Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 29, 2018

Illustrator Sunday – Farida Zaman

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 Farida I just want to start off by saying how absolutely delighted I am to have a Middle Eastern illustrator with contemporary Middle Eastern characters in what I hope is your own story. We need books like this to counteract the bigotry and cruelty that’s going on.

I love this first image, especially how easy it is to see the figure ground because of the use of white space, my only comment with this would be to put a shadow underneath the legs because they look a little like they’re about to take off flying. And then a second comment might be a little call for consistency in that you’re using your watercolors or gouache in an opaque way on the skirt and tights while you’re using it in a much more watercolory way with the shirt, so I might encourage you for a little consistency there although it’s not a biggie. I also really like how you’ve switched mediums by having the drawings closest to her being crayon or pencil, nice touch.

As always, I’m going to include a disclaimer to take what you like and leave the rest of what I say and that I am just one person’s opinion. As you know by now, as many people who look at your work, that’s how many opinions you’ll get. This next image is a little more problematic, in that it took me a while to figure out that she’s tasting snow with her tongue. It’s a very static image without much movement. I think you could do a lot more with this by mimicking with your body including your hands what would be going on if you were a little girl like Zora tasting perhaps her first snowflake and do it in profile. You’d really get to play with all that delicious body language that a child would have with their arms outstretched and face lifted up and the tongue wouldn’t look so strange. If you decide to keep it front on, I’d widen the base of the tongue in her mouth, but I think you might have some fun experimenting with it in profile.

Here’s another delightful image that I would encourage you to tweak just a smidge. It’s really hard to be consistent with faces. I know from personal experience how hard it is hard to see your own work and be objective. Here are two tips from our upcoming illustration course that will help you. Use blue line graph paper to get your proportions consistent with the graph measurements and then go through your thumbnails and draw all the characters on one or two pages so you can see them all together at once and see if one face is wider or longer than another or one body is fatter or slimmer or taller or skinnier etc. In this case Zora’s eyes and face are longer than in previous images. You can then either trace them to transfer for your final image or draw over your blue line sketches on the graph paper with pen or pencil and bring them into Photoshop to get rid of the blue line sketching and graph paper underneath.

Is that snow on the ground or does the base of the building have wavy lines? This makes it a little hard for me to read the image and if it’s wavy building lines, that’s a bit unsettling. The other thing is the ground is all the way up to the base of the window, which is also confusing unless it’s clear that she’s in a basement apartment. I would bring the ground down further and perhaps have that back wall a light blue to make it recede further and give a bit more depth. The other thing that’s confusing is that if that is snow on the ground, why are the fruit tree and palm tree blossoming? I might clarify by having the ground a light green. I love the birdies and your young artist in the story and would love, love, love to have you in our illustration course if there’s any way that you can swing it as this touches me on multiple levels. My final comment is about consistency again in that in your first image you have dots for the eyes and in the last two she has whites in her eyes. OK, I’ve got to point out one last thing, where are the flowers between the two trees coming from? The thing is, that like writing, you’ve got to take the viewer or reader on a journey where you don’t make them pause and break the magic by wondering what’s going on. So if it’s not clear in the story, you need to have a good reason for something being there that’s clear why it’s there, even if it is incredibly charming like here. Farida, I know that you’ve already studied art and have published multiple books but I hope that you’ll take some of my suggestions to heart.

With much warmth,


Farida Zaman has a passion for art and design and in her 20 years as a freelance illustrator she has worked in many countries across the world, bringing style, colour, and joy to many.  Trained in fine art and illustration and now a seasoned freelance professional, Farida displays a wide versatility of applications of her style: her art has been used in posters, book covers, children’s book illustrations, clothing, packaging, and giftware.  The look is unmistakable: lively, colourful, whimsical, executed with flair and drama – designs that always enhance and enliven.  Farida enjoys travel and loves food, music, and people from around the world – her trips in recent years have included Morocco, Thailand, Turkey, and Iran.  These travel influences come through strongly in her work: she is cosmopolitan, appreciates global cultures and multiculturalism, and has a world view.  All of this translates into a passion which makes her art enriching and inspiring.  Farida went to boarding school in England and went on to a foundation course at the Chelsea School of Art in London.  Graduating at the top of her class with honours from the Wimbledon School of Art, Farida built an international career as a freelance illustrator in Geneva, London, New York, and Toronto.  Her work has been exhibited at private shows and public galleries in New York City, New Jersey, and Toronto. She is a member of the Society of Illustrators in New York, SCBWI (Society for Children’s Bookwriters and Illustrators), and CAPIC (Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communication).  Farida is married and lives in Toronto with her daughter aged 14, son aged 11, and husband, and works from her home studio.Farida uses water colours, gouache and digital medium to execute her unique a unique style.

The list of books published:

Foolish Men of Agra and other tales of Mogul India

By Rina Singh Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Published by Key Porter Books

Count Your Way Through Iran

By Jim Haskins & Kathleen Benson Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Published by Milbrook Books

Two Shoes, Blue Shoes, New Shoes!

By Sally Fitz-Gibbon Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Published by Fitzehenry and Whiteside

I’m A Vegetarian

By Ellen Schwartz Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Published by Tundra Books

The Remarkable Journey of Josh’s Kippah

By Barbara Elissa Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Published by Kar-Ben Books

Double It Daily

By Lalie Harcourt and Ricki Wortzman Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Published by Gage Learning

The Grandmother Doll

By Alice L. Bartels Illustrated by Farida Zaman

Published by Firefly Books Ltd.

“Nearly Nonsense” Hoja Tales from Turkey

Retold by Rina Singh

illustrated by Farida zaman

Published by Tundra Books

Yoga Games

Published by Simply Read Books

Written by Kathy Beliveau

Illustrated by Farida  Zaman

Ninja’s Carnival

Sister Vision Press

Illustrated by Farida Zaman

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,


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