Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 18, 2021

Illustrator Saturday – SHAUNA LYNN PANCZYSZYN

SHAUNA LYNN PANCZYSZYN (PAN-CHEZ-EN) is a lettering artist and illustrator with a passion for cold brew, wine, and figure skating, located in the Chicago area where she works out of her home studio with her studio pup, Teddy Bear. She’s been working professionally since 2010 and has worked with clients such as Dear Evan Hansen, Adobe, Facebook, and many others. In her free time you can find her at the local ice rink skating, drinking chai lattes in the local coffee shop, snuggling her dog, or obsessively playing her switch (animal crossing and Splatoon 2 are her go-to’s). Shauna Lynn has been drawing since she could hold a pencil and created her first mural on her parent’s condo wall at the age of 3. Through the years her parents helped foster her love of illustration, and after a short detour where she went to the University of North Florida to study Opera, she switched over the graphic design, and then post-graduation she finally settled into illustration. She is very excited to be a part of the CAT Agency family.


Dear Evan Hansen, Samsung, Facebook, Prudential, Seventeen Magazine, The Knot, Microsoft, Adobe, HarperCollins Publishing, Publix, Playtex, Maidenform, Hanes, Fortune Magazine, International Delight, Wall Street Journal, 3M Post-it Brand®, BJ’s Supermarket, Walter Foster Publishing, Random House, Scholastic USA, American Greetings


I started out this piece with a really rough sketch, knowing I wanted it to fit my artist database profile for Lightbox Expo. So the composition was kept really loose, and I drew the children separately and popped them in after I refined them.

From there I cleaned up the sketch a bit more, got a little more detailed and then began blocking in color. This is where I like to solidify my color palette because once I start throwing in details and textures, it gets more tedious to change color at that point. Little things will get changed as I add in color just to make things work a little more harmoniously, but where I was here, I was pretty happy with the color choices. I wanted it to scream autumn.

I feel like this step is a little bit like the How to Draw and Owl meme… “Draw some circles. Draw the rest of the f*cking owl”, but at this stage it was adding all the little details and textures and playing with adjusting colors as needed. I kept some areas flat with just line details and others I added texture under the line details. To finish it off, I added leaves on the ground, trees in the distance and added some mounds to the hills in the back so it looked like there were trees in the distance. I also added some lettering that can either sit there or be taken out and not hurt the composition.


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil, but I really started focusing my illustration work instead of focusing lettering work about 3-4 years ago and more recently just in the last year and a half (aka the pandemic times).

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

That’s… that’s a great question. I am sure I did things in my late teens/early twenties, and it’s probably something commissioned by my best friend. But my first paid freelance illustration was in October 2011 for OC Weekly and I got to do a cover illustration where I drew lettering and such around Dita Von Teese.

You mention that you graduated from college in 2010, but you didn’t say where. What school did you attend and what did you study? Is this where you perfected your lettering skills?

I graduated from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, with a bachelors in fine art with a concentration in graphic design and a minor in painting, drawing, and printmaking (that was one combined minor that they added just before I graduated and a bunch of us declared it; they weren’t going to let me until they saw I had enough art classes in my records so my major and minor didn’t overlap and I only had one art history to take to fulfill the minor). I did some lettering in college as well as growing up, but I didn’t truly focus on it until 2011. I went to UNF because I had earned a scholarship to a state university and it was the only one that wasn’t focused around football. It also was located on a nature preserve area, so lots of trees and such.

What did you do once you graduated from college?

Just before I graduated, I secured an internship at Brunet-García in Jacksonville, Florida. I was an intern there for six months, and then they kept me as a freelancer for a short while afterwards until I was hired at Body Central as a junior graphic designer. While at BG, I had the opportunity to illustrate lettering for a poster (The World of Foote), which they submitted to Communication Arts and credited me as the illustrator. It was accepted into CommArts Type Annual 2 and that helped launch my freelance career, especially because when people would reach out to them for lettering work, they’d point them to me.

Did college help you find work when you graduated?

It didn’t help me find work per say (though I do believe others may have), but my web professor knew I was looking for an internship and forwarded the Brunet-García one to me and that was a huge blessing. He said “I think you’d be a really good fit there.” 

How many Calendars did you do with Circle Studios?

I only illustrated one, but they have the source files so they’ve renewed it I think 3 times and changed the colors each year. I just get a royalty payment at the beginning of each year if they do.

How did that opportunity come your way?

I reached out to them on their contact form. Then the job had to go through my agent at the time. I still get quarterly royalties from the calendar sales, and that agent still gets a cut, so I’m only making about $20 a quarter now, haha. It supports my coffee habit.

What type of work did you do once you do before working as a freelance illustrator?

I had plans to work up to creative director for an agency, but I got fired from an agency I moved to Orlando for, so I jumped head first into freelance illustration and it’s been the best path for me. I’m significantly happier and realized I don’t work well on a 9-5 schedule. I do well on an 8-11 and 3-6 schedule with a break at lunch time to go ice skating, even if that doesn’t happen every day. Currently I’m just trying to make it there 3 times a week for at least an hour and a half when I can swing it. I’m only 2 months back in from an ankle injury so it’s been slow going while I build strength back up. I did, though, work as a Learn to Skate coach during those times as well, so while it didn’t really supplement my income, it did give me free ice time and that was worth it. Kinda tangented, but eh, haha.

Was Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers the first book you illustrated?

Gonna be honest, I barely remember this job. I know it was not the first book that I illustrated. I believe my first professional one was a cover for “Secret of a Heartnote” from Harper Collins Publishing.

Twenty-First Century Books ™ published the book on January 1, 2018. How did you connect with them to get this job?

When I was represented by my former agents, the project came through there. I just went to look through my files, and back then it was through Lerner Publishing Group and they hired me in June 2017 to create the cover. 

Fandom is 120 pages. How many illustrations did you do for the book?

Just the cover. 

How long did it take you to illustrate this book? How did you get that job?

I honestly cannot remember, it was maybe a 4 week turnaround. They wanted me to create the cover and that was it. 🙂 Edit: Just confirmed, I sent sketches on April 21, 2017, the final was sent on June 16, 2017. So more like a 5ish week turnaround.

You mention you use Photoshop and Adobe Fresco. What does fresco do that you can’t do using Photoshop?

I can use Fresco on the iPad. Photoshop on the iPad is more focused on photo editing whereas Fresco was made to be a drawing program. I’m able to use my own brushes in the program and my files sync to Adobe Creative Cloud, so I can jump between Photoshop and Fresco as I work.Have you illustrated any other book or cover?

I’ve done a few covers; Secret of a Heart Note and Fandom. Shortly after the Pulse shooting in Orlando, several Orlando artists came together to donate art to a book that was written about the aftermath and how to handle it with children called Mi Tio’s Pulse. Last year I had the opportunity to collaborate with DC Comics and create the logotype for their Arkhamaniacs series by Art Balthazar and Franco, which was a really fun, really awesome experience. 

How did you connect with Chad Beckerman at The Cat Agency?                      

I met Chad several years back when I was in NYC for the first Typographics conference. I was meeting up with a friend who was an art director at Abram’s Kids and she introduced me to Chad who was the Creative Director at the time. Over the years I made the switch from lettering to a mix of lettering and illustration with the goal of working in kid lit at some point. I saw Chad was an agent at The CAT Agency earlier in 2020, and I reached out to Chad in October 2020 and we set up a time to chat. At the time it was a “not right now but work on a, b, and c, and then let’s touch base.” During the following few months, I hyper fixated on getting more comfortable with character work and scenes, and in early February reached out with a PDF of everything I’d done since we talked in October. He wrote back and said “This is excellent” and said he would love to represent me. So I signed the contract that day and popped a bottle of champagne with my family.           

Do you want to illustrate a children’s book?

Very much.                     

How many picture books have you illustrated?

Currently working on my first one ever. 

What do you feel helped develop your style? 

Constant practice and experimenting. I have a bad habit of not stopping work (find your work/life balance, kids!). I tend to spend my evenings drawing and trying new things so I often have to force myself to put my iPad down and play a video game. This has been how I am for years though, I get to do what I love for work, but it’s also what I love to do no matter what.

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

Sure do! I have a bunch of ideas, but have to narrow down one to focus on, though hoping to get working on that soon.

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book? 

Sounds like a fun challenge I would like to try, but no, I have never tried that before.

Have you illustrated anything for children’s magazines? 

The closest I’ve managed to get to children’s magazines is Seventeen and Brio Magazine. Two very different magazines with two very different audiences. Though I’d love to illustrate for American Girl, Highlights, Kazoo, and Bravery Mag. 

Do you have studio in your house? 

My studio is half of my bedroom at this time. I’m living in my parents’ basement apartment so the room I’m in functions as the studio, too, though I overtake the living room down here in the evenings. Prior to this, I lived in Orlando, and my studio was in what was supposed to be the dining room in the apartment. It was nice because there was a half wall that separated the living room from that area so when I was done with work for the day, I was able to step away and feel like I was away from my work.

Do you ever exhibit your artwork?

Yup! I’ve been fortunate to be a regular participant in Light Grey Art Lab shows and more recently in Gallery1988 shows.


Have you written or illustrated for any children’s magazines?

I have not, though I would love to at some point.

How long have you been work full time as an illustrator?

Since February 2013, so around 8 years now.

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

If the project feels right, yes.

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

Chad agreeing to represent me. Seriously though, the fact that I get to do what I love to do every day, that’s enough for me. But if we need something tangible? Speaking at Adobe MAX last year.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Digital brushes, I make my own for Photoshop and Procreate ( and I have them honed in on the perfect amount of crunchiness that I enjoy.

Has that changed over time? 

I used to do my sketches on paper in colored pencil and would scan them in. Then I got an iPad and that’s been my main mode of sketching. Though I’ve never done traditional mediums for clients, as it is much easier to make edits when it’s on layers and digital. I was known early on for chalk lettering that looked like real chalk but I was able to achieve it in Photoshop.

What type of Graphic Drawing Tablet do you use when illustrating?

iPad Pro 3rd gen 12.9” and a Wacom Cintiq 24”. 

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

I end up drawing pretty much every day. It’s rare to find me without my tablet in tow. There’s no specific amount of time, but if I’m working I try to set aside an hour or so just to do personal drawing and get my hands warmed up because my hands literally get cold very easily if they’re not moving constantly.

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

I try to do some research as needed, but I try to work from what is in my head first. In cases like a recent promo The CAT Agency did, I chose Mary Blair as my subject and dove headfirst into research about her and her work, so in cases like that I absolutely will. Personal work where I’m just drawing for fun, I try not to use a reference until I’ve tried to draw whatever I’m trying to draw.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Absolutely. When I graduated in late 2010, it was still the age of postcards and getting into annuals to get noticed. Instagram changed that. For the better? Not entirely sure. But I have had clients find me through Instagram and Twitter just by putting it out there that I was available for work. Due to the fact that I post a lot of personal work, I have had that work against me with potential clients thinking I was unavailable for work, so I try to share on social media that I am open and available for work so there’s no assumptions.

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

Write and illustrate my own children’s book (multiple honestly). Illustrate a book with my mom (she has an idea for one, I’m the hands) and get it published. Create artwork for Disney’s WonderGround Gallery. Work on a Little Golden Book.

What are you working on now?

A new promo for CAT, two online courses, and custom vinyls for my cousin’s wedding, new cards for Postable, and new prints and stickers for my Etsy shop.

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.

If you’re using an iPad Pro, I highly recommend putting an anti glare screen protector on, you can find them on amazon in a pack of 2-3 for about $9. I hate the feeling of drawing on glass and the protector gives it just a bit of grip. I’ve also heard good things about Paperlike brand screens. 

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators on ow to find clients or an agent?

Put the kind of work out there that you want to get hired for, and don’t be afraid to try new things, even if it doesn’t work. Always be open to learning. Clients will hire you for the kind of work you make, and if you’re putting things out there that you don’t want to do, then you’re not going to be happy getting hired for them.

Shauna Lynn, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and showing us your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Shauna Lynn using the following links:





Talk tomorrow,



  1. I love your work, Shauna! I’m particularly impressed by the colors and fonts you use for text in your art. I’m a former Chicago native and have also spent time inside many ice rinks over the years as the mother of a hockey player and a precision team skater. Thanks for sharing so much about your beautiful work.


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