Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 6, 2018

Illustrator Saturday: Lindsay Ward

Lindsay Ward has a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University. Her most recent books include It’s Show-and-Tell, Dexter! (Two Lions, 2018), Don’t Forget Dexter! (Two Lions, 2018), and Brobarians (Two Lions, 2017). She is also the author and illustrator of The Importance of Being 3 (Dial 2016), Rosco vs. the Baby (S&S, 2016), Henry Finds His Word (Dial, 2015), a Choose to Read Ohio Book for 2017/2018, When Blue Met Egg (Dial, 2012), and Please Bring Balloons (Dial, 2013), which was produced into a play by the New York City Children’s Theater in 2017. Her work has been reviewed in Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and the New York Times. Lindsay is currently working on her newest picture book, This Book Is Gray, with Two Lions, and imprint of Amazon Publishing. She lives in Peninsula, Ohio with her husband, two sons, and dog. Visit her online at

Photo 1: Early sketch of Jack and Dexter.

Photo 2: After I did a couple finishes of Dexter (right profile, left profile, and head on) I printed them out to keep track of where Dexter’s spots were located so he was consistent throughout the book.

Photo 3: I start by drawing on the paper directly over a light table, then I cut out the shapes for each character, putting them all together. Prior to cutting Dexter out, I would paint his teeth and eyes.

Photo 4: I work to scale in all of my books, which means the original artwork is the size you see it in the book. That means at times, I’m working very small.

Photo 5: Multiple Dexters cut out and ready for placement on their finished boards.

Photo 6: Layout of the final spread in DON’T FORGET DEXTER! I arrange all of the cut outs and then take a photo to send to my editor and art director for approval before I glue everything down. This way I can move things around if they have any changes.

Photo 7: Printer’s proofs of DON’T FORGET DEXTER! I go through all the pages and mark them up, sending my notes to my editor for corrections before we go to final print.

How long have you been illustrating?

Almost 10 years.

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

My first illustration job was a cover and four spot illustrations for a middle grade novel, STAR Academy, with Random House Canada.What made you choose to attend Syracuse University? I wanted to go to a school with a strong illustration program within a larger university. After growing up in California, I thought living someplace completely different than what I’d known my whole life would be an adventure.

Did you study art there?

Yes. I received my BFA in Illustration with minors in art history and English.

Do you think art school influenced your style?

Yes and no. I had the opportunity to explore a lot of different mediums in college which I think cultivated my work in many ways. But ultimately, working at bookstores and studying the picture books I was selling were really what helped me develop my own voice as an illustrator.

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

I managed a children’s book store in Boston, Massachusetts.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

When I was 15 I got my first job working at a children’s book store, Hicklebee’s. After meeting various authors and illustrators who came to visit, I realized I wanted to create picture books too.

I see that Emily van Beek at Folio Literary Management represents you? How did you meet and how long have they represented you?

I’ve been lucky enough to work with Emily for almost 5 years now. My first agent left the business while I was working on Henry Finds His Word. At the time it seemed overwhelming to consider querying again while I was in the middle of a book. Thankfully, my editor at the time asked me who I was interested in querying and said she would reach out to them on my behalf while I focused on finishing the book. Emily was at the top of my list, and thankfully she was interested! She called to offer representation the next day.

Was Yellow Butterfly written by Mehrnaz S. Gill your first illustrated picture book?

Yes. I had to complete this book is just over a month. It was crazy! To this day it’s the fastest I’ve ever finished a book.

How did that opportunity come your way?

While I was working as a bookstore manager in Boston, I was sending out postcards of my artwork to various art directors at different publishing houses. After about two and half years of sending postcards every 3 months, I received three calls for three separate jobs from the same postcard.

Was When Blue Met Egg the first book that you wrote and Illustrated?

No. Actually, Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon was the first book I wrote and illustrated.

What inspired that story?

When Blue Met Egg is in many ways my love letter to New York. I lived there one summer in college.

How did you get Dial to publish it?

When Blue Met Egg was the first book I went on submission with after landing an agent. My agent at the time created a submission list and included Nancy Conescu from Dial. Apparently, she’d been very interested in my work and made an offer for my book shortly after. It was a huge opportunity for me, as it was the first time I had received an offer from a major publishing house.

After that you published another book, Please Bring Balloons with Dial. Was that in the contract you sign with them for When Blue Met Egg?

No, it was a separate contract. After I finished working on When Blue Met Egg, Nancy asked me if I had anything else I was working on so my agent and I sent her Please Bring Balloons. Thankfully, she loved it and that title became the second book I published with Dial.

Then another book Henry Finds his Words with Dial in 2015. Did you have the same editor with all three?

Yes. While I was working on Please Bring Balloons, I wrote Henry Finds His Word. That was also sold to Nancy at Dial in a two book deal, which included my fourth book with them, The Importance of Being 3.

In 2016 you illustrated Rosco vs. Baby with Simon & Schuster. How did that come about?

Unfortunately, before I started The Importance of Being 3, my wonderful editor at Dial left. I had been working on a manuscript for Rosco vs. the Baby, but now that my editor was leaving, my agent and I decided to submit the book on general submission, including other houses I had never worked with before. We had immediate interest from an editor at Simon & Schuster, who we ultimately ended up selling the book to.

Where you finished illustrating The Importance of Being Three, your forth book with Dial before you signed with S&S to illustrate Rosco vs. Baby with Simon & Schuster?

No. We actually sold Rosco vs. the Baby before I began working on The Importance of Being 3. I ended up working on both books at the same time as a result of how the scheduling worked out. It was actually really crazy because I was also pregnant with my first son at the time. Needless to say there was a lot of naps involved, that was the most exhausted I’ve ever been during a book, let alone two!

How did you ended up doing your new book Don’t Forget Dexter and the sequel of It’s Show and Tell Dexter with the publisher Two Lions?

I had just finished Brobarians with Two Lions and had a wonderful experience with them. My agent sent them the dummy for Dont Forget Dexter!, and they loved it so much they offered a two book deal. At that point the sequel to Dexter hadn’t even been written yet. Originally we had only submitted it as one book. Hopefully there will be more Dexter T. Rexter books to come!

You must like Two Lions because you published Brobarians with them in 2017. Can you tell us a little bit about them?

Two Lions is an imprint of Amazon Publishing. They have only been around since 2009, but employ a wonderful team of people who are invested in making the best children’s books possible. I’ve really enjoyed working with them.

How many picture books have you illustrated?


Do you think you will ever illustrate a wordless picture book?

Maybe. I just haven’t had the right idea for one yet.

Would you consider illustrating someone else’s picture book?

Of course! I’ve only had that opportunity twice, but I love to illustrate other writer’s manuscripts.

Have you ever illustrated something for a children’s magazine?


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

As of now, I don’t actively do anything. Most of the projects I have done the past nine years have been my own. When I first started publishing though, I used send postcards of my artwork to art directors every three months.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Cut paper and mixed media.

Has that changed over time?

Yes. In the beginning I only used cut paper. Now, I try to let the book determine what medium would suit the story best. My illustration work incorporates a mix of mediums as of late.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes. I work in a small bedroom at one end of my house.

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

Probably my blue pair of scissors that I’ve used on every book I’ve ever done.

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

I’m a firm believer in the four hour work day. I find that after four hours, I’m tapped creatively. I usually get up and work from 5-9am and then I’m with my boys the rest of the day.

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

I don’t typically take photos, but I do research a lot of images online and in books prior to beginning a project.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. For one, I don’t think I would be able to live in Ohio and have this job. I would probably need to live in New York. The internet has allowed writers and illustrators to live all over the world and still stay connected with publishers in a few select cities. It has also allowed me to have access to endless amounts of information for research purposes.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

No. Occasionally I use Photoshop to build a picture book dummy for submission, but at this point, I don’t use it for finished art.

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

No, but I’m very intrigued by them. I have a friend who works exclusively on one and she loves it.

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

I want to keep making good books that my readers can enjoy for years to come and continue to challenge myself as a writer and illustrator.

What are you working on now?

I just finished up the sequel to Dont Forget Dexter!, titled Its Show and Tell, Dexter!. In January I will begin working on a picture book with Two Lions, THIS BOOK IS GRAY, and a new board book transportation series with HarperCollins.

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’m very particular about paper. Most of what I use is found or recycled. But when I paint or draw directly onto paper, I prefer to use Rives BFK printmaking paper. I also only use Ticonderoga #2 pencils for sketching.

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

Persistence. You are going to hear a lot of no’s before you hear a yes. The most important thing is to keep your head up and have faith in the work you do. You have to be your biggest advocate because no one else is going to do it for you.

Thank you Lindsay for sharing your talent, process, and expertise with us. Make sure you share you future successes with us. To see more of Lindsay’s work, you can visit her at her website:

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

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for sharing about your work! I love the baby’s crossed arms on the cover of Roscoe and the Baby – so funny!


  2. Thank you Lindsay ❤️


  3. I enjoy your picture book posts! As a writer who does not illustrate, I’m always in awe of the talent showcased in these posts. Additionally, I appreciate reading about the process others go through. 😊


  4. Reblogged this on WILDsound Writing and Film Festival Review.


  5. Lindsay, I’ve been seeing your work on the shelves! I love hearing about how you go about it and am always in awe of anyone that has the patience to be cutting out images! Thanks for sharing all this (Kathy, too! 😀


  6. Thank you, Lindsay, for sharing your creative process. Your talent shines in your illustrations and make me smile.
    Suzy Leopold


  7. Loved learning more about your process in creating these gorgeous illustrations!


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