Meet the Team

How to choose an illustrator for your children’s book

Advice from Tellwell’s in-house illustrator Veronika Hipolito

Veronika Hipolito is Tellwell’s in-house illustrator. She is known for creating whimsical children’s book illustrations and beautiful cover designs. Her illustration style is magical, expressive, and free-flowing. Read on to hear her approach to working with authors as well as what authors should look for when choosing an illustrator for their children’s book.

Tell us about yourself.
I’m an illustrator and a painter. My concoction of surreal, detailed elements, dominantly on a blue colour palette accentuated with gold foils and ink, make the imagery stand out. This is also how I express my passion for merging culture and nature in every possible way.

What did you do before joining the Tellwell team?
I was a graphic artist and illustrator at a local newspaper. I’m also an art-event organizer who caters to both local and international creatives. I’m an active artist in the arts community participating in exhibits, art and literary conventions, and competitions.

What is your approach to working on illustrations for authors?
I review and read their stories and do my best to understand what they want to visualize for their book. I think the key to having a good relationship is providing extra care, understanding, and suggestive thoughts only when needed.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
I grew up reading children’s books and watching animated movies. My mom is an avid collector of books and movie CDs. It greatly influenced me to admire the magical world of animation, stories, and how their illustrations and films spark an individual’s imagination.

Who are some of your favourite artists or designers?
Here are a few from my inspiration list: James Jean, Tran Nguyen, J. C. Leyendecker,  Roger Wilkerson, Armand Serrano, Lorena Alvarez Gomez, Steph Laberis, Annette Marnat, and Genevieve Godbout.

What are some of your favourite projects to work on?
I especially enjoy working on fantasy and children’s books. I love the imagination that goes into world-building, and the magic and sense of adventure in those books.

What advice do you have for authors when working with illustrators?
Do a lot of research in your genre. Seek advice from loved ones, friends, or mentors whenever it is necessary. Be open-minded and trust your publishing team, as they can help provide deeper insight and new ideas for your illustrations and overall book project. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or suggestions if you are uncertain of how the characters, background, and environment should look. Illustrators are full of great ideas, and are usually really happy to help!

What should authors look for when choosing an illustrator for their children’s book?
Look at the illustrator’s portfolio and see if their style resonates with how you envision your book. You’ll naturally be drawn to some styles and not others. It’s helpful to have examples or books of illustration styles that you like as well, so you can have an idea of the look that you are trying to achieve.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?
I feel inspired every time I read their happy and exciting feedback. That I get what they want and put it into a good visual. 

What are you most proud of? Biggest accomplishments?
I’ve achieved my dream of becoming a book designer and illustrator! It’s one of my biggest accomplishments that I’m proud of, and I’m thankful to Tellwell for helping me to achieve it.

What do you like to do outside of work?
I do traditional art and join art community activities. I also like to hang out with my art friends; we do a lot of creative and crazy ideas together.

What are your favourite books to read? Any recommendations?
I’m a sucker for books that were written by the Grimm Brothers, J. R. R. Tolkien,  J. K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Guillermo del Toro, Elizabeth Lim, and Austin Kleon. 

Please show us some samples of your work with Tellwell, and tell us a bit about each.

A Necessary Family by Jeri Brown. This are my first semi-realistic fantasy-themed illustrations. It was a bit of a challenge, but I did manage to pull it off. My favourite art is the water girl character.

Easy as Uno, Due, Tre by Rose Cocchiara. This is the first kids’ book that I drew a few spread pages and I enjoyed working on it. Soon after, the spread illustrations became more in demand, so I’m quite happy about it.

Is a Smile Just a Smile? by Jenny Lichty. One of my favourite authors! I really enjoyed working on the spread illustrations; they brought out the thoughtfulness and passion of the poem.

Lexi and the Leprechauns by Victoria Whelan. My first Irish folklore-themed story. While I was working with her book, I got the colour inspiration watching Anne With an E on Netflix.

The Ick Erros by Cal Devney. This is also the first augmented reality book I worked on. Ms. Devney made an effort to augment all of my illustrations and I love watching my characters come to life.

Read more of the Tellwell team here.

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