Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 18, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Maithili Joshi

Maithili Joshi is a South Asian illustrator based in New York. Drawing primarily from her personal experiences and her South Asian upbringing, Maithili works with a combination of pencil, watercolor and digital mediums.

She is open to picture book, editorial and cover projects! In 2020, Maithili published two children’s books with Tulika Publishers, India. Find ‘ What Makes Me Me ‘ and ‘ Anya and her Baby Brother.’. Maithili is also is an art/design intern at Macmillan Publishers, USA, working with the MCPG team.

Awards and Recognition

  • The Rhodes Family Award for Outstanding Students, School of Visual Arts, 2022

  • Alumni Scholarship Award, School of Visual Arts, 2022

  • Illustrators 60 , Society of Illustrators, LA, 2022

  • Society Of Illustrators Student Scholarship Award, 2021, 2022

  • Shortlist- Illustration Awards, Communication Arts, 2022

  • Gilbert Stone Scholarship Award, 2021-2022

  • SVA Academic High Term Honors Status, 2020-2022

  • SVA Silas Rhodes Scholarship Award, 2019-2022

  • NIFT All India Rank 1, 2017

Here is Maithili showing her process:


I start with a rough sketch.

I’ll have a sketch that I finalise on.

Once I am happy with the rough sketch I finalize the sketch.

I’ll make a solid line drawing and lay out the framework on my canvas. I’ll then mix and match colors separately to see how the mood of the image feels as a whole.


The next step in my process is to start laying down the bases of each of the colors and build on the layers digitally for gradients and textures to start standing out. I also like to go in and use line hatching to create shadows. I particularly enjoy drawing wispy soft hair, one line at a time.

I start exporting it to either my phone or my laptop to get an idea of how it looks on different screens, both smaller and larger and work around the observations I make to bring the image to a finish.


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating since I was very young, but professionally for just about a year now!

What was the first thing you did where they paid you for your art?

I was asked to illustrate an article about Malagasy fishers last year, which appeared in Current Conservation magazine.

Did your parents check out SVA and suggest you apply to SVA?

No they did not. My parents trusted me with presenting my college research and options. It was great that we all were thrilled about SVA.

What are your favorite classes at SVA?

Some of my most interesting classes at SVA have been thesis classes with Thomas Woodruff, Yuko Shimizu and Marcos Chin. I also enjoyed technique classes with Jonathan Bartlett, Peter McCarty and Steve Brodner. All very inspiring people who’re brilliant at what they do!

Since your parents live in the United States, do you think you will stay when you finish up at SVA in New York?

Absolutely, I think there’s so many interesting and inspiring people to meet in the industry, I also enjoy the energy of the city.

How did Tulika Books find you to illustrate What Makes Me Me?

What Makes Me Me is published by Tulika Books, a publisher based in India. They found my work a good fit for the book after I illustrated ‘Anya and Her Baby Brother’ with them and asked me if I was interested in one more book.

How long did it take you to illustrate the 11 titles with Storyweaver?

Storyweaver is an NGO run by Pratham Books in India. They had me illustrate eleven e-book titles over a span of 5-6 months! Since they were E-books tailor made for their website, there was no endpapers, jackets or title pages involved. I had initially been asked for fewer titles, but since I finished them earlier than expected, I was asked to interested in more.

Is it hard to illustrate 12 books while going for your degree in art?

The 12 e-book titles I made were over the span of summer and fall semesters before junior year. The e-book illustration process for storyweaver is meant to be quick and doesn’t involve no endpapers, jackets or title pages. It was definitely a tight schedule, but I had a great time working on them over summer.

Is Prathamn Storyweaver a publisher in India?

Yes! They’re great.

Have you tried to find an agent in the US? Would you like to get an agent?

After I started working at Macmillan, a part of my job was to find artists through agents for our book covers. I came across agencies like CAT, Bright and some more and started doing some research. I was reached out by some agents and CAT stood out to me the most!

How did you connect with Chad Beckerman at the Cat Agency and how long have you been with them?”

I’ve been with Chad for a little less than a month, I signed with the CAT agency just when I was nearing graduation. Chad and I connected over social media, I’d always loved the artists CAT represented. We started chatting and got to know each other early in the spring and are now setting up shop.

I looked at your black and white drawings for Inkoctober. I Love them. A lot of publishers look for Black and white drawings. Do you plan to use them in your portfolio?

Absolutely, I think they’d make for great interiors and I plan on incorporating them in my work moving forward.

Do you plan on adding color to any of your B&W work?

Absolutely, I think they’d make for great interiors and I plan on incorporating them in my work moving forward.

What type of things do you do that get your work seen?

Instagram! I regularly post my work on social media, which has a great network of art directors, authors, designers and editors. I also send out promotional emails every now and then to people I’m interested in working with.

I see you have done some animation. Do you think you will do more?

Possibly not. I was a big fan during college but I find that I am not quite as good at it as I hoped I’d be- haha. I plan on keeping that side a hobby.


You mentioned that you created an illustration title Jailhouse Rock while listening to Elvis Presley’s ‘Jailhouse Rock’. Has music inspired you with other illustrations?

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

Absolutely! Fingers crossed and hope all goes well with the ideas I currently have.

What do you think was your biggest success?

As of now, probably graduating School of Visual Arts and having exciting projects coming, which happened less than a month ago.

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Absolutely. I collect pictures and photographs in a folder to reference from as I go.

Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

I’m a procreate girl.

Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

I use procreate on the iPad.

Would you be willing to work with a self-publisher picture book writer on a project?

Sure! If the story is interesting, I’d love to illustrate.

Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

I illustrated for Current Conservation, an Indian magazine, hoping for more editorial projects along the side as we go.

Do you have a studio in your house?

I have a nice desk set up which I keep switching from being my 9-5 job and my illustration job! But I’ve got everything I need in one place, which I love.

Is there anything in your studio, other than paint and brushes that you couldn’t live without?

A giant sketchbook of course, a bright blue colored pencil, my iPad, headphones and picture books.

Do you follow any type of routine to attain your career goals?

I like to be up early in the morning since I’m most productive before 5pm. I’ll make a list of the smallest to the biggest tasks and keep checking them off as the day goes. It feels like little victories.

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

You’ll definitely see them soon!

Do you think the Internet has opened any doors for you?

Absolutely. Instagram, email, websites are all extremely helpful for promotion but also a great way to find, connect and be inspired by so many fellow artists.

What are your career goals?

At the moment, since I like to go one at a time, write, illustrate and have published a picture book with an idea I’ve had for some time.


What are you working on now?

A few picture books in the pipeline and some editorial bubbling.

Are there any painting tips (materials, paper, etc.) you can share that work well for you? Technique tips?

See my blog, illustration fixation.

I like to work big, stand up and use my shoulder to draw/ paint. After that it’s all going with the flow, as long as it’s fun! But one tip- colored ink over watercolor is never a bad idea.

Any words of wisdom you can share with the illustrators who are trying to develop their career?

We’re all feeling the same feelings as you are.

Maithili, 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 Maithili using the following links:






Talk tomorrow,


Here’s her Instagram – @maithiliart

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