Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 26, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Sara Ugolotti

Sara Ugolotti was born in 1988 near Reggio Emilia, in the north of Italy. Since she was a child she have loved drawing. In 2012 she obtained a bachelors degree in Architecture at the University of Parma. In 2015 she took a three years degree in Illustration at the International School of Comics in Reggio Emilia with excellent results. Sara loves to draw and paint using different techniques but she mainly works digitally. She has collaborated on projects for magazines, children’s books and children’s cartoon animations.

Currently Sara works as an illustrator in a collective of creative freelancers and works now as a freelance illustrator specializing in Childrn’s books and working with clients worldwide. She’s been awarded in many Illustration competitions and her illustrations have been selected for exhibitions in Italy, Holland, Germany, Belgium, UK, China and Japan. She currently lives and work in Parma with my boyfriend and her french bulldog Murphy.


I feel immediately super excited for this picture book right after reading the manuscript for the first time! I knew it was the right story to illustrated with my style and had no doubt in accepting the job.

I started by sketching two main characters, Luna and Poppa and had clear ideas about how they should be. Also the publisher and author gave me some freedom.

While the team was approving the characters I worked on doodling the 32 pages and submitted to the team the whole storyboard in thumbnails.

A scene from the storybaord thumbnail looks like this, with some notes/comment of mine:

This particular spread was developed to final art before all the others and used as a test for the whole book. The team of Page Street Kids liked a lot the thumbnails, and asked me to finalize the sketch, and this is what looks like:

They then asked me to proceed to final art and i usually start with the background:

then i add the natural bg elements, in this case trees and bushes (the forest):

I then added the characters and the animals from the forest:

and so this is the final art, with the final touch of all the glittering moon shards, stars and magic!


How long have you been illustrating?

I’ve been illustrating since I was a little child and my best client was my Granpa as he loved to collect all my drawings, but I can consider myself a professional illustrator only after my graduation.

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

My very first commission was for an Italian magazine which shared an article about relationships between grandchildren and grandparents.

You were born and raised in Northern Italy. Do you still live in that area?

Yes, I’ve always lived here.

When did you learn English?

I started learning English since the primary school and then I continued to study it throughout my school and college career.

Why did you decide to attend the University of Parma to get BA degree in architecture in 2012?

I had graduated from high school in scientific studies and I had clear ideas about what I would like to do after, looking for something that would give me the freedom to create. Architecture seemed to me the right solution because it seemed to me that it could combine creativity with my scientific knowledge and that there could be good job opportunities in the future.

What made you decide in 2012 to attend the International School of Comics to study Illustration?

I sadly then discovered that I didn’t feel complete with the Architecture world and decided to follow my long-standing desire and complete my ambition to enter into the world of the Illustration.

Is this where you studies animation?

I never studied animation, but just traditional illustration but I did take a small part into an animated TV cartoon as a background artist.

Did you do any freelance illustrating while attending school?

No, just right after that.

Did you physically travel to Holland, UK, China and Japan to exhibit your artwork?

I did travel to Holland to get my prize after winning an Illustrations contest held by the Publishing House Leemniscaat. I then won other Illustration prizes but I sadly did not travel physically to those places

How did you find competitions to exhibit your art?

I paid attention to online websites and facebook pages which promoted those illustration competitions. I was also invited to submit my work to the Leemniscaat’s illustration competiton “Picture This!”, that I won among other illustrators, after having with them a portfolio review at the Bologna Children’s book Fair.

I am interested in how this collective of freelance illustrators you belong to works. You show nine books on you website. Example: You list Mes tres grands contes et legends de la Suisse published in 2020, which says it was illustrated by two illustrators. How did you decide who did what?

I don’t belong to any collective of illustrators, these books were just illustrated by many other talented artists that were directly selected by the publisher and/or Agency. Sometimes happens that some books, due to the huge amount of work/pages, needs more than one illustrator and these are those cases.

You show another collective book Le Grand Livre des creatures fantastique and show 10 illustrations. Are those illustrations you did for the book? How many illustrator were used to illustrate this book?

Yes, this is another collective book and I’ve done for the publisher 10 illustrations. There were 10 illustrators in total.

Did the International School of Comics steer you on how to find work after you graduated?

Unfortunately most Schools don’t spend enough time teaching how to find work after the studies. Basically you should be lucky enough to meet the right professor who is able to direct you on the good path but it is not in their learning program.

What type of things do you do to promote yourself as an illustrator?

I basically take care of my online website and portfolio on Behance, but I am sadly not a social media addicted as I am still not sure on how much social media play the role in getting you work and it takes for sure lot of effort and energies. On the other side my agency plays an important role in promoting and getting me jobs.

When did you start illustrating for children’s games and puzzles?

I started getting commissions into this sector around 4 years ago

How many books or games did you do before getting representation with Advocate Art?

I have illustrated around 10 among books, collective books and magazines.

When did you sign with Advocate Art and how did you connect with them?

I’ve signed with them around 5 years ago and I enjoyed the agency after a submission.

In April 2020 you illustrated The Girl and the Cathedral: The Story of Notre Dame de Paris by Nicolas Jeter. Was this a self-published book?

It was a kick-starter project

In October 2021 you illustrated My Little Prayer by David Archuleta Was this the first book you illustrated for Bushel & Peck?

No, I have illustrated other books for them before that.

You started out 2022 with Raquela’s Seder by Joel Edward Stein and published by Kar-ben. How long did they give you to do the illustrations?

Around 6 months

A month later Mommy Ever After by Rebecca Fox Starr was published by Familius. I’m looking forward to showing off this book on Writing and Illustrating Annual Holiday Book Extravaganza in December. Were you working on this book while working on Raquela’s Seder?

This book took a bit longer than Raquela’s Seder to publish but yes, I have spent few months working on both titles.

The Little Way: A Journey to the Summit of Love by Judith Bouilloc came out on Apr 17, 2022. Since this book is 80 pages, is it a middle grade book? 

Yes, it is a middle grade book basically but also opened to an adult audience.

How many illustrations did you do for the book?

I did for the book around 8 interior full page illustrations and 8 small vignettes, plus the cover.

In October, When You Open a Book by Caroline Derlatka was published by Bushell and a Peck. Another beautiful book I’m looking forward to showing off this book on Writing and Illustrating Annual Holiday Book Extravaganza in December. Did Bushell and a Peck give you more freedom to do what you wanted?

Yes, it was lovely to work with them and they gave me more freedom than other publishers. They wrote, together with the author, some basic art direction notes but I was then able enough to spread my creativity among the pages.

I just featured on Writing and Illustrating, MENDING THE MOON by Emma Pearl and it is a gorgeous. Just want to point out to everyone that is still open to comments and sharing on social media to win a copy. Did Page Street kids ask you to revise any of your illustrations when you submitted the interior art?

Thank you! It was lovely to work with their team, they revised each step of the book from doodling to final art in consultation with the author too. They gave me some art direction note for each interior spread to start but then left me more freedom to play with those suggestions. They asked me for some changes on the sketches but nothing too relevant as they remained mostly the same at the end. On the final art just a few little requests such as adding the same number of buttons on Poppa coat or adding a window to the house front to make it consistent throughout the book, for example.

On December 8, 2022  USBORNE is publishing, Greek Myths for Little Children by Rosie Dickins. There are 128 pages are 11 stories. Were there multiple illustrators working on this book?

No, I illustrated the entire book.

Also, Amazon lists a French edition of this book, but the illustrations they show are in English. Is this book available in English and French?

Yes, there are several co-editions in Italian, French, German and Spanish

Next year Bushel and Peck are publishing Cylinderella by David Miles, Are you working on that book now?


Would you like to write and illustrate a book?

I have just signed a contract for a classic story re-written and illustrated by me.

Are you open to illustrating a self-published book?

I have never illustrated a self-published book.

What do you think helped develop your your style?

I am not sure how to answer this question because I think that some way is the style that finds you after all. It’s something you should feel comfortable with.

Do you take research pictures before you start a project?

Some publishers give me directly some visuals to refer to and I don’t need to have any research in those cases (unless references are not clear enough). But in most cases I’ll have a look around and collect many reference images to fuel my creativity but I don’t actually use them directly as a model.

Do you try to spend a certain number of hours on illustrating?

I am a full-time illustrator and I work every day, more than 8 hours a day sometimes (but of course with lot of recreation pauses!)

What book do you think was your biggest success?

I really don’t have any so far, but probably the one re-written and illustrated by me when it will come out!

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

I don’t have an actual routine a part from doing a series of paid jobs throughout the year. I think that the most important thing is to choose wisely the project that suits you best and for which you can do your best.

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

Yes, next year there will be out some amazing new books and among them the sequel of “Mending the Moon”, “Saving the Sun” written by Emma Pearl! Also my very first illustrated picture book in Arabic language.

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

Yes, I think it is essential for an illustrator to show its art to the most wide audience possible

What are your career goals?

My goal is to create a character or a book that can enter everyone’s heart and be unforgettable.

What are you working on now?

I can’t talk too much about my current projects but I am illustrating many books which will be out in 2023 and 2024 including a huge collections of animal stories, a Christmas book, a Space Atlas, a book about different kind of homes and a mystic-guide-picture book written by an award winning author in addition to my own classic picture book adaptation. But there are still more on the horizon.

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

See my blog, illustration fixation. I’ve learned illustrating digital by myself and I really have a simple way of coloring and working, I usually use just 2-3 kind of brushes not more. I also use procreate for the sketches as It is so confortable to use!

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

Just believe in yourself and work hard on your goals, create illustrations that can speak direct to the soul will help you to stand out of the crowd.

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

You can visit Sara using the following links:





Talk tomorrow,



  1. What beautiful work! I especially like the cover of Mending the Moon. Thanks for such a gorgeous post.


  2. Lovely illustrations! I see several books I would love to read! Thanks for sharing, Sara!


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