Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 11, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Jessica Linn Evans

Jessica Linn Evans was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest where she grew up into a love of the outdoors and fairy stories. She graduated from the University of Idaho with a BFA in Studio Arts. After many years in the role of Art Director/Graphic Designer, she moved forward full-time with her passion for illustrating and writing books for children, creating whimsical characters and settings, emphasizing the wonder of God’s world. Jessica resides in Idaho with her husband and four delightful children.

See this lovely article by Shelle Lenssen on featuring Jessica’s illustration and her vision for children’s literature.

Jessica says, “When I paint, I strive to amplify the wonder of creation and awaken an awareness in children of the every day miracles in the world around them.

“I also write. Mostly fairy tales, because that’s what I love. They clearly portray good and evil. They help kids name the dragon in their own lives and teach them how to kill it. Besides that, who couldn’t use a little more magic?

“Stories are food for children. They need stories to grow up properly. And you are what you eat, right? So I strive to serve up good meals. But nutritious doesn’t have to be boring! …And I’m not into skipping dessert.”

Here is Jessica explaining her process:

After I do many character sketches, I’ll do several, more developed sketches of the page I want to create, experimenting with different character movement and composition of the scene. Once I settle on a composition, I’ll make the outlines of the main shapes darker and more defined so I can easily trace it onto tracing paper. Then I apply graphite to the back of the tracing paper and position the composition where I want it over the watercolor paper. After transferring the desired outline to my watercolor paper, I paint in preliminary shading, usually with a neutral gray. Next, I add more definition to the shading. Finally, I add the color and detail over the top of the shading. The result, in this case: Bun Bun has (pretend) tea from a fancy cup while demonstrating bad posture.

Interview with Jessica Linn Evans

How long have you been illustrating?

I made a trilogy of little picture books for my mom when I was 5 years old. I put them in a little milk carton with the top cut off so she could have a box set.

What made you choose to get your BFA at University of Idaho?

I got a full ride volleyball scholarship to play at University of Idaho. They didn’t have an illustration or graphic design program, so I chose the closest degree. But it was really a good fit to hone my illustrating focus as well.

Why did type of classes do you take when you study Studio Arts?

Oil painting, sculpture, Visual Composition and the Design Process. VCDP was a killer. That’s when I started drinking coffee for my all-nighters.

Do you think art school influenced your style?

Yes, my technique is better and I pay attention to color and composition.

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

I started out as a graphic designer for the University of Idaho print shop.

How did you get the Art Director/Graphic Designer job? Was that in Idaho?

I started out with page layout and photo adjustment at the Appaloosa Horse Club in Moscow, Idaho. We produced a full color magazine monthly and that really taught me about deadlines! I eventually became the art director for the magazine (Appaloosa Journal). Later, I moved up the highway 8 miles to be a graphic designer at Washington State University’s University Press.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I’ve always wanted to illustrate children’s books. In fact, when I started the art program at the U of I, I thought that’s why everyone wanted to study art. Isn’t that the only reason to study it? Of course, most (if not all) of the other students had different reasons for pursuing an art degree, but I was all in for kid’s books!

Do you have an Artist Rep. to represent you? If so, how did you meet and how long have they represented you? If not, would you like to find representation?

I don’t have an Art Rep. yet, but I’ve started my search and I’d love to find a great fit.

Was WAITING THROUGH WINTER your first illustrated picture book?

Yes. If you don’t count the box set for my mom.

How did that opportunity come your way?

The publisher and his family used to live in Moscow, Idaho, before he owned a publishing house. He emailed me one day and asked if I was still illustrating children’s books. Still? I hadn’t done any yet, but I was ready to start. “Yes I am!” I told him. And it went from there!

SOLAR THE POLAR is coming out in December. How did that job come your way?

I was contacted by the agent representing the author. They loved the bears in Waiting Through Winter and asked if I would consider polar bears this time.

Was it hard to illustrate LITTLE MOUSE FINDS A FRIEND while working on SOLAR THE POLAR?

Yes. It was definitely the most hectic summer of my life!

Have you illustrated other types of illustration projects?

Yes, I did several illustrations for the Appaloosa Journal and various pubs at WSU Univerity Press as well as illustrations for educational books. I’ve also done commissioned artwork for private parties.

Have you illustrated any book covers for novels?

Not novels. I illustrated the cover for a children’s history book called Trial and Triumph (Canon Press).

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

Absolutely. I love fairytales/folk tales and adventure stories. I’ve written both. They aren’t published yet, but I’m working on it.

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

I’d consider it on a case by case basis.

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

Yes! It’s super hard. But I have a completed one out on a couple queries.

What educational publishers have you worked with?

Canon Press and Logos Press, both here in Moscow, Idaho. They develop a lot of curriculum for homeschool families.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Graphite and Watercolor.

Has that changed over time?

I’ve always liked graphite. Watercolor came later.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Nope. I paint on the dining room table.

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

Natural light!

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

I attend SCBWI conferences, but I’m a full time mom and volleyball coach, so I have to catch as catch can. I usually get in about 20 hours a week if I can.

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

Absolutely. I almost always use reference.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Oh yes. So much easier to do research at the click of a mouse.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Photoshop to make small corrections and make color consistent, but all my illustrations are done with traditional mediums.

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

Not yet!

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

Make beautiful picture books for children. That’s about it.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently marketing Little Mouse Finds A Friend and polishing up some manuscripts, but I’m also developing a wordless picture book.

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.

I love to use Hahnemülel Bamboo Watercolor paper blocks. I don’t have to stretch the paper and it takes all kinds of scrubbing and erasing without damaging the tooth.

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

Keep writing and drawing. Practice makes… better. Also, get in a critique group for both disciplines if you can. They’re extremely helpful and you make a lot of great friends. SCBWI is a super resource for being successful in the children’s’ book industry.

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

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

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Beautiful artwork, Jessica!


  2. I don’t see the words University of Idaho in print very often. I graduated from there, too, many years ago (in Education). Love your art, too!


  3. Very nice illustrations! Thank you for sharing with us!


  4. Lovely variety of styles and Jessica has a great sense of humor, too!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: