Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 11, 2020

Illustrator Saturday – Jamie Green

Jamie Green is a maker and professional curious person living in Greenville (funny, right?), South Carolina. She graduated in 2020 from Ringling College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration. In 2019, she was recognized by the Society of Illustrators as the Zankel Scholar. Much like her hobbies, her work can be described as the feeling of being bundled up around a campfire or hiking through the autumn woods. It is a goal of hers to both intrigue and educate, combining nature and whimsy and creating a space for curiosity (as well as a bit of magic). Jamie strives to create picture books, illustrated educational books, magazine covers, interactive materials, and chapter book covers/interiors.

Here is Jamie discussing her process:

This is process work from a recent project I did for the Ringling College of Art + Design admissions office. It is the annual poster that they send out to thousands of high schools internationally to advertise what Ringling does. For the client I first prepared a few digital thumbnails with different concepts, and they chose this direction which was to display the interaction of different types of creatives within a space:

From there, the client and I discussed a few changes to the type, where I then provided a new rough with refined character sketches:

I should also note that I tend to loosely sketch out some characters separately when I have any kind of project where I am designing characters. Here’s me playing around before I started on final character designs:

I also gave the client a couple color directions by blocking in an older, simpler thumbnail from the very early stages:

We decided to go with the option on the left because it popped more, and the colors were very on-trend.

I blocked in the color on the more refined sketch to give myself an idea of how each character could be colored in order to stand out on the background. Due to the file size limit on my ipad, I drew each character individually and then saved them all separately, placing them like a puzzle in the final.

I used the program Procreate to do this piece (and all of my digital pieces). I mainly used the brushes Mercury, 6B Pencil, Halftone, and Bonobo Chalk. I block shapes out first and then go in and add textures on top of those as I wish.

And here is the final!

Here is my interview with Jamie:

How long have you been illustrating?

Since my tiny hand could properly grasp a crayon. I wanted to create before I even realized what I was doing, and I’m thankful that my parents encouraged me with that as an outlet. I started realizing it could become a career in the third grade, I think.

What and when was the first piece of art you created for money?

It’s hard to recall exactly. I think it might have been the fifth or sixth grade. I believe I was running some sort of under-the-table art business far before that, though. Whenever kids in my class would say “Can you draw this for me?”, I vaguely remember replying “Sure, but it won’t be free”!

What inspired you to attend Ringling College of Art Design in Florida?

In 2015 I attended the precollege program, which was a mini-Ringling experience (though I would argue just as rigorous). I chose to do the computer animation course at that time, which made me realize I loved Ringling, but did not want to be an animator.

What did you study?

I was an illustration major.

Did you take any children’s illustrating courses?

Not specifically, no. My thesis teacher Katy Betz, who happens to be in the same agency as me (small world!) specialized in children’s books though and she offered a lot of insight. My style was always sort of playful, which I think lends itself well to content for kids.

Do you feel school helped you develop your style?

I definitely think it did. I came into Ringling with a vague style. I would describe it as anime-esqe living in a late 70s disco with an emphasis on fashion, city life, and modernism. Throughout the four years I was in college, my art went through various evolutions, eventually focusing more on the natural world. I had a more formal training to mature my taste and style, as well as peers that inspired me and helped me to come upon the art style I work with now.

Was Senior Show Poster a poster you did for your senior show or one for the whole class?

The senior show poster was made for a contest that the senior class holds every year, where we all create a design and one is chosen to advertise the end of the year gallery. I had a lot of fun creating mine, which was a 24×36 in. watercolor, colored pencil and gouache piece. This was my largest traditional piece to date, and I had no idea if it was going to work out! Luckily, I think it did. I’m happy with the end result at least. Also, I’d just love to shout out my good friend Alyssa Russel who won the senior show poster contest, her work is wonderful and well worth a look!

What inspired the sculpey pins you sell on Etsy?

I don’t remember if there was any specific inspiration. I made my first batch in my junior year of college and have made them ever since. Sometimes I just want to make the things that I wish I had. They probably came into fruition because I thought “It would be cool to have a little pin with a friendly mountain on it”.

I love you love for mushrooms showing up in your illustrations. How did the love affair start?

I should first mention that it was during my sophomore year going into my junior year of college that my love for the outdoors hit me like a ton of bricks. I started rock climbing, hiking, backpacking and spending more time in nature in general. This was like my gateway to mushrooms I believe, because what’s a good wander through the woods without some fungi? I remember wanting to create a fictional advertisement for a mushroom foraging festival for one of my class assignments, so I checked out a few books on mushrooms. Looking through those books felt what I believe love at first sight is described as. After that, I started foraging and doing field research on fungi at a time in my life that I think I needed it most, because it became like my own little secret world. I once wrote in a journal that “mushrooms are there, unconditionally”, and those words have stuck with me.

Did the school help you find work when you graduated?

Yes, but maybe not in a literal sense. I was the one to do all the work and I am responsible for the income from my commission work, shop and most freelance projects. Ringling helped provide me with the tools I needed to job search, as well as succeed as a professional in the industry. I have connections because of the school, such as the Ringling College Design Center, where I interned at while still in school and am currently doing some freelance for.

What type of work did you do when you started your career?

I’m doing it now! This is, technically, the beginning of my career seeing as I graduated (virtually) in May, haha! I run my etsy shop full time, take commissions here and there, and sold at events when that was still an option (and hope to again someday). I just signed with the CAT Agency with Chad W. Beckerman as my agent, and with that I am currently illustrating an editorial poem as well as a book cover!

Was Radiant Baby a published book or a mock up of one you would like to publish?

This was just a mock-up wrap around cover for one of my classes, for a fake book about the life of one of my favorite artists and activists, Keith Haring.

Did you take animation classes in college?

Only at precollege. If I had the chance to take motion design classes in college, I would have. I hope to teach myself with some online classes soon.

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

Honestly, when Chad came to me about being my agent. It was not an avenue I had seriously considered for myself previously, but I’m not sure why I didn’t.

Can you tell us a little bit about how an illustrator gets chosen or recognized as the Zankel Scholar by the Society of Illustrators?

The process goes as such: 5 junior illustration students from every art school in America are chosen by faculty to enter a portfolio + written statement to the Zankel scholarship competition each year. From there, the panel of judges as the society of illustrators chooses three total students to be flown out to NYC for final judging. I was one of the three. (I actually got the email while I had no service on a week long section hike backpacking on the Appalachian trail—so I didn’t know until a few days after and saw congratulations messages from friends and faculty, haha!) When the time comes, you must go to the Society of Illustrators HQ in NYC and present whatever materials you like. There is also an interview with the panel of judges. After deliberation, I was chosen as the 2019 Zankel scholar. I’d also like to mention that I was in the running with Alex Smith and Zach Wendt, two very cool and extremely skilled illustrators who I can now call good friends thanks to SOI. Please take the time to check them out!

Did you know that you were being considered?

I knew only when I received the email about the initial phase of the competition and remember saying to my parents on the phone “yes, I submitted my portfolio and written statement but there is no way I will be chosen”.

How did you get the job to paint the adventure headquarters’ mural?

I climbed there for about a month when I noticed they had an empty wall that would look great with a giant colorful climbing guru on it, so I just walked up to the owners and asked if I could do it!

How did you connect with Chad W. Beckerman and how long after did he become your agent?

I was very lucky to have Chad approach me. He found me via the Society of Illustrators student scholarship competition in which one of my pieces (“Fungi Foragers Festival”—the piece that started my mushroom love) had gotten an award. We spoke via zoom and decided to move forward together. About a week later, I signed the contract and it was official.

Have you done any illustrations for books?

Nothing published yet, but I currently have a few things in the works and up my sleeve…

Have you done any illustrating for children’s Magazines or any other magazines? If so, who?

I am currently working on a piece for a children’s magazine that will be published in the fall (I cannot say who yet, but stick with me until November and you’ll see!) Additionally, I did some illustration for a spread in Ringling’s CONTXT magazine.

Do you have a studio in your house?

I do! Technically, my studio is…well, a studio! I just moved into a studio apartment in Downtown Greenville, SC. My “studio space” is a corner of my apartment that is soon going to be overgrowing with plants and adorned with botanical prints and photos of misty forests and cabins. A naked edison bulb hangs above me, and there is almost always a pine-scented candle burning. I have a shelf that holds all of my shipping materials and shop stock. I am trying to keep in the habit of having a few fresh cut flowers in a jar on my desk every week. There is permanently a cup of tea or coffee within reach.

Have you ever tried illustrating a wordless picture book?

Not yet, but that interests me greatly.

I see you do commission work. How did this start and how do you find that type of work?

I started fairly young, maybe when I was in sixth grade or so. It started when I first had any sort of online platform to share my work and connect with an audience. To this day, this is still where my commission clients come from.

Do you work full time as an illustrator?

I do! As of graduation back in May 2020.

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you would consider?

Absolutely, I think it’s awesome to work with someone who has a fire in their heart for their own story, which provides me with a clearer vision for what the artwork could look like.

I know you will have many successes in your future, but what do you think is your biggest success so far?

I think it is a three way tie between: Being awarded as the 2019 Society of Illustrators Zankel scholar, being chosen by the Ringling College Library Association to be Shaq’s portrait artist for a talk he gave at a lecture series in Sarasota (in which I got to meet him and present him with the portrait…currently it hangs in his home office which has been on various talk shows!), and starting/sustaining my own business which bloomed from my heart and hard work.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Every new thing I try I end up getting really interested in. Right now my go-to technique is using watercolor, gouache and colored pencil with digital touch-ups.

Has that changed over time?

It is constantly evolving. I want to try anything and everything!

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

I have used a Wacom tablet, a Huion screen tablet and an ipad. The ipad is by far my favorite tool.

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

This could be an endless list if I did not limit it to the tools I am currently using. Graphite, paint pens, gel pens, watercolor sets (both big and small, for travel purposes), gouache, charcoal pencils, sumi ink, screen tone, brushes for all sorts of things (my favorite is splattering). I usually work on Bristol or watercolor paper.

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

“At least a little every day” is what I tell myself. Obviously, I must create for my living to pay the bills, but I have promised myself to make time for my individual craft. Just creating for the sake of it, or practice. Because I like schedules I try to work between the hours of 11 AM-8 PM on my work days with small breaks in between.

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

Almost always. Pinterest has been an increasingly useful tool, as well as the library. I take photos for inspiration depending on what the project is.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I wish you could see me rapidly nodding my head right now. This is a huge yes from me. I believe that 90% of my success in my artistic career has come from the internet in some way, shape or form. From a very young age, it started with exposure, and then turned into an outlet, which has lead to a self-driven career and income.

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

I want to someday make art that is displayed large-scale in a high-traffic area. I love interactive installation art, so for me the ultimate dream would be to have my art be turned into a playground or environment that people can experience.

What are you working on now?

I think I might have already given two of these away above, but to reiterate I am working on a book cover, magazine page, and soon hopefully I will be working on an illustrated textbook for children about mushrooms with a mycologist. Additionally, among running my shop and planning exciting updates, I am painting a window of a restaurant here in downtown Greenville!

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us?

Sure, here’s an amalgamation of tidbits I’d like to share:

-Before I begin my work I love to tone my paper with watercolor in a light coffee hue. After that is completely dry I splatter on some black acrylic with a very fine, dry flat brush (using my thumb to kind of scrub the bristles) to give the paper some “noise”.

-If I was being robbed on the street and had my entire bag of art supplies with me, I would say “ANYTHING BUT THE KOI WATERCOLOR POCKET FIELD SKETCH BOX”! It is my go-to tiny watercolor set that I can use anywhere and everywhere with a water brush. I took it on the Appalachian trail with me when I was backpacking.

-Handbook brand sketchbooks have been my favorite ones so far, and they offer a few unique sizes.

-Adding a little bit of brown ink into my black has elevated how my monotone work looks and gives it that warm, natural vintage feeling.

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

Yes, I have two pieces of advice that might be fairly unconventional, but I believe them to be so important: First, nobody “knows what they are doing”. I have been asked by high school-level art students and sometimes my fellow Ringling underclassmen “how did you figure it out?”, as if there is a way of knowing whether you’ve got it figured out or not. I think I speak for a lot of art professionals when I say I don’t truly know what I’m doing. I take every day as it comes, I do my research, I work as hard as I can, I have fun, I save my money and I hope it all works out. If I look like I have it all together, chances are I don’t. There was never a moment when I thought “yeah, this is all going exactly according to plan! I’ve done it!” Hahaha!

My second word of advice is that you must live your life outside of your art in order to have a flourishing and creative mind. George Pratt, who was one of my instructors and someone I’m happy to call a friend of mine, had a message for his students: “You should always want to be drawing”. Because George is my friend, and someone I respect, I’m happy to challenge him (he wouldn’t be surprised) on this. When he says this, I know what he means: An artist should always desire to be creating and improving. But when I was a teaching assistant at Ringling precollege, some students came running into the classroom with tears in their eyes saying “Jamie, I don’t think I’m a real artist because I don’t want to be drawing all the time”. This panic resonated with me. I am that high school student, with tears in my eyes. I don’t want to be drawing all the time. I want to be exercising, or hiking, or foraging, or spending time with my friends, or watching my favorite show, or playing my favorite game. Sometimes, I don’t even want to think about my art for a couple days straight. I believe that while practicing is important, living your life in itself acts as a practice to improve your art. Without any outside inspiration, your think tank, and more specifically your heart empties. My experiences have greatly shaped and improved my art. It is valuable to take time away from illustrating to live life.

Thank you, Jamie for letting me interview you and sharing your expertise with us. Please let me know your future successes so I can share it with everyone.

To see more of Jamie’s work, you can visit her at:



Artist Agency:

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This is a wonderful collection! I love the nature themes and the sprinkles of fantasy. Best wishes!


  2. Beautiful. I particularly like all the mushroom paintings. Thanks for the post.


  3. Incredible work– And really appreciate your advice, Jamie! THANK YOU, and thanks so much for this great interview!


  4. Jamie is so wise beyond her years and I love her work!


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