Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 20, 2023

Illustrator Saturday – Anait Semirdzhyan


Anait Semirdzhyan (A-na-It Se-mir-jian) is an illustrator with a passion for illustrating children’s books who has illustrated 13 children’s books. She dreams of writing  and illustrating her own my own soon.

Born in Kazakhstan and raised in Armenia, Anait (she/her) now lives near Seattle with her husband, twin daughters, and a shaggy Labradoodle. She studied Economics, but Art has always been a big part of her life, she spent hours copying Disney characters as a kid, but art has been my true path. Her passion for creating characters and capturing their emotions led her to children’s book illustration. Now she happily dedicates herself to children’s book illustration.  Anait joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and now most of her time is dedicated to drawing for kids.

When not drawing you can find Anait spending time with family and friends or boosting creativity with “Broad Strokes “, her children’s books authors and illustrators critique group.  

Anait is proudly represented by Christy Ewers at The CAT Agency, Inc.


Below Are Two More Illustrations Of This Character Mrs.Tum-Tum.


Hi Kathy! Thank you so much for inviting me back!

Well, it has been five years since you were featured on Illustrator Saturday. Do you feel five years older?

Time flies fast! I feel like I have five more years of experience since I was last featured on Illustrator Saturday. 🙂

Do you do any commissioned art for people?

Not currently.


Do you sell any of your illustrations? If so, please let interested people know how to do that.

My current focus is on book projects. I might consider private commissions in the future.

In 2018, you had just taken a Children’s book illustrating class with Dana Sullivan. Have you taken any additional classes since then?

I haven’t taken any classes since Dana’s but have watched and attended several lectures and master classes.

Looking back to 2018, do you see anything new that has influenced your style?

Since 2018 many things in my life have changed and so have I. These changes have all influenced my style, and in my opinion, in the best way possible.

How many books have you illustrated since illustrating your first book, ERNIE GONZALES, ESCAPES FROM PARADISE?

Eleven! Seven of them are traditionally published or will be out soon, and there are several more in the works!

How many B&W interior illustrations did you do for the book?

ERNIE GONZALES, ESCAPES FROM PARADISE is the only chapter book with B&W illustrations I have illustrated.

Has your opportunities increased since you joined The Cat Agency?

Oh, absolutely! The CAT Agency brought me to the next level and opened many doors in traditional publishing. Christy Ewers is such a professional and simply a wonderful person. I’m so grateful to be working with her and the CAT team.


Do you still do postcards and greeting cards using your illustrations?

Working simultaneously on several picture books currently fills my schedule. I am grateful for being able to focus on work that I truly love.

Did you have an opportunity to work with educational publishers since our last interview? If so, who?

Coincidentally, I just submitted final drawings to Heinemann, my first educational publisher.

In 2018 you hadn’t done any illustrating for any children’s magazines, but now I see you did something with Highlights. How did that come about?

Highlights was one of the first and only children’s magazine I worked with after signing with the CAT Agency. I created one piece for a lovely poem. It was a quick but fun project.

Since 2018, have you written and illustrated a picture book?

Not yet! 🙂

Since our interview in 2018 you had thought about doing a wordless picture book but hadn’t tackled that. Were you able to work on creating one?

Eleven! Seven of them are traditionally published or will be out soon, and more are in the works! Since then, many ideas for a wordless picture book have been coming and going, but I still haven’t created one. I hope to one day!

In our interview in 2018 you said your favorite medium to use were watercolor and colored pencil, has that changed?

Ink and watercolor are still my favorite mediums, but nowadays I only use them only personal projects. For books, I work digitally in Procreate, while trying to maintain the feeling of more traditional mediums.

In 2018 you were just starting to explore Procreate. Do you still use Photoshop or has Procreate taken its place?

Even though Procreate is a great app and my main tool, I still use Photoshop for some editing.

Did you take any digital art classes?

I took an online course on Digital Watercolor by Adilson Farias. I highly recommend the course! Adilson is such a talented illustrator. I also love watching recorded work processes of other digital artists on social media. I find them both educational and inspirational.

In 2020, you illustrated The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalilfor Tilbury House Publisher. It won 2021 ARAB AMERICAN CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD WINNER, Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA) 2021 Honor Book, and was awarded the NCSS 2021 Notable Social Studies Book. Did you think the book was destined for three awards while working on it?

Ah, The Arabic Quilt!  My very first traditionally published picture book that I was lucky to illustrate. I wasn’t thinking about awards while working on it, I was just focusing on making sure the art was good enough. I was honored to illustrate this important story and was very nervous about my work, haha. Then the book won several awards and is loved by many people. It makes me so happy!

Later that year Meditation Station by Susan B. Katz on Nov 3, 2020 with Bala Kids. Were you working on this book while finishing up The Arabic Quilt?

Yes, these two projects overlapped.

In June 2021 your second book with Tilbury House, The Cottonwood Tree by Serena Mangus, came out. Did you sign a three-book deal with them when you signed the contract for The Arabic Quilt?

All books with Tilbury House were signed separately.

In July 2022, They’re Heroes Too: A Celebration of Community by Pat Brisson with Tilbury House. Would you say the third book was the easiest one to do since you had two under your belt with the same publisher?

I love working with the team at Tilbury House and am grateful for their trust in my work. At that stage of my career, I had gained more knowledge of illustrating children’s books, however, each project is unique and brings its own set of challenges, so from that perspective, I would not say the third book was easier than the first.

How exciting was it to get to illustrate A Smart, Smart School by Sharon Creech, which is coming out on Jun 13, 2023, with HarperCollins – Big name author and publisher?

Oh, yes! This project was a dream come true! Especially since it came after a break of several months between projects. One of the greatest challenges for artists is navigating the time between projects and I started to wonder if I would ever illustrate a book again. I was so excited when I received a call from my agent letting me know I had been chosen to illustrate a book by Sharon Creech and that I would be working with my dream publisher HarperCollins. I can’t wait for this book to be released!

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale by Aya Khalil is coming out on Aug 1, 2023, with Tilbury House. Did this book overlap with illustrating the previous two books?

The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale did overlap a little with A Smart, Smart School, and fully with Bábo.

Are you still working on Bábo: A Tale of Armenian Rug-Washing Day by Astrid Kamalyan coming out with Charlesbridge on September 19, 2023?

All of the illustrations are complete and have been submitted to the publisher! This book is very special to me and I’m excited that the publishing date is getting closer!

I noticed that you signed a contract to illustrate JUST US by Molly Beth Gibson with Charlesbridge coming out in 2024. Have you started that book?

Yes, I am waiting for my sketches to be approved. It was so much fun working on this book!

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

Before having multiple book contracts, I would set aside time every day for my practice, to try new techniques and explore new styles. Now that I have a thriving studio, I hardly have extra time and work as much as I can to finish my work on time. I have no complaints, though! I love every book I work on and find that my workday allows for my style and technique to improve through the process.

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

Sure! Every book has its own folder with reference photos or inspirational material. Some books require research especially if it has an educational topic or specific cultural elements.

What do you think is your biggest success?

I consider myself a lucky person and have succeeded in many aspects of my life. But we’re talking about the kid-lit part, right? My biggest success is being able to illustrate beautiful stories, be published by great publishers, and just having a dream job. Isn’t it amazing?

What are your plans for the next five years? Any career dreams you like to fulfill?

Over the next five years, I plan to continue to improve my illustrator skills, work on more amazing books, and maybe one where I will be both the author and illustrator.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m working on two picture books – JUST US by Molly Beth Gibson (Charlesbridge, 2024) and HILWA’S GIFTS by Safa Suleiman (Candlewick Press, 2025).

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 have tried – A how to tip, etc.

For the last two years, I’ve been using Procreate only. I love Kyle Webster’s Photoshop brushes and was happy to learn that they can be used in Procreate too. His watercolor brush pack changed my life, so for those who didn’t know, you can use your Photoshop brushes on your iPad!

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I think that to be successful in anything you need to be persistent. Also, if you love what you do then it’s easier to be persistent without giving up or getting bored. So, my advice is to do everything with love and to believe that one day your dreams will come true. I’ve learned this from my own experience, a few times now. Good luck!

Anait, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and letting us get to know you. Here is the link to Anait’s Illustrator Saturday in 2018.

More places where you can find Anait:





Talk Tomorrow,



  1. Gorgeous illustrations! Just looking at them makes me happy!


  2. Wonderful illustrations! Love the watercolor effects using Procreate. Congratulations!!


  3. Love…love…love your illustrations!


  4. Oh, my, these illustrations are simply enchanting. I have The Cottonwood Tree and love to look through it over and over. I can see I need to find more of her work. Thanks for a beautiful post.


  5. These are wonderful!!! Thanks for sharing with us!


  6. I love how you capture the mood and feeling of the story and characters.


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