Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 23, 2018

Illuatrator Saturday – Sandie Sonke

Sandie was born and raised in sunny Rancho Cucamonga, California. She graduated with a BA in Studio Art from Cal State University Fullerton in 2010. Wearer of many hats, Sandie is a freelance illustrator, wife, and mom to two inspirational souls. Sandie is happy to be a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since 2015. When she is not drawing you can find her playing legos with her kids or sipping coffee with her husband. 


I start out with a very rough thumbnail sketch. They are messy, but make sense to me!

After that I go to procreate on my iPad and work on my detailed sketch. Then send for feedback.

After my work is reviewed, then I make changes if they are needed.  For this particular sketch we just changed to paintings around and added the pup.  Then color!


Finished colored interior art.

Cover of Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush Written by Melissa Stoller.

Interview with Sandie Sonke

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been illustrating a little over 3 years professionally.

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

I think it was to create a custom portrait for some wedding save the date cards. That was in 2010.

Did you go to college to study art?

Yes. I went to Cal State Fullerton and received a B.A. in Studio Art.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

Not really. I didn’t go into illustration right after college. I had a steady job that I liked and put illustration aside for a bit.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

I think it gave me a good foundation. My style didn’t come about until I started focusing on my dream of becoming an illustrator. I started drawing everyday and took a lot of different online courses. My style sort of emerged from that. 

What type of illustrating did you do when you first started your career?

I had a few fun and interesting commissions. One was an illustration for a children’s first aid kit. Another commission I had was from an educator and songwriter who asked me to create a set of drawings for some educational videos she was developing. It’s great because Illustrators are needed for a lot of different things!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

It was in 7th grade I think. My English teacher gave us a fabulous assignment to write and illustrate a children’s book. I had such a blast with it! My love for children’s books and dream of illustrating them started then.

Was Scarlet’s Magic Brush your first illustrated book? If not what was the title and when was it published?

Yes and no. I also got a contract for The Little i Who Lost His Dot around the same time.

How did your first picture book illustration job come about?

Mira Reisberg from the Children’s Book Academy contacted me about a year after I took one of her wonderful courses. She told me she was art directing for Clear Fork Publishing and wanted to know if I would like to illustrate Scarlet for them. I loved the story and couldn’t wait to get started!

That’s great that the online course you took at The Children’s Book Academy with Mira lead to you illustrating Scarlet’s Magic Brush. Can you tell us a little bit about the course and your time with Mira?

Sure!  It’s a five week course jammed packed with wonderful stuff. I was so glad to have access to the course after the 5 weeks were over because there is so much Mira gives you!  She has great lessons, expert interviews, exercises, and really informative webinars. I really felt confidant and prepared when I got that contract for my first book. It’s a great class for all levels.

Mira is great to work with and I have learned so much from her. She puts her whole heart in everything she does and wants her students to succeed.

How did you get the contract to illustrate The Little i Who Lost His Dot?

I believe Familius Publishing saw my artwork online. They sent an email with the manuscript and said they felt my illustration style was a good match for Little i. It’s a really cute story.

Do you have dates for when these are coming out this fall?

The Little i Who Lost His Dot will be available August 1st.  I am not sure about the exact date for Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush, but I think it’s around the same time.

Have you done any greeting card art?

No, but I want to. I need to start submitting some designs.

Do you have an artist rep. to represent your illustrations? If so, who and how long. I not, would you like to find one.

I do not, but would like one very much. I plan to search and hopefully find one next year.

Have you done any book covers?

Not yet!

Do you have a daytime job or do you freelancing?

I freelance and am a full time mom to a 3 and 5 year old.


Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Sure! I am working on sketches for one now.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate you own book?

Yes! I have few story ideas. I just need the time to work on them.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?


Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

Not yet!


Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

That would be fun!

What do you think is your biggest success?

Becoming a published illustrator.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love my iPad and use Procreate. I think it is very intuitive! If I am working traditionally I like color pencil and watercolor.

Has that changed over time?

Yes. I didn’t like the idea of creating digital art at first. I think I was a little afraid of it. I eventually decided to learn and I am so happy I did because I love it now!

Can you tell us a little about where you create your gorgeous art?

I work at home and I have taken over the kitchen table!

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

I make it a point to draw every day. There was a time when I would go weeks or even months without drawing and I can’t imagine doing that now!


Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

I do. For me I think that research is an important part of being an illustrator. Right now I am illustrating a book about ballerinas, so I am researching poses and different ballet costumes. My 3 year old is in her first ballet class right now. She has been my model for some leaps!

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?


Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?


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

iPad pro. I use Astropad with it when I work in Photoshop.

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

My ultimate dream is to write and illustrate a children’s book. I would also love to do illustrations for children’s toys and puzzles. I think that would be fun.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on sketches for a children’s book about ballerinas. I am also making a procreate technique video for Mira Reisberg’s upcoming children’s book illustration course.

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 recently discovered that Creative Market has some great brushes to download for procreate.


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

Work hard and have fun!

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

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


Talk tomorrow,



  1. adorable work! Inspiring again. Thank you for sharing your story and your tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandie, your work has that wonderful child-like quality 🙂 Thanks for sharing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful Interview! Sandie, I remember your work in MATS courses we have taken together (Bootcamp)! 🙂


    • Thanks so much ❤️ I love MATS!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Such pretty work! Thank you for sharing!


  5. This is so awesome and I’d like to know more about the online classes. Yeah I went to school for business and am learning all of this on my own. I love every moment of it.


    • Mireya,

      I have all the ideas up on today’s post about the class.



  6. Your use of creative color combinations makes your illustrations literally ‘jump’ off of the page! Thank you for sharing your art and tips with us. Love, love, love your work, Sandie.


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