We had the opportunity to interview children’s book author Luisa Uribe, who has illustrated many books for children, including Your Name Is a Song (Innovation Press), Areli Is a Dreamer (Random House), and Dear Earth.From Your Friends in Room 5 (HarperCollins). In 2018, her work on The Vast Wonder of the World (Millbrook) received the Society of Illustrators Dilys Evans Founder’s Award. Luisa lives in Bogotá , Colombia, where she enjoys drawing, reading, and chasing her cat around the house.

How did you become a children’s book illustrator?

I’ve always loved books! When I graduated high school there was no bachelor’s degree in illustration available locally, and I didn’t really realize it could be an option as a career so I went into graphic design; while in college I learned about the vast field of illustration and fell in love with it. After that I spent a few years working as a designer and drawing on the side, and published a couple of children’s books here in Colombia, but things really picked up when the Bright Agency found me and I started working on books for the US market.

Illustration by Luisa Uribe from Building an Orchestra of Hope

Have you always loved to draw?

Yes, it’s how I understand and relate to the world. Ever since I can remember I’ve loved drawing and reading, and picture books seem like the pinnacle of these two things combined. 

What makes you most passionate about this job?

This job is my calling. I might not be the best or most brilliant illustrator working today, but I love the unique way in which picture books take our need for communication and story and representation and mix them into something new and wonderful each time. I feel like just having this job is an immense privilege, and I’m thankful for it.

What’s a typical workday like?

A bit messy to be honest… In the morning I take time to organize and do various tasks. It’s easier for me to focus after lunch so I mostly sketch and paint in the afternoons and evenings. Since what I have to do depends on what stage of a book I’m at, sometimes most of the day goes by researching and collecting images and information related to the story/subject, and sometimes it’s drawing, coloring, or fixing and finishing details before printing. There’s usually a break for tea and dinner in there somewhere too, and feeding the cats is always a priority. 

Did you always wanted to be a children’s book illustrator?

Ever since I knew it could be an option yes, but at the beginning it seemed more like a dream than something actually achievable. I still don’t quite believe this is what I get to do for a living.

Illustration by Luisa Uribe from Building an Orchestra of Hope

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t get discouraged by what other people think and say. It will take time away that can better be spent making art and enjoying it.

When you are not drawing, what do you do to relax?

I don’t know if I’m ever really relaxed, but I like to play video games, read, and watch tv. I also like to go with my partner on his fishing trips to get some sun and be out in nature once in a while.

Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?

I love sweets and baked goods. I really enjoy baking and making sweet things even though I’m not that great at it, and it’s always nice when they turn out good enough to share.