Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 30, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Lydia Mueller

Lydia Mueller is an illustrator represented by Lemonade Illustration living in the cornfields outside of Chicago. She went to school for animation and has a great love for cartoons and anything labeled as “weird” or “fantasy”.  She worked in graphic design for several years but 2 years ago she decided to get serious about illustrating – something she always loved because of the storytelling aspect.


Some thumbnail sketches

Was trying to work out what the monster would be by scribbling shapes.

Made a more refined sketch using perspective lines

Did a value study

Ended up changing the monster

Laid in flat color.

I put in shadows and lighting with adjustment layers in Photoshop.

Finished Illustration.

How long have you been illustrating?

About 2 years ago I decided to pursue illustration as a career. Art in some form has always been a hobby.

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

A couple years ago I had an Etsy shop where I sold prints of my watercolor illustrations. I think the first one I sold was a giant lobster on top of an old station wagon. I sold some prints but kind of abandoned the idea after my husband joined the Marine Corps and we moved.

Did you go to college to study art? Where?

I went to the Illinois Institute of Art and studied animation. Most of the focus was on 3D modeling and animation. Right before graduation I realized I didn’t like 3D animation as much as drawing.

Where do you live?

I live in Illinois, west of Chicago. I’ve been in Illinois my whole life except for the 3 years we lived in North Carolina.

What do you think influenced your style?

A LOT of Nickelodeon and Calvin & Hobbes as a kid.

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

Shortly after graduating I started doing pre-press and design for a large format printer.

Do you use the skills you learn in animation with your illustrations?

For many years I was disappointed in myself for studying animation and then leaving it behind. Now I’ve realized that a lot of the study does transfer over to illustration. The storytelling, the character expressions and poses, character consistency. It’s all there.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

For a long time I wanted to but I had no idea where to start. I found SVS (Society of Visual Storytelling) and found a community of illustrators and it all branched out from there.

Do you illustrate full time? If not, what type of job do you have while advancing your illustrating career?

I don’t but I’d really like to! Right now I’m working at a local doggie daycare so I hang out with a bunch of dogs all day.

What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

Send postcards and enter competitions. I am not the best at the business aspect of freelance!

Was WHEREEVER I’M WITH YOU your first picture book?

Yes it was. A woman who works with homeless families in Chicago wrote it to encourage the children who are living in shelters.

How did the book contract for WHEREEVER I’M WITH YOU come your way?

The author is a friend of my cousin.

Have you illustrated anything for magazines?

No, but I’d love to.

Would you like to write and illustrate a children’s book?

Writing is an art form and I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ll stick to painting!

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

I would do it again.

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

Both books that I’ve done had words but I have done personal work based on loose story ideas that I have.

How did you connect with the Lemonade Illustration Agency and get representation?

First I researched illustration agencies to be sure my work would be a good fit. After that I sent them samples of my work with a short cover letter introducing myself.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Digital. It’s so fast and forgiving and doesn’t take up much space.

Has that changed over time?

I still love watercolors but I haven’t used them recently. I switched to digital because I moved and all of my supplies were in storage. The lack of cleanup is really nice.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Our place has 2 bedrooms so the extra bedroom is where my computer lives.

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

My Wacom Cintiq

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

I haven’t set a specific amount of time to work per day. There are days when I’m just not feeling it and others where I can sit all day and paint.

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

I collect SO MANY references on google and put them in a folder.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

It definitely has but on the other hand it can be stifling.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?


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

Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch

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

If I could illustrate a Star Wars book I would die happy.

What are you working on now?

Lately I’ve been painting classical-looking portraits. It’s been fun doing something that’s not “cartoony”.

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.

My tip for artists that are new to digital – step away from the airbrush. It’s very easy to overdo and your painting ends up muddy and hazy. I know because I had the same addiction and was called out. Also, I love Kyle Webster’s Photoshop brushes.

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

I’m still looking for answers on that one myself!

Thank you Lydia 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 Lydia’s work, you can visit her at her website:

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

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for sharing, Lydia! Very fun work!


  2. Thanks for sharing. Lovely illustrations.


  3. Lydia, this was so much fun to read and look at! I know you were just recently on Illustrator Sunday, too 😀 Thanks for sharing!


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