day soaking in them. But one of my favorite ways to get inspired is to converse with people I find really interesting and insightful. I believe your own perspective can only take you so far.

What is your favorite food?

“There is no aspect, no facet, no moment of life that can’t be improved with pizza.” – Daria

My favorite topping combos are pepperoni & mushroom and just sausage. Fruit does not belong on pizza. Looking at you, pineapples. I have lived in both Chicago and New York. Vito & Nick’s Pizzeria in Chicago has the best thin-crust pizza I’ve ever tasted. But I have a lot of love for my local NY joint. My preference is thin-crust but don’t sleep on the deep dish from Pequod’s (Chicago). I’d prefer my local joint to any fast food place but if necessary, give me Domino’s. Query me for additional pizza-related opinions, quotes and recommendations.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT RAE

Art Process:

Before anything else, I break the project up in a to-do list and set goals. I invest as much time, love and care into brainstorming, outlining, and conceptualizing as I can because it is the foundation of the rest of the project. I usually conceptualize ideas with my laptop, ipad, sketchbook and notepad on hand because I never know where my ideas will be best articulated. I usually draw thumbnails and write dialogue side by side. Once the groundwork is solid, I begin sketching.

Sometimes I start on paper but more likely, I will start in Procreate. My sketches start pretty rough but it helps me plan out composition and iron out my thoughts with visuals. Then I do a couple rounds of refining my sketch until I’m happy with how the elements are harmonizing. The sketches I deliver are typically a solid reflection of the final product. Once I get approval, I do a final inking stage and then I spend a day or two agonizing over the color and texture. I work almost exclusively in Procreate now but I will export my finals into photoshop to adjust colors. As a designer myself, if I’m not delivering flat images, I will go in and label my layers accordingly.

Awards and honors:

Adobe Design Achievement & MAX Awards (2014, 2017)


Rivkah LaFille

Digital

Rivkah LaFille (pronounced “lah-fee”) is a children’s illustrator, writer, designer and graphic novelist living in Austin, TX. Her graphic novel series, Steady Beat, was nominated to the American Library Association’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens list. She was nominated as a Lulu of the Year by Friends of Lulu for her work in promoting women in comics, and she won the Austin SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Award, presided over by Caldecott winner and New York Times bestselling author, Dan Santat.

In the early 2000s, she was the publisher and art director of a small literary publishing house, Rabid Press. Her “eureka!” moment happened when one day she woke up and realized she was going to make comics for the rest of her life instead. She did. She does. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Currently, she is illustrating a graphic novel with First Second, another with Candlewick, teaching comics-making classes, and making magic!

What was your favorite book as a child?

Miss Rumphius is STILL one of my favorites. It’s all about leaving the world a better place than we found it, which is basically my life motto.

What do you love to do for fun?

Gardening is my Happy Place. There is something so satisfying in taking care of a plant from seed, watering it, tending it, and watching it turn into a fruit or vegetable that you can eat. But watching the cycles of nature reminds me of the cycles within my own life: that even as the world grows and blooms and dies, new life is born out of it once again.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT RIVKAH

Art Process:

My art process is a balance between logical problem-solving and creative intuition. I begin by thinking about the project as a whole: what is the tone, the technique, the style that would best suit this project? What is its age range? What’s the timeline? Every project has different demands, and before I start drawing, I think of what those demands are and how to answer them.

The rest, however, is largely a matter of doing and refining. Whether I’m creating fast and loose storyboards or finely detailed picture books, working in digital or analog mediums, the end result is an editorial style that refines itself with every step until it becomes exactly what the project needs: something that speaks loudly and clearly to my audience!

Published books:

STEADY BEAT v1 – Tokyopop – 2005 (YA LGBTQ+ graphic novel)
STEADY BEAT v2 – Tokyopop – 2007 (YA LGBTQ+ graphic novel)
MANGAKA AMERICA – HarperCollins – 2007 (tutorial book)
CREATIVE WRITING WITH MISS MARY MAC – First Second – date TBD (nonfiction graphic novel)

Location:

Visit Rivkah at:

Available for School Visits:

I love talking to (and with) students! My talks range from discussing my comics-making process to more inspirational-type discussions about finding your path in life and how to not be afraid of making mistakes…and to learn and grown from them! I specialize in talking to teens and tweens, but also adults wanting to make graphic novels for ages babies to teens.

Awards and honors:

Nominated to the YALSA GREAT GRAPHIC NOVELS for TEENS List in 2007
Friends of Lulu Award 2007 – Nominee
Winner of the 2019 SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Award (and runner up previous two years) presided over by Caldecott Winner Dan Santat


Joshua Smeaton

Digital

Joshua Smeaton was born on his birthday.

When he was a teenager, Josh jabbed a friend in the finger with a Rapid-O-Graph pen. The friend still has the single dot permanently etched on his skin. Josh is still waiting to hear from top ink recruiters in the tattoo industry.

Josh’s parents required him to become an Eagle Scout before he could get his driver’s license. He got his license the day he turned sixteen and was shortly after pulled over by the police for looking too young to drive. Josh then nearly caused an accident pulling back onto the road.

Josh won a Xeric award once. That was a good day. The Xeric grant was created by Peter Laird, one of the guys who created The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Josh’s favorite ninja turtle is Donatello. He used to own a first printing of issue 4 of the original comic book series. 

Bill Murray once ate Josh’s French fries at an In-N-Out Burger. They talked about music and driving across the country. They have not kept in touch.

Josh wanted to name his son Taylor Rex so he could call him T-Rex for short. His wife vetoed this.

What was your favorite book as a child?

I loved The Great Brain series of books by John D. Fitzgerald. In 7th grade, I won a contest to turn your favorite book into a poster using The Great Brain.

Favorite Comic Book, hands down, was Sergio Aragonés’ Groo The Wanderer. It was my biggest influence in wanting to draw comics. 

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate chip cookies.

Mediums:

Published books:

Haunted – Self published 2009

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JOSHUA

Art Process:

I’ll do some sketching/doodling in my sketchbook or cheap spiral notebooks. (I have tons.) Mostly just loose unfinished things in pencil or ballpoint pen. I use my good friends Google and Pinterest to find reference or inspiration on the subject. I’ll grab a bunch of images and put them all in a program called Pure Ref. It allows me to view all the images in one place, zooming in or out. 

For the final work, I draw on my computer with my tablet. I primarily draw in Clip Studio Paint. Sometimes I’ll color in CSP but more often I still use Photoshop. 

Specialties:

Location:

Visit Joshua at:

Available for School Visits:

Make Your Own Graphic Novel

I show slides of my own process, from how I get my ideas and the steps of developing them, to how I turn pictures into words and ultimately, a finished graphic novel or comic book. We’ll then segue into creating, where I do live sketching and the students will follow along creating and drawing their own ideas. 

Awards and honors:

Xeric.


Chelsea Carr

Digital

Chelsea Carr is a cartoonist who lives and works in Street, Maryland. Her work has appeared in MAD Magazine, HuffPost Parents, and on Disney’s parenting website, Babble. For the past 16 years, she has been the editorial cartoonist for two of her local papers, The Aegis and The Record. Chelsea is an art teacher, and has worked with students from preschool through fifth grade. She is a graduate of The Maryland Institute, College of Art (BFA) and Johns Hopkins University (MAT.)

In addition to cartooning, Chelsea enjoys spending time with her family, gardening and taking on an assortment of increasingly ridiculous hobbies.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is steamed crabs, which is probably a very boring answer for a Marylander, but it’s true. I try to get steamed crabs with my friends every year on my birthday.

What cool travel spots would you most highly recommend?

I really enjoy traveling. My favorite place I’ve been internationally is probably either Japan or New Zealand. Locally, my family tries to visit Chincoteague Island, VA every year. It’s a small island on the east coast that has a beach and a population of wild ponies. 

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT CHELSEA

Art Process:

I start each project by staring off into space and trying to come up with an idea. When I think I have something good, I make a note in my phone’s Notes app. If you ever found my phone and looked at the Notes app, you would probably be very worried about me because it’s basically a nonsensical list of things that made sense to me at some point in my life.

Next, I take my notes and expand them into something that makes sense for anyone who might come across them. Usually this involves sitting in front of a computer and typing out a script. When I’ve finished a script and paginated it (if necessary) I go onto the drawing stage.

When I draw, I start with thumbnails so I can get an idea for the length of the project, page turns, etc. I usually do this in a sketchbook, and when I’m happy with the thumbnails I work on the iPad for the completed piece.

On the iPad, I start by making a rough sketch of what I did for my thumbnails, and then I refine it in a new layer, and finally I color it. 

Location:

Visit Chelsea at:

Available for School Visits:

I am a certified teacher in the state of Maryland, and I love to share my work with children. For a school or library visit, I do a short presentation on my work, and then conduct a workshop with students on writing their own comic. I tie these workshops into either ELA Common Core standards or the National Core Art Standards.

One thing that is particularly important to me is making sure less-privileged schools have access to special programs. If I were invited in for a school visit, I would also do the same program at a nearby Title 1 school for free. 

Awards and honors:

Chelsea has won several awards for her editorial cartoons from the MDDC Press Association.

In 2018, Scholastic invited her to NYC to help judge the Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoons.


Eva Cabrera

Digital

Latina comic artist, Will Eisner and GLAAD Award nominee, Eva Abrera is the co-founder of Mexican studio BoudikaComics. She was born in Veracruz, Mexico, but most of the time she likes to travel and see other places. She is a lover of animals, magic and nature. In her free time she likes to read books and play video games.

Since she was little, she has been fascinated by telling stories through drawing. Little by little, she has developed her work as a female comics artist, and it’s become very important for her to be a representative of the creative women in Mexico.

She drew the Betty & Veronica series: Archie Comics’ Vixens, Black Mask Studio’s “Kim & Kim”, and has worked with publishers such as TopCow, ComiXology Originals, etc. She has done covers for BOOM Studios’ Adventure Time comics.

She makes videos on Youtube where she shares her experiences as a creator. You can find her on all her social networks as @evacabrera.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Alice in Wonderland. I loved the idea of traveling to a crazy and psychedelic world.

Who or what inspires you the most, and why?

I could make a long list of people and things that inspire me — but generally, what inspires me is people who are striving to achieve their dreams and who emanate a very positive energy in the world.

Mediums:

Specialties:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT EVA

Art Process:

I always start with a sketch on paper. I like to write many ideas and sketch whatever comes to mind. Later I pick the ideas that seem most functional and start experimenting, reworking them on the computer.

When I work for publishers, I have to be faster, so I’ve started to work primarily digitally, but if I have time, I make ideas with watercolor or inks.

My priority is to deliver on the established dates, but I never neglect quality. I still feel that I have a lot to learn. That is the cool thing about my work: even with all the years that I have been a comic artist, I continue to learn and will never stop learning.

Published books:

  • Betty and Veronica: VIXENS (Archie Comics, 2016 – Present)
  • Open Earth (Oni Press, 2017)

And many others… click here for a complete bibliography.

Location:

Visit Eva at:

Available for School Visits:

I love doing readings and literary workshops for both adults and children. Spanish is my native language and I prefer doing events in Spanish.

Awards and honors:

Nominations:
GLAAD Award 2019 “Oh S#!t it’s Kim & Kim” as best “Outstanding Comic Book”
Will Eisner Award 2017 “Kim & Kim” as best “Limited Series”


Joe Latham

Digital

Joe Latham is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Bristol, UK. He cut his teeth creating custom MySpace Pages (RIP) for bands, which lead to a lot of interesting projects. From designing bespoke Golf Balls for celebrities to animating music videos for Cradle of Filth, Joe has done design work for Jilly Cooper, The Joy Formidable, Five Seconds of Summer, Uniform Dating, Ok Cupid, IndieGoGo, a number of UK Universities, Sony Music, and Warner Music, to name a few.

Joe has self-published a number of comic books and regularly exhibits at UK comic festivals. He’s planning to exhibit at other European and International festivals in the future. He loves meeting people and talking to them about his work.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Winnie the Pooh, or possibly The Giraffe, The Pelican and Me. It’s a tough call, because Roald Dahl was exciting in a way that other books have never been, but Winnie the Pooh has stayed with me forever. I used to take a collected version to my Mum’s piano lessons when I was a kid, and sit there next to a stinky gas fire with a tubby black-haired scotty dog. The dog would lay on its back getting a weird sunburn on its belly from the fire (and it would fart, all the time).

What cool travel spots would you most highly recommend?

Copenhagen, for its incredibly comfortable culture, amazing pastries (get a hot cinnamon swirl, your life will never be the same again), great coffee and beer, cool electric city bicycles, amazing museums and great food. 

I’d also recommend Berlin. It’s an amazing place, though it changes every year. It never sleeps. Seriously.

One of the happiest times of my life was driving up the West coast of the USA. We hired a car and drove from San Francisco up to Portland. It was the most free I’ve ever felt, and I hope to go back one day for longer adventures.

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT JOE

Art Process:

I like my work to feel tangible and retain a sense of the energy you get from those early drawings, so I try to make sure the final pieces are refined enough, yet expressive. It means that each stage of the process is relatively quick in order to keep some of that feeling.

Typically I draw my thumbnail sketches with a Fountain Pen, then using a smaller paper size I will draw the final piece in rough using Blue Col-erase pencils (these are used a lot by animators – they don’t smudge yet aren’t too hard, so you can be nice and expressive). I then scan this, print it faintly on to smooth finish (hot press) Watercolour paper (it has a touch more tooth than Bristol board so I find it suits my inking style better – less smudges). Then I ink over this, mostly using a Kolinsky Sable no6 brush and a pot of ink, some fine liner work in there too. Scan it, colour it using Photoshop and an array of collected brushes that I’ve picked up down the years. I have a small handful that I return to most often.


Ash Szymanik

Digital

Hi, I’m Ash! I’m a queer Los Angeles based artist who makes all sorts of neat stuff. I have a BFA in Traditional Animation from Pratt Institute, and work as a designer, illustrator, and comics artist/writer.

My art is defined by animal characters, moody colors, and a bit of dark humor. I’m drawn to slice-of-life stories with LGBTQ+ themes and am committed to making art about both the struggles and joys of LGBTQ+ youth.

What is your favorite food?

Anything that is a pasta or a dumpling. Just as long as it doesn’t have mushrooms in it.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love collecting manga/comics, watching movies, discovering little-known indie video games, and cooking.

Mediums:

GET IN TOUCH ABOUT ASH

Art Process:

I’m a digital artist who does most of their work in Procreate! However, I have a little journal/sketchbook where I scribble down my ideas and doodles of concepts. If I’m experiencing art block, I like to skim through it and mine for ideas!

When I illustrate, I tend to make a very rough sketch to map out the drawing, and once the sketch is legible enough for me, I start inking. I try not to be too perfectionist when doing the lineart, especially since I love a bit of a wobbly line and texture. Then I start coloring. I love picking colors and settling on a palette. After editing, I’m all done!