VSS Illustrator Interviews

In doing these interviews, we hope to give you a glimpse into our artist members' unique personalities, a new perspective on their wonderful work, and the opportunity to know what inspires them!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Amal is a new member of the Visual Storytellers Studio. Her eye for detail shows in her fine charcoal and watercolor illustrations. This week we get to learn a little about how she works.

How did you get started in illustration?
A small image of a couple of lovely, but poorly drawn dancers hung above my crib, no kidding. I thought the scene needed some adjustments, something to make it resemble the Picasso Harlequin print that hung in my sister’s room.

What is your favorite medium? Charcoal
Can you describe your usual work process for us? Messy.
Do you write as well as illustrate your own stories? Yes, I have six English as second language books and am currently working on a novel for older children, grades 4-8. 
Which comes first for you? Images come first.
Do you illustrate full time or do you also have a day job?  How do you balance the different aspects of your life?
Full time. Did you just ask me about balance? My daughter and I keep the remnants of our bop bags in a corner behind the washing machine.

Where in the country do you live? Port Jefferson NY on the Island of Long.
Tell us about your education and training. Did you learn more through school or your own experiences?
Both. But I can say (with emphasis) that the time I spent wandering northern Italy and learning fresco technique was invaluable.

Have you had any books published? My Magic World, illustrated
What is your website? www.amalillustration.com

Tell us about your current project.
There are two, but the one I’m most interested in is Into Venice, an illustrated novel for older children based on one trip Igor Stravinsky made to Baltimore, the cobblestone (and Formstone) from which I stem.

Who are your favorite children’s illustrators or authors?
Stephen Player
P.J. Lynch
S. Salig Gallagher
Sidney Paget
Gennady Spirin
Edmund Dulac
Lisbeth Zwerger
Anne Yvonne Gilbert
Terry Pratchett
Rudyard Kipling
Cornelia Funke
Mark Twain
Roald Dahl
Joan Aiken
Robert Louis Stevenson

If you could be any children’s book character, who would you be?
Tiffany Aching, a witch whose main weapon of defense is a frying pan.

What inspires you?
Changing skies.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A dancer-veterinarian who could draw her partners and the animals she dissected.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Pick weeds.

What job would you like to have if you weren’t an artist?
Um, the child of an artist? OR a part of a team for Doctors Without Borders.

Any advice you’d pass along to illustrators just getting started?
If you’ve got a question, find an answer. Oh, and you’d better not let that sketchpad go missing.

Amal also has a bio page that you can check out to learn even a little more about her!


  1. Great and informative interview, Amal! And I thought I knew something about you! LOL

  2. I agree, very informative. Amal, I learned more about you too. I didn't know you love to pick weeds. You are a true gardener.
    Great illustrations and niffy studio.
    Again Jill well written article.