Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 23, 2018

Illustrator Sunday – Susan Miller

Susan Miller:

Susan started her career as a fashion illustrator, and then had the wonderful opportunity to work for Weekly Reader on staff. Since then she has had the pleasure of working on many children’s books, puzzles, as well as illustrations for Highlights publications. She works out of her home studio in Florida.


The first thing I noticed (not artwork related) is that two of these files are Photoshop files, and one is a jpeg. Just an overall note that when sending artwork or samples to be reviewed, make sure that the formats are all consistent. And steer clear from sending Photoshop files unless they are specifically asked for. Jpegs are best!

Now, on to the artwork! This seems like it’s from a sweet dummy about things to share – and things not to share! A very important lesson for little ones. I really like the simplicity of the black and white sketches. In the coloring piece, there’s a hint of background, so that you know they are on the floor in a room in their house, and the overhead perspective is fun – as if we are a parent looking down! Their faces are happy and content; exactly as you’d want them to be!

The other black and white piece with the floating underwear and the girl in a little vignette, I love. That’s a great way to visually mix up the telling of the story – instead of creating just another spread of the two girls interacting (and avoiding what could be an awkward spread, considering it’s about undies!). Very good decision-making here! And well done – the girl’s expression is that of listening intently, and her body language follows suit. The dog is present, which is a nice touch, and the floating undies are adorable – making this a really nice design; and the page as a whole expertly composed.

The color piece is nice too. I like how you have given their clothing colors that pop from the background, and kind of look a little “superhero-y” in that they are each wearing all of the same color. In this piece, however, I am very distracted by the background. It’s not overly detailed, but it’s flat – with dense, flat color and thick lines. There’s nothing adding to the story in the background, but it’s pulling my eye away from the girls and the “action” of the scene.

The fridge and the countertop and cabinets look flush against one another – which they wouldn’t be. And the dark brown of the cabinets are pulling my eye to them – which is not where you want the eye! Maybe lightening up on the black outline or lightening up the line quality in general might help to keep things from being too “solid” in the background. The flatness of the digital painting and the thicker black outline give this finished piece a more “educational” feel. And perhaps that’s the goal, since this seems as though it’s an educational book! But if you look at the general aesthetic of the trade books these days, a more textured, painterly brush, and sketchier (or no) outline is more widely seen. I think that playing around with your brushes, and adding texture to the painting would loosen up this finished piece, and give it a more fluid overall feel. Especially with the girls’ hair; it would be fun to see some movement there.

Overall, your style is adorable and certainly appealing! Body language, expression and proportions are all done very well. Depending on what market you’re looking to appeal most to, I’d play a bit with your finished line and digital painting. There’s so much you can do now to keep your colors from looking flat and heavy – it’s amazing!

Thank you very much for sharing your fun work, and intriguing us with this cute story that I could definitely use in my household!

Thank you, Chris for taking the time to review Susan’s illustrations. Your thoughts were very informative.

Below is a little bit about The CAT Agency:

The CAT Agency, Inc. is the first mother/daughter agency in the business! A trained artist herself with a BA in Fine Art, Chris Tugeau has been a pioneer in the children’s illustration industry for over 25 years. Since opening her own agency in 1994, Chris has enjoyed representing many talented artists, and has been an active part of the illustration community; writing and presenting for SCBWI regions around the country. She is also the author of SCBWI Illustrator Guidelines. A veteran artist and rep, Chris is an advocate for ethical fairness and the bright future of children’s publishing. She’s also a mother of 3, a grandmother to 8, and best friend to husband, Bill.

Daughter, Christy Tugeau Ewers, has been rooted in the children’s literature industry since Chris started the agency in 1994, and she has been surrounded by artists her entire life. Aside from her mother, her brother, Jeremy Tugeau is an exceptional fine art and children’s illustrator, represented by his wife, Nicole, at Tugeau 2. Christy’s husband, Chris Ewers, is an artist too, as a talented cinematographer and film-maker.

With a degree in English/Journalism and over a decade of experience in various creative fields, Christy offers a different perspective to the agency, while maintaining the enthusiasm and love that her mother brings to the industry. Aside from writing, her interests include seaside escapes, very hot coffee and pitbulls named Gertie.

And of course, grandchildren/children, Billie & Finnegan, are The CAT Agency’s resident experts and critics. Billie has over 5 years of experience in the world, and has formed a deep love of unicorn literature and all things Pink/Purple/anything-licious. Finn boasts a robust background in cars and trucks, with a specific expertise in MR. TIGER GOES WILD. Billie currently enjoys using every crayon in the box, while Finn likes to spend his free time dancing to The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s theme).

Here is the link to The Cat Agency:

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This was Christy reviewing here, not Chris. She knows about little ones sharing … or not! 😁


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