Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 15, 2019

Illustrator Saturday – Anne Lambelet

Anne Lambelet  earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration from the University of the Arts in 2014 where she was awarded the Roger T. Hane award for the top illustration portfolio by a senior.  Since then she has worked with several clients:

  • HarperCollins

  • Simon & Schuster

  • Owlcrate

  • Page Street Kids

  • The Boston Globe magazine

  • The Progressive

  • Minnesota Monthly

  • Virginia living

  • North American Review

  • Grid Magazine

  • Anthology Magazine

  • and more!

 Her first author-illustrated picture book, Maria the Matador, was published by Page Street Kids in February of 2019 followed by a second author-illustrated book, Dogs and their People, in June and The Traveler’s Gift by Danielle Davison in October .

She currently lives in Philadelphia with her husband Brice, her adorable dog, Eevee and her morbidly obese (but also adorable) cat, Fitzgerald. For children’s book illustration, she is represented by Stephanie Fretwell-Hill at Red Fox Literary. You can contact her by emailing her at or by using one of the methods below.



Like most artists, before beginning the final piece, I start with a thumbnail, a sketch, and a color comp all of which I left out because I think most people get pretty much how those work.

For the final piece though, the first step is to do some more refined line-work which you can see in image #1 in this set. You can see how each of those looks separately once I scan them in images 2 – 5. Once scanned, I bring them all into Photoshop and the coloring starts!

I lay different pieces of tracing paper over that on which I then draw all the little lines that create most of the texture in my work, the shading, any patterns ,


(like polka dots, flowers and stripes on clothing n things)




and the lettering.


I block in all the base colors using the pen tool and color the line-work (image below).

Then I overlay the little lines and the patterns, color those, and mask out the line-work I don’t think is necessary anymore (image below).

Then I overlay the shading and a few other textures I’ve made over the years by scanning in watercolors, acrylics, chalk, paint splatters, etc. (image below).

And finally I add in the words on top of all the other layers and color those to produce the final image.  Along the way I use a lot of adjustment layers to alter hue, saturation, and contrast of different things as needed.

Add the lettering…  Aaaand…I think that’s about everything!  Hope that was in some way enlightening and/or helpful for anyone out there wondering about my art! Feel free to shoot anymore questions my way if you have them:)

Interview with Anne Lambelet

book cover re-design for Dracula

Zoozil Books

How long have you been illustrating?

Since before I can remember, I’ve always been making up stories and illustrating them.  I guess I first got into being paid for illustration though through online t-shirt design competitions where I really became hooked by having to design around certain prompts and parameters.  Now I’m a freelance illustrator as well as a teacher of illustration at the University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia where I live.

Game of thrones piece for a local gallery show

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

I don’t remember exactly, but I think the first time I ever got paid for my art was when I was in 5th or 6th grade. A friend’s mom commissioned me to draw some floral designs and paid me by the hour. It made me feel pretty important and professional.

for Boston Globe magazine

How did you decide to attend The University of the Arts in Philadelphia?

Before going to the University of the Arts for illustration, I actually got a first degree at Case Western Reserve University in computer science. After working for about a year at a small start-up in Cleveland programming iPhone/iPad applications, I realized that I couldn’t keep my passion for illustration on the back-burner anymore.  My boyfriend at the time (now husband) got into a masters program at Penn, and I figured moving to Philadelphia with him would give me the perfect opportunity to go back to school myself and give art a real shot.  UArts looked like it had the best illustration program in the city, and I ended up really loving it.

Did the school help you find illustration work?

The first person to hire me after I graduated discovered my art through the UArts website, and UArts definitely pointed me towards a lot of the tools I needed to promote my work professionally, but they didn’t necessarily get me any jobs directly.


Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

Going to art school definitely exposed me to a lot more artists and styles and ways of working than I might have found on my own. It also encouraged me to take a more analytical look at why I was drawn to certain art styles over others.  I think being able to dissect all of my influences and incorporate specific elements from them while discarding others is the most essential part of how I developed my own style.

What type of illustrating did you do right out of school?

My very first job was illustrating a non-fiction picture book for the National Parks, but aside from that, most of the work I initially got was illustrating magazine articles.       

Was illustrating the cover and the chapter art for Greystone Secrets #1: The Strangers your first step into illustrating a book?

No, I’d actually had several jobs illustrating books and book covers by the time I got hired for the Greystone Secrets series.  Timing can be strange and drawn out in the publishing industry so even though The Red Scrolls of Magic came out at about the same time as The Strangers (this past April), I was contacted about doing the cover for Scrolls a little over a year before being contacted to do The Strangers.  I’d also already completed all the art for Maria the Matador and I’d done a few book covers for a smaller publishing company for a series called Aunt Claire presents. They took old books from the early 1900s that are now in the public domain and re-published them with some historical context and info added in by the character “Aunt Claire”.

How exciting was it to get to illustrate Cassandra Clare’s The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses Book 1)

It was so exciting! It was the first time I’d ever been contacted by one of the big publishing companies and about such a major author/series.  The emails I sent to my agent in those next few hours probably included the most exclamation points I’ve ever used in a single day.

How did you decide to write and illustrate Maria the Matador?

I actually came up with the initial idea from a dream I had. At the time though, I think I decided to focus on fleshing out this idea over other ideas because of the statement I felt it could make as a debut book. It encompassed a lot of my main priorities as an author/illustrator: a strong female main character, a fun sense of humor, a lot of classic kid lit influences, and a chance to showcase a range of hand-lettering and illustration skills. First impressions are important, and I hope I made a good one!

Did you get any help or guidance from fellow writers?

I didn’t really get a lot of editorial help with the manuscript from anyone besides my agent and the editors at Page Street Kids, but I did get some guidance along the way from Greg Pizzoli and Zachariah Ohora.  They’d both briefly been teachers of mine at UArts so when I was going through my first publication experience, they were both generous enough to give me their advice along the way.

Was that your first published picture book?


Here is the link to read Anne’s book journey.

How did you make the contract with Page Street Kids?

I’d met Kristen Nobles at the SCBWI winter conference in New York. She’d just started Page Street Kids, and she said they were really seeking out new manuscripts and new authors and/or illustrators.  Maria was just about ready for submission at that point so my agent, Stephanie, and I made a special effort to get through those last final touches and get the dummy in front of Kristen as quickly as we could.  Luckily she liked it, and a few weeks later we were negotiating a contract!

Here is the link to Book giveaway and Anne’s Journey with this book. There is still time to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy. DOGS AND THEIR PEOPLE comes out this coming week on June 18th.


Since you have two more books coming out this year with Page Street Kids, did you sign a three-book deal that included People and Their Dogs and The Traveler’s Gift?

I didn’t, but it is currently written into my contract that Page Street Kids has optioned all my future fiction manuscripts so, for the time being, they are the first and only publisher to receive a lot of my submissions.

Are you working on writing and illustrating more picture books?

I am! I am currently illustrating a picture book for Millbrook Press that I did not write called How to Build an Insect, and I’m illustrating a fourth book for Page Street Kids that I did author myself called The Poisoned Apple. Both of those will come out fall of 2020.

How long have you been making a living from illustrating?

I’ve been making a living from illustration since I graduated from UArts in 2014 so about 5 years now!

I see you are represented by Stephanie Fretwell-Hill at Red Fox Literary?. How did you connect with them and how long have they been representing you?

I initially had another agent that I’d met at an SCBWI Pitch Day event.  After about a year together, neither of us felt like we were really connecting on which projects we were most excited about, and in 2016 we decided to amicably part ways. After that, I knew how important it was to have an agent who shared my aesthetic sensibilities and my enthusiasm for certain types of stories.  I did a lot of research through various SCBWI online resources and came up with a list of 5-10 agents I felt would really click with my work.  I sent my portfolio out to all of them and Stephanie got back to me within a few weeks.  We talked on the phone, and she seemed like a really great person. Signing on with her has been one of the best decisions of my life, and I’ve been with her for about 3 years now.

Some of your illustrations look like you could have incorporated paper into the illustrations. Is this something you regularly do?

All of my illustrations are actually completed digitally so anything that looks like I’ve incorporated paper is just an illusion. I do collage in a lot of scanned textures though that I make with pencil, watercolors, acrylics and other traditional media.  I really like that most people can’t immediately figure out how I made my art.

Zoozil Books

The book covers you have done for Zoozil Books are beautiful. Have they been published yet?

Thank you! Zoozil is actually an eReader app that electronically publishes interactive historical fiction stories so I believe the books are “published”, but you can only get them through the app and not as actual, physical books.

Did you do the pattern illustrations for a fabric or wallpaper company?

I did a couple of the patterns on my website just as personal projects, and a couple for Owlcrate so that they could go on different products included in their themed subscription boxes.  For instance, the Forbidden Forest pattern I did for them went on an umbrella!

Promo Piece

Promo Piece

Do you ever exhibit your work?

I used to participate in small “gallery” shows at local coffee shops and businesses here in Philadelphia, and I’ve had a couple pieces get into past Society of Illustrators annual shows, but these days, I don’t really actively seek out opportunities to exhibit my work.

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

Unfortunately, I try not to illustrate self-publish-ing authors as a rule.  It’s very hard to gauge the level of familiarity self-publishers have with best-practices for dealing with illustrators. They often can’t pay much up front and don’t have a good sense of the actual amount of time you have to put in to illustrate a whole book.  That’s obviously not %100 true across the board, but it’s just difficult to tell up front whether the experience will be a good one or a bad one. To avoid hurt feelings, I’ve just made it a rule for myself to always play it safe and turn them down.  I also just have a lot of ideas of my own, and I selfishly want to use my time to prioritize those.

Interior art from The Traveler’s Gift: A Story of Loss and Hope Hardcover – October 8, 2019

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

My first job out of college was illustrating a book for Eastern National about the National Parks. I’m not %100 sure if Eastern National would be considered an educational publisher, but, if not, that’s the closest I’ve come.

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

Unfortunately, I haven’t, but I would definitely be open to that if I get the chance!

for Light Grey Art Lab’s Tiny Homes gallery show

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

My next book with Page Street, The Poisoned Apple, actually started out as a wordless picture book when I was in the storyboarding stages.  After showing it to Stephanie though, we both agreed that some words would really help sell the humor.  I’d love to tackle “writing” a wordless picture book at some point though!


What do you think is your biggest success?

I think getting Maria the Matador published has been my greatest success. I’ve been fantasizing about writing and illustrating my own book since I was in kindergarten so getting to finally see something I did on the bookshelves at Barnes & Noble was an absolute dream come true.

Boston Globe

What is your favorite medium to use?

My favorite medium is digital.  There are just so many options with ways to use digital tools, and it also allows me to incorporate several different traditional media and collaged elements into a single piece of art.

Commission work

Has that changed over time?

Yes, in college I struggled with a lot of indecision over which medium to settle on.  At different times I was “sure” that watercolor and pen and ink was my medium and then that acrylic paints were my medium, and then I finally started experimenting with digital artwork.  It sort of allowed me to make a decision without really making a decision.

“Get to Know Your Parks”

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

I use a Wacom Intuos tablet to illustrate in Photoshop.

for Virginia Living magazine

What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work?

I start with a pencil drawing. I use tracing paper to trace over that several times, creating the linework, shading and hashmark textures you’ll see in all of my work.  Then I scan those, overlay them and color them in Photoshop. Finally I layer in other scanned elements (splatters, hand-painted patterns, etc.) to make my work appear more tactile and textural.

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

Right off the bat, I established a strict routine for myself as a freelancer working from home trying to mimic the routine of the average office workday. I start at 8:30, take a lunch break at noon, work until 4, take an hour for exercise, and then work the rest of the day as needed depending on deadlines.  I knew if I didn’t hold myself to a routine, it would be too easy to procrastinate and get off track.

“Get to Know Your Parks”

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

Yes, especially when I’m working on non-fiction or historical fiction, I collect a lot of reference material beforehand.  I don’t usually take my own photos, but I Google everything and order myself some books on the subject. In a few specific instances, art directors have also provided me with reference material they’ve collected.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I definitely think the internet is an amazingly helpful tool for artists.  It’s incredibly easy now to get your art out into the world , and it sort of crowd-sources self-promotion. Once a few people have discovered your art, they’ll start passing it on to other people who will pass it on to other people, etc. and you as the artist don’t have to do all that legwork by yourself to widen your audience. It also brings the people within the artistic community closer. For instance, if I want to ask someone’s advice on the publishing experience, other successful professionals are just a few key strokes away, and it doesn’t matter that they live in New York or California or are award-winning author/illustrators while I’m just starting out.  Things like Twitter make it quick and easy to remove all those obstacles and start a conversation. Plus the internet is full of resources (like SCBWI directories, YouTube tutorials, and blogs like this one) meant to help artists navigate things that would otherwise feel completely incomprehensible.

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

I would love to work on a more elaborately illustrated middle-grade fantasy novel, something a la Wildwood by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis.  The Greystone Secrets has been my closest experience to that so far, but I’d love to do something that has a few full-color illustrations throughout as well…maybe even something I’ve written myself if I can develop the discipline to crank out a story longer than 32 pages! The Folio Society also creates really beautiful books that feel like every detail is carefully illustrated and designed. I would love to work on something for them someday!

Zoozil Books

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on the cover for the next Cassandra Claire book in the Eldest Curses series, and as I mentioned earlier, I’m working on illustrating two new picture books, How to Build an Insect and The Poisoned Apple which I also wrote.

Minnesota Monthly

Grid Magazine

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.

My Wacom tablet is my best friend, and I use it every single day. Within Photoshop, I guess the digital tool that has most changed my life is “Photomerge”.  If you scan a large image in pieces, you can bring the pieces into Photoshop with File>>Automate>>Photomerge and it will automatically stitch them together into a seamless single image. Scanning large hi-res drawings would be such a huge pain without it.

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

Just keep creating new art all the time and putting it out into the world. Send out postcards and targeted email blasts. Post regularly on multiple social media platforms and keep a portfolio website of your own up to date. Try to always have a new manuscript in the works and get it in front of agents and/or editors as soon as it’s ready. If art is made with honesty and passion, there is someone out there who is going to connect with it. You just have to make it as easy as possible for them to find it in the first place.

Grid Magazine

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


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

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I ❤ your style, Anne!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So talented, Anne!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I loved reading this post. I am in awe of your beautiful, complex style. Incredible!!! Look forward to reading “Maria the Matador” too.


  4. Great interview, Kathy, and thanks for featuring Anne Lambelet! Anne, your work is amazing and original. I recognized your style right away because I have a copy of MARIA THE MATADOR (which is awesome, both the writing and illustrations). It was great seeing your other work and how on earth you do it. The digital and hand-done work, combined, is complex and subtle at the same time, combining a wide range of well-honed skills.


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