Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 18, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Rashin Kheiriyeh


Rashin Kheiriyeh is an internationally recognized, award-winning illustrator/author, animation director, and painter who has published Sixty children’s books in countries such as France, Italy,United State,Japan,Germany,Spain, South Korea,China, India and Iran.

She has received Fifty national and international awards for the books and animations including recently being selected for the Honor List of IBBY 2014. She was also the winner of New Horizon Award from Bologna Book Fair, Italy and the winner of Golden Apple Award at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia.

Rashin has Ph.D in Children’s Book Illustration from Tehran, Iran and MFA in Graphic design from Alzahra University,Tehran,Iran as well. She also studied at School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York.

Rashin is a professor of department of art, University of Maryland and enjoys illustrating for the New York Times and many other publication houses around the world.


I started with reading the story by Carol Roth and I loved it. I took my time to live with the story and even dreamed about it.
After couple of weeks, when I created the Tiger character in my mind I start sketching it with gesture lines.


Then I worked on the compositions and layout.
Then I make a dummy book with drawings and texts.
I share it with the design team of NorthSouth Books and after a lot of back and forth the final dummy approved. I try different techniques to get the best result.
I tried acrylic and oil paint then I set up a scene with little paper models for photography.
Finlay I came up with mixture of oil,ink, carved Lino technique, and collage.


Now it was time to find a proper painting style to fit with the story.


Finished piece.


Interview Questions for Rashin Kheiriyeh

How long have you been illustrating?

It has been 20 years.



What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

In 1999, my first illustration published in a popular children’s magazine in Iran called “Keyhan Bacheha”.


What made you go on to get your Ph.D in Children’s Illustration after finishing your MFA in Graphic Design from Alzahra University,Tehran,Iran?

I was interesting to emphasize on Persian children’s literature and I received the scholarship for that.


What made you leave Tehran, Iran to come to the US? What year was that?

In 2011, I was invited to SCBWI annual conference in LA and at the same time I got a chance for taking part at the artist in residence program at School of Visual Art in New York. I had a 6 months visiting plan until I met my husband in NY and my life changed completely.


Do you think art school influenced your style?

Yes, I believe that I found a right direction to what I loved to do in school. I always grateful for having great teachers in Iran.


What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

As soon as I stepped in the university in 1999 I started to work as a freelance illustrator. At the beginning I was only working with different magazines and news papers but gradually the Iranian publishers found my art interesting and I became the illustrator for many picture books for children and young adults in Iran. Later on by receiving many international awards, Foreign publishers become interested in my art as well. Years later, I got into the animation industry as a character designer and eventually I experienced working with galleries as a painter too.


Did you study animation while living in Iran?

Yes, I trained for 2D animation in an animation studio in Tehran in 2002 but I didn’t follow that direction until 2006 when I design the popular characters for an animation series called “Sugar land” for National Iranian TV. After that success I made my own animation film “The cunning tailor”.



What type of software do you use to create your animations?

I usually use After Effect, Moho and Premiere.


When did you illustrate your first picture book. What was the title and what year was that?

My first picture book was “ Joint Two Oceans” published by Kanoon edition in Iran in 2001.


How did that opportunity come your way?

I won the first prize from Tehran Illustration biannual in 2001. That was a very important award which made my art visible to the all Iranian children’s book publishers. Soon after that I received multiple offers to do book projects for kids.


Was THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY your first book with a US Publisher?

No, Two Parrots was my first book in the United States in 2013.


I see your newest book, HOLD YOUR TEMPER, TIGER is coming out on March 7th. Did you get that contract from doing other books with NorthSouth Books?

Yes, That’s correct. I have a good experience working with NorthSouth Book. They know my design style very well and always support my story ideas too.



How long did it take you to illustrate that book?

Almost 8 months.



How did you find your way to the University of Maryland as Professor of Art?

It has been three years that I am teaching animation at department of language literature and culture at the University of Maryland. Recently, the dean of the Art department invited me to teach Drawing course – I love it.



What type of classes do you teach?

It is a basic drawing class.



How many books have your own books have you written and Illustrated?

I have written many stories but only 4 of them has been published yet two in France and two in the United States. And one is coming out next year with Scholastic.


Have you illustrated any book novel covers?

Yes, I did. “Night Letter” and “Anahita’s Woven Riddle” are two novels by Meghan Sayres which I have designed the covers and published by Nortia Press in the U.S.



Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

No I didn’t but I really would like to try that.



Have you worked with educational publishers?

Yes, I did many illustrations for text books for national schools in Iran and I also cooperate with couple of Korean publishers for making the educational children’s books in South Korea.




Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Yes I did when I was in Iran. Now I am working with the new York Times art directors to illustrate for Op-Ed page articles.



Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you?

Just very recently I have joined an agency in New York.


Do you expect to continue to illustrate children’s books for foreign publishers?

Yes, I do. I would like to continue working with publishers around the world specially with Iran.



What did you do to receive the New Horizon Award (RAGAZZ I) from Bologna Book Fair; Italy?

The jury liked the unusual design of one of my books called” Arang,Arang. Tell me what color?” which was published in Iran in 2009.That book printed on a special paper that they liked it too.

I also experienced to designed a new Persian font for that book which I named it “Rashin”.


What is your favorite medium to use?

It is Oil.



Has that changed over time?

Yes, I started with water color and ink. Later I tried Acrylic. In depends on what kind of story I am working on I choose my medium and technique that would fit better.




Do you have a studio set up in your home or do you use the university to create?

I have a home studio. Very small but it works for now.



Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?


Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

I don’t take pictures but I would look at many pictures before visual brainstorm.

Sketching and making the book dummy is the part that takes most of the time in my book projects process. I always need to visual study about the characters of the stories to get connected with.




Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes, of course.



Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I try not to. Because I need to create original art works to send to the competitions, festivals and exhibitions.



Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

I use it when I want to lay out a book and put the text in a right place and also for color corrections before printing.


Do you have any career dreams that you still want to fulfill?

Yes, I do. I love to design characters for Pixar.


What are you working on now?

I am working on writing and illustrating a new book called” The Saffron Ice Cream” witch is going to be published with Scholastic next year.


Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

The spray paints and real feathers are my new hobbies to play with, I am trying to find a right way to use them in my art.

I usually buy my art supplies from Michaels and Plaza Arts in Virginia.



Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Persistence and hard working are the keys to become successful in Art.

Find a field of art that you love and stick with it to the end.




Thank you Rashin for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Rashin’s work, you can visit her at her website:

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Rashin. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks for sharing your work, Rashin! I enjoyed the dreamlike quality and sense of movement.


  2. Very nice work, Rashin! Congratulations on all of your successes!


  3. Beautiful work, Rashin!


  4. Wow! What an exuberant style! You can really tell that Rashin has a lot of fun with illustrating. 🙂


  5. Wow! I love seeing Rashin’s range. Thank you for sharing.


  6. Beautiful, unique style! I need to check out that book There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.


  7. […] a 2017 Sendak Fellow. Visit her website to view more of her work, and check out a 2017 interview on Kathy Temean’s blog. See also my review of her 2013 picture book, Two […]


  8. […] Rashin Kheiriyeh was featured on Illustrator Saturday. […]


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