Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 18, 2023

Illustrator Saturday – Abigail Rajunov

Abigail Rajunov is an illustrator from Dallas, Texas. She loves to illustrate cute and quirky subjects with a strong focus on storytelling. She is incredibly passionate about KidLit, comic, and picture book illustration. Her favorite tool to create with is Procreate, but she also loves experimenting with traditional media as well – lately she has been loving colored pencil, gouache, and even riso printing!

Abigail graduated from Ringling College of Art and Design with a B.F.A in Illustration. She has created graphic novel work for the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Ringling College’s annual Meanwhile publication. In her spare time, she loves to cafe doodle in her sketchbook drawing silly characters, whimsical scenes, and emotional moments, and playing guitar. Abigail now resides in Sarasota, Florida.


Thumbnail Sketch: First I loosely sketch out a composition and characters for the illustration. I usually do this digitally so I can move things around easier.

Pencil Drawing: For this piece, I wanted to do the drawing traditionally with a pencil. I printed the sketch and transferred it to a large piece of paper and finished the drawing, focusing mainly on value contrast.

Color the Pencil Drawing: After scanning the pencil drawing, I used Photoshop to color the lines of the pencil. I opted for a pink/purple gradient to give the piece more warmth.

1st Color Layer: I transferred the drawing to Procreate to paint into it. I wanted certain elements to glow, so I placed a yellow gradient on the goose, egg, and stars using transparent multiply layers.

2nd Color Layer: I glazed on a dark blue in the background to establish the time of day and further enhance the glowing effect

3rd Color Layer: Still using transparent multiply layers, I started to add local colors, like the green on the frog and snake and the brown in the trees. I also began to define textures in the goose.

Final Painting: I begin using opaque brush strokes to paint on top of the drawing. I further define textures, shapes, and lighting. After I finish painting in Procreate, I transfer the image back into Photoshop to make final value and color tweaks.


When did you realize that you had a talent for art?

When I was little my best friend and I used to draw Pokemon a lot for fun, and I remember being really proud of how accurately I could make my drawings look like the actual characters!

What was the first thing you created where someone paid for you work?

I believe the first instance I was paid for my art was in high school when my mom commissioned me to paint a portrait of our family dog!

Your website says you grew up in Dallas, Texas, but it sounds like you might be living in Florida. Do you plan to move back?

Yes, I was born and raised in Texas, but I moved to Sarasota for college. I will probably move back to Dallas after graduating, but I would eventually love to live somewhere on the west coast one day!

 In you junior year in Highschool you participated in Early College Program with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then in your senior year you participated in a PreCollege illustration program with Ringling College of Art and Design. Did you do this online?

Both of these programs were in person. They were kind of like art summer camps – I got to live on campus and take art classes! They were both really fun experiences.


Can you tell us a little bit about the precollege Illustration program?

I actually took visual development classes as a precollege student, since I initially wanted to do character design for animation. While I would still love to do character design one day, I realized my passion was illustration instead. Last summer I was able to teach a precollege illustration course though, so I’m glad I got to experience the curriculum that time around!

 Did you attend a special high school that focused on the arts?

Nope! I attended a public high school, but I was very actively involved in my school’s art and music programs (shoutout to Reedy Orchestra!)


Was it your love for comics that lead you forwards wanting to do graphic novels?

I actually started reading manga before reading American comics, which sparked my interest in sequential art. However, it was artists like Jen Wang, Jillian Tamaki, Tillie Walden, and Jo Rioux who made me fall in love with graphic novels. Their styles are so distinctive and illustrative – they’re able to create graphic novels in ways I had never seen before. They are definitely huge inspirations to me!

When did you decide you wanted a career in Illustrating children’s books?

My style definitely influenced my career path. Drawing silly creatures with bright colors came very naturally to me, so children’s books seemed like a no-brainer! I also love books – the whole process of writing, illustrating, and designing books for print is so fun to me. I also love the potential for visual storytelling in children’s books, since it’s so reliant on illustrations, rather than words, to tell a story.


What were your favorite classes?

I really enjoyed my figure drawing and painting classes at Ringling, they helped me loosen up and experiment with different styles. They definitely helped give my art more versatility. It was also really fun to paint and draw with my friends in class – it felt like a sacred time when I could just turn my brain off and just make art.


Do you still play the harp?

I wish I did! But unfortunately, it’s too big/expensive for a college student. It’s definitely a life goal of mine to pick it up again when I settle down!


Did you take any animation classes while in college?

I, unfortunately, did not. Our illustration curriculum was so rigorous that there wasn’t much space for animation. But I would love to learn some 2D animation someday!

 Did you do any freelance work while attending college?

Yes! I would do small paintings for family and friends in between school projects. I also did some graphic novel work for the Smithsonian American Art Museum during my 2nd and 3rd years.


Is anyone at the Ringling College of Art and Design helping you kick off your career after you graduate in 2023?

My children’s book professor, Oliver Dominguez, helped a lot during the process of applying to agencies. His support means a lot to me! My graphic novel professor, Gary Barker, has also been so encouraging of my work and has helped me strengthen my narrative illustration skills.

How did you get the Internship at the Smithsonian American Art Museum · Jun 2022 – Aug 2022?

The internship for the Smithsonian was an extension of the comic project I worked on with them. It was an opportunity for Ringling students to continue working on the publication and advertising for the webcomics we illustrated.

What type of things did you do while at the Smithsonian?

I helped edit and format the comics done by me and the other artists! I also helped create advertisements and social media material.

Did you have to get an apartment in DC?

It was a remote internship, so I was able to stay in Sarasota.

 How are you marketing yourself as a children’s illustrator?

I am very active on social media, and I am working with Aliza at the Cat Agency to help get my name out there!


How and when did you connect with the Aliza Hoover at the Cat Agency?

At the end of 2022, I emailed the agency to ask for representation since a lot of artists I look up to are rep’d by them. Aliza loved my work, and offered to sign me! We just clicked, and I couldn’t ask for a better agent. I was able to meet a lot of the other agents and artists at Cat in NYC last month, and they were so incredibly sweet and welcoming. I am beyond happy to be part of such an amazing group!

You say your favorite tool you use is Procreate. Did you study that in college?

I use Procreate for a lot of my school projects, but it was never formally taught to me. We took Photoshop classes, though, and because the two programs have similar features, Procreate was pretty easy to pick up. I prefer it because it’s so much more convenient and mobile!


Do you use Photoshop with any of your work?

I use Photoshop near the end of my process to fine-tune my colors since it has more editing capabilities than Procreate. But most of my digital art is done 99% with Procreate!

What do you think helped develop your style?

I am super inspired by other illustrators and cartoonists, and they definitely helped me develop my own personal style. Artists like Natalie Andrewson, Jamie Green, and Lisa Hanawalt are especially inspiring! I also don’t try and force a style, I just let myself do whatever comes naturally.

Do you have and use a graphic tablet?

I mainly use my iPad to draw! However, if I need to do anything on Photoshop I use the tablets in the school labs.


Have you done any art exhibits?

I have! My favorite exhibition to be a part of is Ringling’s Illest of Illustration gallery, which features student illustration work juried by a student-elected professional illustrator. It was amazing having my work seen by such incredible artists!

Do you think you will go on to get an MFA?

Maybe! I would love to be a professor later on in my career, so I could see myself pursuing an MFA.

Are there writer and illustrator groups in your area that you can join?

My friends at Ringling are my main illustration support group right now! They are so talented, supportive, and inspiring, and I am so thankful to have met them.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate you own book in the future?

I would LOVE to author-illustrate! I have written and illustrated a picture book before for a school project, but I would love to do more. I am especially interested in writing stories about friendship, nature, and music!

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

Possibly, if I really connect with the material, but right now I am focused on working on manuscripts with a publisher attached or author-illustrating my own work.

Has any of your work appeared in magazines?

I have done a couple of projects for local magazines! I did an illustration for Ringling’s CONTXT Magazine and the Texas Jewish Post. I’d love to do more magazine work!

What do you think was your biggest success?

Receiving the SCBWI Student Illustrator scholarship earlier this year was such a surreal experience, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to go to the conference in NYC and meet so many children’s book folks! I felt proud to display my work in the portfolio showcase, and taking that huge step in putting my work out there felt like such a big personal success. 

Any exciting projects on the horizon?

Right now I’m working on some fun personal projects, but I am definitely looking for opportunities to illustrate picture books or graphic novels!

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

Instagram and Twitter have helped me connect to other illustrators across the country that I wouldn’t have been able to meet offline. I definitely value the sense of community that comes with posting art on social media!

What are your career goals?

My first career goal is to land a book deal! I would ideally like to start by illustrating manuscripts in collaboration with a writer, but eventually would like to start author-illustrating my own stories. I have one picture book idea in particular that is very near and dear to me, and I would love to publish it one day. It would make me so happy to have my work connect with people, especially in a medium I am endlessly passionate about: books!

What are you working on now?

I am working on finishing up my senior thesis book Avian Art History! It’s an art history book but all the subjects of the paintings are birds. It’s very silly and I am having so much fun working on it. Follow my Instagram (@abigailrajunov) for updates on the book!

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

If you’re a digital artist, try turning on color jitter in your brush settings! Color jitter makes every stroke you put down a slightly different color, which I find helps give my work a more traditional colored pencil look. Also, I love using textured stamp brushes to give my work a grittier quality (shoutout to Nik Henderson’s stamp brushes!) Overlay layers are your best friend as well, they can really help give your work that extra sizzle.

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

I definitely feel like I am in that position now, and though I’m really excited to get my illustration career started, there’s a lot of anxiety and uncertainty that comes with it. I heard a quote from the amazing illustrator Anoosha Syed that really resonated with me: “If a door closes, don’t try and force it open. It probably means what’s behind it isn’t right for you.” This quote helped me a lot because it made me realize I am not alone in feeling anxious or worried about rejections. I am so grateful for the career opportunities I have had this past year, but I definitely still have a lot of imposter syndrome regarding my work. It’s important to remember to be kind to yourself. Celebrate your achievements, your talent, and your passion – it’s why we do what we do.

Abigail, 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 Abigail using the following links:






Talk tomorrow,



  1. What a wonderful sense of humor, style, composition you have! So many things to love about your work. I especially like the Avian Art History and the harpist. Beautiful!


  2. Fun style and made me laugh. Excellent, Abigail!


  3. Great humor in these illustrations. Thanks for the post.


  4. Lots of fun! Thanks for sharing, Abigail!


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