Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 10, 2012

Illustrator Saturday – Vin Vogel

Vin Vogel is a Brazilian illustrator and aspiring children’s book writer based in New York City.

He has illustrated more than 45 books for children and young adults. He has also provided
illustration and character designs for a wide variety of print, animation, apparel and web
projects in his native country as well as in Canada, France and the USA.

His personal obsessions range from children’s books, animated cartoons and music to big cities,
nature and animals. They all manage to find their way into his imaginative and colorful works.

Here is Vin shwoing his work process for the book “Papa Pâtissier”, the first of a more to come 6 books series published in Canada by Editions de l’Isatis.

I tend to work fast and try to keep the process as simple as possible. I read the manuscript a couple of times and doodle the characters. Then, I select the ones I like best and send them to the art director.

Once the characters are chosen, I work on their final version. I like to play with the colors and the design of their clothes.

Next, I define the overall color palette for the book, as well as the environment and some other details.

I then block out the book in thumbnails (these are actually thumbnails from a different book of the series)…

… followed by a rough dummy.

I print out all the pages and put them up on my wall, so I can see how they work together as a group.

The next step is a “polished dummy”: when everything is 100% approved, I start working on the final illustrations on my computer. If I was going to work in Photoshop, each “polished sketch” would be on one layer, so I’d create a couple of other layers for color and texture, usually selecting the “Multiply” blending option. For this book though, I’ve created vector illustrations, so I simply started drawing over the “polished sketches”.

You mention France and Canada in your bio. Can you tell us about that journey: Brazil, France, Canada, USA?

Along with the dream of being a children’s book illustrator and writer, I have always wanted to be a diplomat: The idea of travelling around the world, speaking various languages (I happen to speak Portuguese, English, French and Spanish; I also understand Italian and speak some German) and discovering new cultures has always fascinated me. I have lived in these four countries, where I had the privilege to get my work published and work with some amazing people – which fulfills me and makes me feel that I’m a citizen of the world.

How long have you been illustrating?

All my life. Professionally, since 1996.

Did you go to school for art? If so, where?

I’m self-taught. I actually have a degree in journalism. I’ve always loved to write.

Why did you move to Manhattan?

Since I was a little kid, I imagined NYC being the city where anything is possible. I wanted new challenges and to evolve artistically. This is the publishing capital of the Americas. I have recently moved here with the feeling that this was the right thing to do. I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else now.

What advantages does living in Manhattan provide your career?

The energy and the passion are contagious. The cultural life is inspiring. The competition is overwhelming. All these combined pushes me to go forward and make me want to become better and better. Not to mention all the writers and illustrators’ conferences, workshops, organizations, expositions… NYC has always been a great school for artists.

Has the materials/style changed over the years?

Definitely. For a couple of years I was really into flat colors and graphic shapes. Although not so obvious, Charlie Harper has been a big inspiration for me. There is a rational and mechanistic aspect in art, either music or visual arts, that fascinates me. In the last couple of years, on the other hand, I’ve been missing the spontaneity and the more organic feeling of my original work. I don’t really like using the word “organic”, but when you compare it to vector illustration, it is a very appropriate one.

When did you illustrate your first book?

In 2004. It was a series of three children’s books for Editora Record, one of the largest publishing houses in Brazil.

How did that happen?

I called the publishing house, asked to talk to the editor responsible for children’s books and voilà! She liked my work and commissioned me to illustrate this series. We have done 15 books together, so far.

With 45 books illustrated, can you give us any idea how you worked to make that happen?

Probably because I have lived in various countries; not only this has enriched my artwork, but it also gave me the opportunity to work professionally with more people than if I had stayed in Brazil. Again, it was such a privilege to work with a diverse group of people from different cultural backgrounds.

Have you illustrated any picture book in English?

I’m working on that!

What made you decide you wanted to do children’s books?

As far as I remember, I’ve always been crazy about children’s books. I was constantly begging my mother to buy me books. When I was 7 and 9, I won two literary prizes for best story in my school. I’ve spent a good amount of my youth drawing and creating my own books and comics. I dreamed of being like Disney and Hanna-Barbera and having my characters in books, TV series, toys… In the 70’s my godmother Vera Mattos, who is also an illustrator, was selected a couple of times at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, so that was a further inspiration for me.

Do you have a favorite medium you use?

For the simple pleasure of drawing, mechanical pencil, permanent ink pen and sketchbooks are still my favorite. For everything else, my computer.

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Sometimes. Most of the time, I do research on the Internet.

Do you have any plans on writing and illustrating your own book?

Again, I’m working on this now! The idea is a series with Sherman and Nook, who happen to be my dog and my cat. I have finished the dummy and am now looking for a publisher.

Do you illustrate things other than children’s picture books?

In the last 5 years, I have almost exclusively illustrated children’s books. I occasionally do advertising illustration and develop characters for animation projects.

Do you feel that writing a story in English would be a challenge for you?

Not really. As a journalist, writing is not necessarily a problem. I guess my English is good enough to write the kind of book I’m willing to write. But of course I’ve counted on the help of a friend, as well as my critique group. Writing a book is a much more complex challenge than writing an article. A book is a work of months, sometimes years.

Are you represented by an artist rep.? Of so, who? If not, would you like to have one?

I think having an agent would be very helpful.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter?


I am assuming you used Photoshop to make the bubbles in the illustration where Papa is washing dishes. Can you explain how you made the bubbles?

All the illustrations for this 6 books series were made entirely on Illustrator. To make these bubbles, all you have to do is to make one circle, change its opacity (in this case, 30%) and copy-paste it.

Do you do art shows to help get noticed?

I have participated in some art shows organized by the Brazilian Society of Illustrators.

Do you own a graphic tablet? If so, which one and what does it bring to your artist toolbox?

I work with a large Wacom Intuos4. The fact that I no longer see my hand when I’m drawing on the tablet and that I’m able to control the line thickness gives me a different kind of artistic freedom.

Where do you do your artwork?

In my office, at home. I have four little helpers: two cats and two dogs.

Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?

I work every day for at least 10 hours. I might not be working specifically on a commissioned work, but I’m constantly working on personal projects, trying to learn new techniques, researching what other artists are doing, reading about the craft of writing fiction… Lately, I’ve been focusing on the Sherman and Nook project, as I have mentioned before, which demands a good amount of organization and patience.

Are there any painting tips (materials, etc) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

For painting, I use Photoshop in the most basic way possible. I’m starting to experiment with natural textures and messing with them a little in Photoshop.

What are you working on now?

I have recently finished a four text books series for a client in Canada and I’m about to start the seventh volume for a PB series for a Brazilian client. I have updated my website a couple of days ago, so I invite you to take a look at it.

Are there any marketing things you have done that helped you get additional work?

So far, cold calls have worked best for me. Going to illustration related events and having the chance to meet art directors is always great too.

Do you have any words of wisdom for your fellow illustrators that might help them become more successful?

Paraphrasing the Beastie Boys: “Be true to yourself and you will never fall”. And join the SCBWI.

Thank you Vin for sharing your process, illustrations, and journey with us. If you are planning on attending the New Jersey SCBWI Writers/Illustrator Weekend, make sure you look for Vin. He will be there. You can keep in touch with Vin on: and facebook:

Please leave Vin a comment if you have a few minutes.  Thanks!  Vin, please let us know when your first picture book comes out in English.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Vin,

    Your work is great! Your characters are full of life and energy, and definitely, very very cute. I like the color choices and the dynamic composition of the pages.

    Congratulations in all your accomplishments and good wishes for the future.

    (Thank you Kathy for a wonderful interview!)



  2. Nice stuff. It’s hard to develop a signature style. I really like yours.


  3. Twice as fun to read since I was fortunate to meet Vin yesterday at the NJ SCBWI craft day. Love your blog!


  4. Thank you once more for having me here, Kathy. It was a pleasure meeting you as well as the other members of NJ-SCWBI last week-end!


    • Vin,

      My pleasure! It was so nice meeting you over the weekend. Please let me know all your future success stories.



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