Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 14, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Rebeca Koblick de Leon

Being a mom since 2019 keeps Beca immersed in her toddlers’ world and motivated to illustrate. She loves creating characters inside of warm and narrative compositions full of fun colorful pallets that have inspired her since she was born, back in Mexico where the colors are so warm and bright.

Now based in Marin County, California, Beca gets a lot of her inspiration from the amazing nature that surrounds her. The big red trees, the mountains and the beautiful ocean of the west coast are all part of it. She also loves painting and when she has a big studio she’ll dive into pottery as well. 

Beca loves getting her hands dirty and using traditional media such as gouache, watercolor, pastels and more. In the last couple of years, after becoming a mom, she has explored using digital illustration which has resulted in a lot of enjoyment and exploration as well. One thing she does need to do is always sketch first on a sketchbook before jumping into the screen.

If it’s not time to “work” (which makes her very happy) it’s definitely time to be out with her family searching for new adventures.


With all illustrations I always start by sketching, this jungle illustration shows a rough sketch because I was more free, so I didn’t really go for a more detailed final sketch.

When working with characters I tend to have a cleaner sketch to start coloring. Since these are mainly plans, I felt more free to just leave it like that.

After I select the background color that I am going to work with, then I start applying some base colors to my main elements. Of course I can modify the background color later on if I am not happy with it. Thats the beauty of Digital Illustration!

After I start adding color to what I consider are the secondary elements. I start adding more layers, in front of behind the elements that I already have. I have to be very organized and name my layers so that I know exactly where am I standing when I am coloring. In my opinion having more layers makes it easier to change things up like colors if you’re not convinced.

I continue to add layers and play with colors.

I forgot to mention that before I start with an illustration that is a personal project like this one and doesn’t require an specific palette I do have colors in mind but I do not stick to a limited palette. I really want to learn how to master this better, somehow it makes it challenging for me.

Usually its towards the end that I start adding the little details to the illustration.

I add definition lines and little details.

Here is the final of IN THE JUNGLE: It is not until the end that I add the lights and shadows. This is one of my favorite parts of the whole process. It gets me really excited to see the difference of my art after I add this details that for me certainly add a lot of value.


How long have you been illustrating?

Since I was a kid, I have loved drawing. Its what I would do while waiting in my mom’s office, or the doctor’s office. Whenever my grandpa would pick me up from school, I would draw while he painted.

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

Back in Mexico, an employee of my father’s asked if I could paint a cheesy ocean illustration. With dolphins and fish. I was 15 or 16 years old at the time, so I thought I hit the big time.

What made you decide to attend Querétaro’s UVM to pursue a career in graphic arts?

I decided to pursue a career in graphic design because, at the time, I thought that route was the “safe” choice if I wanted to make money as an artist. It was a practical decision more than anything.

Were you doing freelance art during this time?

Certain graphic design gigs here and there, but nothing really on the artsy side of things.

How did you get the opportunity to study Art and Design at Santa Fe University of Art and Design in New Mexico?

The program in Santa Fe, NM and UVM began a partnership that allowed for students to study at either school. It was cheaper too. So I thought “I’ll get to study in the US and save money? Sign me up!” It kinda came to me more than anything.

Did you need to get a special visa to leave Mexico to study art in Santa Fe?

Yes, I had to get a student visa.

What were your favorite classes at Santa Fe University?

Mixed media and sculpture for sure. I don’t think it wazs just called “painting” but there was a painting class I really enjoyed as well.

What made you want to permanently move from Mexico to the US?

I met my husband while I was working as an au pair back in 2015. It was literally love at first sight because I had to go back to Mx just three weeks after we met, but I knew I had to know him. I came back a few months later. We have a 2½ year old named Santiago and have been happily married for more than 5 years now.

Did you know that you wanted to stay in the US after graduating from SFU?

Unfortunately, I was unable to graduate from SFU because of the 2008 Great Recession. I had to go back home, and finish my degree at UVM.

Did you have to go back to Mexico? Was it hard to get documents to get back to the US?

When I returned to the US, I did so through a program that places au pairs with families. I got matched to a family in Marin County, CA.

It looks like you and your husband decided to combine both of your last names. I am sure other have done that, but you are the first one I have crossed paths with. How did you decide to do that?

We just knew that we wanted to create a new family, to be the first in the lineage. Also, in Mexico, it is tradition to combine both your parents last names. My maiden name is Cubillo Ponce de Leon. Cubillo from my dad, Ponce de Leon from my mom. We wanted to do something similar, and think Koblick de Leon has a good ring to it.

It sounds like your son has been the inspiration for your taking your artistic talent into the Children’s book market or were you interested in going in that direction before he was born?

Even before Santi came along, Children’s illustration is something that always appealed to me, but the impression when I was living in Mexico was that it wasn’t profitable. After seeing what happened to my parent’s business because of the economy in 2009, I wanted to choose a path with the most security.

You have an illustration of a husband, wife an child on your website. At first I thought it must be your family, but the the names are Pato, Tim & José. Was this a commission work?

I wouldn’t say it is a commissioned piece. I made did that one as a gift to my dear friend, Patricia, for her birthday.

I discovered Bea the Friendly Bee on your website. Did you husband Zack write the book?

My husband and I came up with that idea, and we have a story-line, but it is still a project for the future. The near future, hopefully.

Is this something you will be selling in the future?

Hopefully! If publishers are reading this, we are always willing to entertain offers.

I noticed an illustration of a book cover titled Artist of the Harlem Renaissance by Gwendolyn Bennet. Was this a published book or something else like a pamphlet for a festival celebration?

This work was done as a project for a Make Art That Sells course with a focus on Black history. It is just a cover concept. Gwendolyn Bennet was an amazingly talented Artist during the Harlem Renaissance.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you happened to do this Illustration? Why did you add the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s a long way from Harlem, did you add that since you live near the bridge?

I can see how one would think that is the Golden Gate, but it is actually the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. I chose to do the bridge this way because it better fit the color pallet.

I love the cover that you illustrated for The Woman Behind the Bus by Jennie Stevenson. It looks like a picture book, but I can’t find it on Amazon. Was this a self-published book?

This is another piece I did as a project for the Make Art That Sells course I mentioned above. It is not a book, just a cover.

How did you connect with Jennie? Do you expect this book to be available for purchase?

Jennie and Zoe Tucker (whom I noticed is referenced below as an author I’ve collaborated with) were my former teachers from the Make Art That Sells courses I’ve taken over the past couple years. I would LOVE to have the opportunity to collaborate on a professional project in the future, but I did those pieces as assignments from the course.

It looks like you illustrated another book for Jennie Stevenson, titled Gulp the Unwise? This looks thicker than a picture book. Is it for older children?

I wish it was a real book, but this was also part of the Illustrating Children’s Books by Lilla Rogers at Make Art that Sells.

Do you plan to market the book or is the plan to sell it to a publisher?

I definitely would love to illustrate a whole book and not just proposals. I can’t wait to be illustrating my first children’s book.

You have illustrated another very nice cover for The Night Lights by Zoe Tucker. Again, this looks like a picture book that is not available on Amazon. Is this a book that is in development?

This one is also part of that amazing course I was talking about, I really recommend anyone who wants to be a children’s book professional illustrator to take the courses offered by Make Art that Sells, they have changed my life. I would say it was because of what I learned there that I was able to get representation by my agent.

How many books have you illustrated?

So far, I have illustrated one series of educational books for children that are to be used in a classroom setting. I am also currently in the beginning stages of a second project, which I am very excited about, but not sure how much about it I am allowed to discuss.

How did you connect with Nicole at the Tugeau2 Agency. How long have you been with her?

T2 was a top three agency with whom I wanted to work with. When I felt ready, I sent out emails to my top choices. Nicole responded right away. At the time I wasn’t ready to be represented by T2, but she came to me with advice on what to do to make my portfolio more marketable. After loading up my portfolio with more work, like the Make Art That Sells pieces among others, I contacted her again, and she was ready to sign me as an illustrator.

Do you still work on your portfolio?

I am always working on my portfolio. I want it to be a representation of what my current style is, and where I am as a person and an artist. I am constantly adding new work, so keep checking in to see updates!

What do you feel helped develop your style?

I paid attention to how I felt while trying new things. The more I practice, the more I know what makes me feel good. So I decided to do that: what makes me happy while creating art.

Have you illustrated anything for children’s magazines?

Not yet, but I am always open to it.

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

Absolutely, for the right project.

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

That is very kind, and I hope so. My biggest success is being able to my days with my child and work on what makes me passionate every day.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I would say gauche is my favorite medium at the moment.

Has that changed over time?

The medium that I am exploring with changes regularly. I recently went through a watercolor stage as well.

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

I use an iPad Pro 11 with Procreate.

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

I find time when my son is sleeping, or if my husband can take him. He is also in pre-school two days a week which gives me more time as well.

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

Yes, always. I am always taking pictures of colors and shapes, things or flowers or perspectives that inspire me.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Yes, definitely. Social media is so important now to make yourself known. It would be much more difficult to send my work or be seen.

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

I would love to publish Bae the Bee with Zach, my husband. I am always going to love Children’s Book illustration, ut I really want to create my own surface design collection and brand, for clothing and accessories especially. Eventually open my own store.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am just starting on a project for Scholastic. It will be for older kids, but I am not able to share any work yet. It is in the very early stages. I wish I could offer more, I really do.

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 recommend the packages of brushes from “Visual Timmy” My favorite store is Ryley’s Art Supply Store. I love wondering around art stores and get lost.

Any words of wisdom for new illustrators?

I still feel like I am a new illustrator. If I can share anything just starting is to keep working. Just keep building your portfolio no matter what. Take classes. I know it sounds cliché , but just be patient and keep working on something new.

Beca, 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 Beca using the following links:






Talk tomorrow,



  1. So colorful and fun! Thanks for sharing your work, Beca!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful work. The colors are so rich!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. AWEsome ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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