Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 15, 2018

Illustrator Sunday – Julie Lopez

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Mira Reisberg has worn just about every hat in the children’s book industry including award-winning illustrator, author, kidlit university professor, and children’s literary agent. Mira is also the Director of the international online school – the Children’s Book Academy. Mira’s students have published or contracted over 215 books and won just about every North American children’s book award. Her first edited and art-directed acquisitions at Clear Fork/Spork will be available at the end of 2018 and early 2019. Mira feels very grateful to help make the world a better and more joyful place through children’s books. She is especially excited to be co-teaching The Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Art Director Andrea Miller starting August 20th right here


Hi Julie just a quick reminder to take what you like and leave the rest in terms of my comments. I really like this fun hand drawn looking girl immersed in her headset even if it most likely has been drawn in Photoshop. Everything about it looks consistent within itself except for the pattern or texture shirt, which when I looked at larger in Photoshop, looks a little out of place because the repeating pattern or texture is so different with everything else on the image, which is flat color. That is unless of course it’s an image to go with a story about pattern or texture in some way (which might be a cool thing to do).

If I was at directing you or working with you as a student, I would encourage you to either bring in more of those patterns or textures in other places, or better yet remove it from the shirt and just hand draw a wonderful pattern to keep it consistent (unless of course as I mentioned, it goes with a story about pattern or texture. I could see fun hand-drawn flowers, checks, zigzags, polka dots on the shirt instead using your lovely line quality. I really like the looseness of this and the emotion in it.

The only other thing I would encourage you to do is show her arms and hands somehow – maybe on the top of her head holding the headset on or on the table holding a book or something because when I see an image like this my first thoughts are, she’s scared to do hands, because Art Director’s do see a lot of images like this from people who really are scared to do hands. Apart from that I could see you developing this wonderful little character into a whole story about a little girl who loves music but it is always getting in trouble because she is not doing her homework and other things she needs to do because she’s lost in her music. And then the journey would be how does she manage to live in the world and have her music as well. Maybe she discovers air pods, which make it less obvious so she can walk around and do the things that she needs to do or… – who knows? The bottom line is she is an intriguing little girl.

Get Lost In A Book could make a lovely cover and covers are really helpful things to include in your portfolio. I really like the use of mostly primary colors with the red yellow and blue-ish teal. These colors always pop and look great for kids. I would love to see you push this a little more by angling the books a bit more changing the color of the top of the top book and changing the angle of the ferry girl or butterfly girl on the top to destabilize the image just a little and have it be a little less static. I would also encourage you to push those visual thinking skills. What could happen to this fairy after she gets lost/enters the books?

I went in and did a little down and dirty play with this to show you what I mean. Something else to consider when doing type is that it doesn’t have to be huge to be visible, it just needs to contrast. Also make sure you never have text too close to the edge of a book or the gutter. Also your title says “get lost in a book” and while it’s super cute having a fairy read the book, I think you could push it more by having her thinking about or imagining the ways that she could get lost in a book. I Googled copyright-free castles, but you could also have unicorns, dragons, elves, what else might a fairy be reading about and getting lost in hinted at in her imagination via a thought bubble or in the background? I also amped up the shadow just a bit more to make it more dramatic and to guide the reader to the right more so they want to turn that cover and enter the book.

And finally the girl with the book cart – I would flip her so she’s facing right to guide the viewer’s eye to turn the page. For some reason, the textured dress makes more sense in this image but if she’s in the same book as the girl with the headset, it feels stylistically like a different universe because of the lack of chin with this and how she just feels very, very different from the first character. I could see a really fun picture book or a chapter book with this character (although personally I’d like a smidge more chin – but that’s just me). I hope you found something in this helpful as I think you have a lot of potential.

Mira thank you for Julie’s critique.


Julie Lopez is currently pursuing a career in freelance illustration. She loves drawing cute, whimsical illustrations with an emphasis on children and animals. She has been a graphic designer for over 10 years but her true love is illustration.

Julie lives with my husband, 2 teenage children and our dog in Connecticut. I grew up in Santa Rosa, CA and graduated with an Associates Degree in Graphic Design from the Santa Rosa Junior College.

You can view more of her work at

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATORS: Art Director Andrea Miller at HMH or Dr. Mira Reisberg at Clearfork/Spork could critique your submission on Illustrator Sunday. It starts on July 8th for seven Sundays in a row. This is a limited opportunity to get your work seen by an art director. Illustrators should send in 2 or 3 consecutive illustrations that could be used in a picture book to kathy.temean(at) Please put July/Aug Illustrator Sunday in the subject line, put illustrations in the body of the email and include a picture of yourself and your bio. All .jpgs need to at least be 500 pixels wide.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you so much for choosing me. This really gave me a lot to think about and great to hear an objective perspective for a true professional. I really appreciate your kind words and feel invigorated to continue. Thank you again!


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