Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 26, 2020

Illustrator Saturday – ASA Gilland

Asa Gilland is a Swedish illustrator and surface designer living in Jakarta, Indonesia. Her thematic works are influenced by Scandinavian and Indonesian folk arts.

Åsa loves all things retro, quirky imagery and folk art themes. She studied interior design at Accademia Italiana Moda and has 20 years of experience in surface design and illustration. She produces art for stationary, textiles, home decor and the gift market. Now she has added children’s picture books to her list of successes.

Here is discussing her process with FLIBBERTIGIBBETY WORDS:

Interview with Asa Gilland

How long have you been illustrating?

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I worked in graphic design taking on illustration jobs on the side for many years and the move into illustrating fulltime has been gradual over the past 10 years.

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

It was an ink drawing for a market-day poster in my hometown when I was about 15-16 years old.


What inspired you to attend Accademia Italiana – Arte Moda & Design

I had attended a special fine arts high school and wanted to continue with something design related. I was also very excited over the opportunity to live and study in Italy.

What did you study?

I was in the interior design program. It was a struggle in the beginning since I didn’t speak a word of Italian but a great experience at a young age to have to adapt and find a way to manage.

Do you feel school helped you develop your style?

Honestly that came much later with experience and an abundance of trial and error. Style is something that evolves and I feel like it’s still changing. I think that’s a good thing not to stagnate as an illustrator.

Not counting school, have you always lived in Indonesia Jakarta?

I ‘m originally from Sweden and after high school I moved around Europe studying and/or working to get by. I lived in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Norway and the UK. I did the last year of a Marketing BBA in in London where I met my Indonesian husband, which is how I ended up in Jakarta 25 years ago.

Did the school help you find work when you graduated?

I took an MBA when I arrived in Indonesia and was recruited straight after by a large local company. I remained with their in-house creative department for almost 10 years as a designer.

I noticed that you created an animated .gif of one of your illustrations. Did you take any classes on animation?

I have made some clumsy attempts at creating animations but I think the one you mean is the work of young talented animator Natasha Dewitz (, who created some beautiful gifs from mine and other Lilla Rogers artists work.

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

I was a graphic designer and specialized in packaging design work as well as creating illustrations and patterns for various products.

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

Basically since I can remember. I’ve always been fascinated with creating characters, depicting emotions and relationships my whole life. I love how a picture book communicates in equal parts with words and visuals. I like to think that a child who is not yet able to read for themselves could still be able to tell a story just from images.

Did you take any children’s illustrating courses?

I took several of Lilla Rogers’ courses and my absolute favorite was the children’s book illustration course . It was a great foundation to prepare for my first book projects. It’s also fun to be in these classes because of the sense of community and the opportunity to connect with other artists and illustrators.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate a book?

I’d love to write and illustrate my own story some day, I have a few ideas that I am planning to try to put together once I have some space in my schedule.

Was The Perfect Shelter by Clare Helen Welsh and published by Kane Miller Jan 2020 your first illustrated picture book?

Yes, it was my first work on a children’s book and it was such a privilege to get to illustrate Clare Helen Welsh’s touching and beautiful script.

How did you get that contract?

I received the offer through my agent Lilla Rogers Studio who I had just recently signed with and fell in love with the script instantly.

How did you contract with your agent Lilla Rogers? How long have you been with them?

I joined the Global Talent Search competition held by Lilla Rogers in the summer of 2018. It was a couple of months after my father had passed away suddenly and I was struggling to get some kind of creative spark back. I ended up being one of the lucky special studio awards winners being taken on as new artists and 2018 ended on a higher note than it began.

I discovered your wonderful art when I featured Flibbertigibbety Words: Young Shakespeare Chases Inspiration. How long did Page Street Kids give you to illustrate that book?

Between sketches and final artwork it was about six months with some additional time for smaller edits.

You have another book coming out the end of October, titled, This Is Our World: From Alaska to the Amazon from MacMillian. Were you done illustrating Flibbertigibbety Words when you started illustrating this book?

No, they overlapped with about three months as I was still working on the final art of Flibbertigibbety Words when I began This is Our World.

It looks like your are starting out the new year in a good way with four books from Double Day Books for Young Readers in January 2021- Welcome to Arizona – Florida – Texas – California. Do you expect to illustrate more states?

Yes, I was working on the first four books in the Welcome to-series at the same time as Flibbertygibbety Words and This is Our World, it was a fun but busy year. There will be at least two additional Welcome to– books coming later in 2021 that we have already finished working on; Welcome to Maine and Welcome to Colorado. I hope there will be more states coming in the future, they were a delight to work on.

How many books have you illustrated?

So far it has been nine children’s books and Girls Running by Elizabeth Carey and Melody Fairchild, VeloPress, nonfiction aimed at young adults runners.

Have you done any illustrations for a children’s magazine?

I have done a fun job for an article in Scoop Magazine.

Do you sell any of your art to the public?

I do take on some personal projects when time allows or if it’s something close to my heart.

Here is the link to Asa’s shop: Asa Gilland Shop | Redbubble 

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

It really depends on the type of project and the experience the author might have in previously publishing their work.

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

Definitely being able to illustrate children’s books full time and to make a living from doing what I love. For many years I had a “day job”, which was fun because I had an office life but I am really grateful that I can concentrate on the illustration work now.

What is your favorite medium to use?

For practical reasons I work almost exclusively on my tablet and computer but I do have a soft spot for ink and pencil.

Has that changed over time?

Absolutely, I used to paint in oil for many years, I just love the smell off linseed and turpentine. I think it’s great to be open to different medium and think whatever makes you feel good and gets you where you want to go is great whether it is digital or traditional.

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

I use an iPad Pro and I love the versatility of drawing on a tablet. It’s quick and editable and I can move images straight to the computer without having to scan and clean up work as I would have with traditional medium.

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

I scan in hand-drawn or painted textures that I will layer in photoshop and use with digitally created images.

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

I usually have a very detailed schedule of things I want to complete by the end of each day to reach deadlines.

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

I love doing research but try to schedule it and limit my time to collect inspiration. I might take pictures of different body poses to work them out or find reference pictures on line.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely, it has been a great way to get work seen, something that would have been very hard before the internet.

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

I feel like I am in the middle of them right now. One thing I’d like to do is try to pitch one of my own stories one day.

What are you working on now?

I am working on illustrating two really fun children’s books that will both be launched in 2021. I’m sorry if I can’t share any details yet.

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.

I have a Paperlike texture screen protector on my iPad that I love. The texture has a grip that gives the feeling of drawing on paper. I order it online and it’s shipped worldwide from:

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

For most of us a career doesn’t appear overnight and it can take a lot of time, adaptability and perseverance to build it.

If you have inquiries, wish to collaborate, are interested in licensing or commissioning art, please get in touch with my agent, Lilla Rogers at:

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

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





You can contact Asa directly at:

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Just beautiful! I am enchanted.


  2. Love the vintage look and the detailed art! They bring feelings of nostalgia and delight. One could stare for hours into them and still find something new! Thanks so much for sharing with us! 🙂


  3. Oh wow – love your style! They’re so vibrant and animated and CUTE! Congrats!


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