DIY Custom Kicks

 Activity featured in ILLUSTORIA Issue 2: Canvas, Art by Elizabeth Haidle.

Activity featured in ILLUSTORIA Issue 2: Canvas, Art by Elizabeth Haidle.

Have you always dreamed of customizing your own pair of sneakers? It’s way easier than you ever thought. In honor of #Inktober, we thought we’d share a favorite DIY activity from ILLUSTORIA Issue #2: Canvas. Check it out!


-pair of canvas sneakers (or a piece of fabric if you don’t want to draw on your shoes)

-sharpie, fabric paint, or stamps with an ink pad
-brush, if you’re using fabric paint
-scrap piece of paper and pencil

  1. Ask for your parent’s permission before decking out a design on a fresh pair of shoes!

  2. Sketch out your shoe design on a piece of paper. Challenge yourself to come up with your very own logo or catch phrase!

  3. Once you’ve settled on a design, grab a sharpie, fabric paint + brush, or stamps and ink and doodle to your heart’s content.

  4. All done? Now it’s time to show em’ off! Head outside and display your awesome new kicks to the world.

 Activity featured in ILLUSTORIA Issue 2: Canvas, Art by Elizabeth Haidle.

Activity featured in ILLUSTORIA Issue 2: Canvas, Art by Elizabeth Haidle.

Loved this DIY activity? ILLUSTORIA #1—7 are filled with even more rad do-it-yourself art projects, recipes and story telling activities from fabric painting to delicious cherry almond bars. Take a look here, and happy drawing.


Aw, Shucks—Thanks for the Love!

 Art by Claire Astrow.

Art by Claire Astrow.

In the past few months, Illustoria has received a tidal wave of support from librarians, independent shops, book reviewers, and readers across the country. We are incredibly humbled by the thoughtful reviews and positive feedback given to us from both seasoned Illustoria subscribers and new readers, and wanted to take a moment to share some of the kind words we’ve received. A very big, warm thank you to everyone who continues to support our indie mag, whether by ordering Issue #7: Black and White, pre-ordering Issue #8: Home, checking us out at your local library or bookstore, or sharing the mag and our mission to inspire creativity in all with your friends and family. We highly encourage you to check out the work of Fab Book Reviews, Let’s Talk Picture Books, Book.Nosed, Happily Ever Elephants, J.T. Moore Library, Sarah Walsh, and Ziraffe Store —all high quality advocates (and creators!) of art, literature, and children’s goods.

Michelle, Fab Book Reviews

 ILLUSTORIA   Issue #7: Black and White   ,  Cover art by Rebecca Green.

ILLUSTORIA Issue #7: Black and White, Cover art by Rebecca Green.

It might be safe to say that I quite love this magazine- such a terrific and welcome surprise! It is a keeper of a magazine- and it is one that you really do want to happily save (and re-read) alongside comics, art books, graphic novels, etc. I could see this magazine making a home in an elementary and/or middle school; maybe even at a high school or at an art program/institution. It might even be worth exploring for a library whose patronage is especially art/comic-focused. On the whole, ILLUSTORIA is beautiful and high-quality. As someone who is so entrenched in kid lit (and delighted to be familiar with some artists featured), ILLUSTORIA is a special delight; I feel that the magazine is just perfect for other children’s librarians! Teachers and educators would find much to love in the magazine as well and want to share with colleagues and students; but the reach of the magazine really does extend to any individuals- kids and grown-ups alike!- who enjoy any of the aspects and topics that the magazine focuses on.

  Goodbye, Night; A Brief History of Street Lights  by Sofie Louise Dam, featured in ILLUSTORIA   Issue #7: Black & White  .

Goodbye, Night; A Brief History of Street Lights by Sofie Louise Dam, featured in ILLUSTORIA Issue #7: Black & White.

Though I've already seen a few other issues I still gasped when I opened this one. Basak Agaoglu? Rebecca Green? Natalie and Lauren O'Hara?? If these names sound familiar, you're on the right track: they're all people I've interviewed here on the site! And with good reason—they're all immensely creative and relatively new to the industry. What a unique and creative way to showcase new and talented illustrators and still keep things cohesive under a general theme. Not to mention there are a ton of people included within that I cannot wait to go out and research!

 ILLUSTORIA  Issue #4: Grow , photograph courtesy of  Book.Nosed , Cover art by Lindsay Stripling.

ILLUSTORIA Issue #4: Grow, photograph courtesy of Book.Nosed, Cover art by Lindsay Stripling.

I dragged out my copy of @illustoria_mag from my inspiration box (nestled next to my twice-used watercolors) today as I geared up to create. The article on creating natural dyes inspired me to fill my watercolor pen with my leftover morning coffee! 🙌🏼💥☕️✊🏼

Ziraffe Store

 ILLUSTORIA   Issue #6: Symbols  , Cover art by Marina Muun.

ILLUSTORIA Issue #6: Symbols, Cover art by Marina Muun.

@illustoria_mag’s issue 6 - The Symbols Issue is here! We LOVE it. The new issue explores the meaning we find in letters, shapes, objects and more through the eyes of many creative artists, writers, and makers. It is packed full of original and inspiring stories, art, interviews, and DIY that will get the creative juices flowing in readers of all ages.

Lauren Davis, Happily Ever Elephants

 ILLUSTORIA   Issue #7: Black and White  , photo courtesy of Lauren Davis,   Happily Ever Elephants  .

ILLUSTORIA Issue #7: Black and White, photo courtesy of Lauren Davis, Happily Ever Elephants.

How many of you adored reading Highlights as a kid? If you were anything like me, you ❤️loved ❤️getting a kids’ magazine in the mail just for you! Well how about trying a super cool, super artistic, and super educational new magazine for your kids and students? Illustoria is a tri-annual print mag and a new fave of ours, and it’s one I definitely recommend checking out and getting a subscription to! The magazine celebrates storytelling, makers and DIY culture, and it’s just awesome. The edition featured here, the seventh issue entitled “Black & White,” features interviews with illustrators, fun comics, black and white crafts and more. It’s a stellar read, informative, and fantastic for both kids and grownups alike. Check out @illustoria_mag now! This also makes a fantastic gift for the holidays which will be here before we know it!

Joanne Meiyi Chan and Mark Rogero imagined a magazine for kids ages 6 to 12 that concentrated on visual storytelling, DIY activities, and creative collaboration with up-and-coming writers and illustrators that are new to the playground of children's publishing. Chan and Rogero's vision debuted in 2016 to critical acclaim from School Library Journal, Library Journal, and award winning children's author Cece Bell to name a few…. The writing is challenging but accessible, making this a read that is most beneficial with a grownup alongside to give some of the authors, artists, and histories context.  

Andreas Frisch, ILLUSTORIA subscriber

 ILLUSTORIA Issue #4: Grow, Cover art by Lindsay Stripling.

ILLUSTORIA Issue #4: Grow, Cover art by Lindsay Stripling.

I really love the magazine as do my two daughters and we consider issue #4 the most perfect magazine ever printed. We frequently browse through it and always, always find something new and inspiring in it. Almost as if something essential in the universe aligned perfectly and as a result produced that magazine.

Sarah Walsh, Illustrator

 ILLUSTORIA   Issue #6: Symbols  , Cover art by Marina Muun, Image courtesy of Sarah Walsh.

ILLUSTORIA Issue #6: Symbols, Cover art by Marina Muun, Image courtesy of Sarah Walsh.

AMAZING MAGAZINE ALERT! Wow, finally able to look at my first issue of @illustoria_mag that came in the mail weeks ago! It’s absolutely gorgeous, fun to read and you can tell it’s made with the utmost care and consideration. It’s really giving me life right now as I’ve been functioning in burn out mode 😣 There’s even a piece about the quilts of Gee’s Bend which if you’re not familiar I highly recommend learning about. Truly inspiring 🌈💙✨Thank you Illustoria Mag for putting something so beautifully inspiring into the world! Lovely cover image by @marinamuun and wonderful Gee’s Bend piece by @clur_astroid

A big thanks again to everyone who has shared kind words about ILLUSTORIA! If you’d like to share your feedback or images of the magazine, feel free to email us at or share on instagram with the hashtag #loveillustoria. We love seeing copies the mag out in the wild!

 ILLUSTORIA  Issue #7: Black & White , featuring  Not So Black and White Party  by Basak Agaoglu, Image courtesy of Yunyi Zhang.

ILLUSTORIA Issue #7: Black & White, featuring Not So Black and White Party by Basak Agaoglu, Image courtesy of Yunyi Zhang.


Creator Crush: Lindsay Stripling

 art by Lindsay Stripling 

art by Lindsay Stripling 


It's clear that we love Lindsay Stripling here at ILLUSTORIA. Not only did she do the breathtaking cover for Issue 4: Grow, but she does regular features with Alexis Joseph (hi, Case for Making!) on the brief history of all of the coolest colors. A master of watercolors, she creates amazing fantastical worlds and nature-infused portraits that make you contemplate what your inner animal would be. From creating a booklet series to teaching classes, Lindsay puts her expertise to spread the good word of watercolor. We were able to pick her brain on all things creative, so be prepared to get inspired by her rad art! 

 photo courtesy of Lindsay Stripling

photo courtesy of Lindsay Stripling


What are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on the second booklet in my watercolor booklets series, this one will be for people looking for expanded information on how to paint with watercolor. I planned a mural for Point Reyes Bookstore which is nautical themed, I just hung a tiny show in June at Fayes Video in the Mission District here in SF, and I am always working on commissioned paintings. 

How did you transition from your day job to being a full time artist?

Well, honestly its still a work in progress. I currently work full time as a restaurant manager for my friends at Outerlands here in the Sunset, I teach watercolor classes at Case for Making regularly and I try and have a regular painting schedule when I am not doing those things. It is hard to balance and I think I will be taking the plunge soon into working freelance full-time, but that is a scary and exciting step, and one that I don’t take lightly. I believe in checking in with myself regularly, assessing where i am at mentally as well as financially- being an artist requires a lot of administrative work that isn’t as fun as the painting part, but over the years I have come up with my own systems that work for me.

 photo courtesy of Lindsay Stripling

photo courtesy of Lindsay Stripling


Can you talk about your process of creating a work/project/book/zine/product from start to finish, and share some process pics with us?

When i am working on a painting or an illustration, I first start with really loose sketches. It is hard for me to allow myself to make quick doodles and concept sketches, so I do them as really small thumbnails. Then I choose my favorite layout from there and do a more detailed sketch- or sometimes I move straight into my under drawing. I typically draw out my painting first in a 3H or 4H pencil on watercolor paper and then before painting I erase the majority of it. I like to erase it because it gives me the freedom to adjust small things, and also removes most of the pencil lines from the final. THEN i get to move into the fun part. I typically start with light washes to cover larger areas and then move into the detail colors and pieces. There is usually a part in the beginning as I am laying down washes where I hate the painting, or I can’t see it coming together. It is hard to push past that sometimes, but when I do and I trust in the process I am usually really happy with the result. And if I am not, I do it over again...

 art by Lindsay Stripling; lettering for A Brief History of Ultramarine Blue, from  Illustoria  Issue 4: Grow

art by Lindsay Stripling; lettering for A Brief History of Ultramarine Blue, from Illustoria Issue 4: Grow


What makes watercolor your medium of choice?

Watercolor is so vibrant, accessible and easy to take with me on trips- and I LOVE watercolor paper. In the last few years I have gotten to work with Alexis at Case for Making to make watercolors from scratch and experiment with color in a different way than I ever have before.

We love the Brief Histories of Color series in the mag! What is your favorite color?

I don’t really have a favorite color, I love all of them too much. But I do have favorite color combos- a tried and true combo is dirty pink and burgundy with a splash of neon orange but recently I’ve been really into lemon yellow and brown (think old banana). 

 photo courtesy of Lindsay Stripling

photo courtesy of Lindsay Stripling


Much of your work involves half-human, half-animal characters. What would the animal-half of your body be?

Probably a coyote!

What were you like as a kid?

I was always swimming and playing different sports, and when I wasn’t doing that or going to school I was reading and drawing. I would make maps of stories that didn't exist yet because that was my favorite part of the books I would read. So many maps. I also would practice my handwriting all the time, my friends and I would spend hours drawing, making maps and copying our favorite handwriting.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist and writer?

I think I have always wanted to do that, I just didn’t know I actually could until I was much older. I had no actual examples of people around me who were artists or writers so it didn’t feel like something that was attainable. When I got older I realized that the best thing about this world we live in is that if you want to achieve something, you just gotta hustle. The best part of that is maybe you don’t achieve that thing that you were initially hustling for but you’ll figure out what it is that you want along the way, through many failures and mistakes and realizing who it is that you are and where it is that you actually want to go.

 art by Lindsay Stripling; for A Brief History of Yellow Ochre from   Illustoria  Issue 6: Symbols

art by Lindsay Stripling; for A Brief History of Yellow Ochre from Illustoria Issue 6: Symbols


Who or what inspires you?

Reading and being outside.


Now get lost in Lindsay's dreamy paintings and make some of your own! You can also check out Lindsay's latest features in Issue 7: Black and White!

Summer Reading Roundup

 Illustration by Paige Geimer

Illustration by Paige Geimer

School’s out and summer is settling in! It’s the best time of year for jumping in lakes, beating the heat with ice-cold drinks, and falling asleep in the shade with a good book. Don’t know where to start with all of the wonderful titles lining the shelves? We rounded up some of our favorites that are the perfect companions for all your summer adventures! There is plenty of time for fun activities, thrilling stories, and books that take you to a new and unique world during these long days.

The Kid's Awesome Activity Book by Mike Lowery

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   Kids Awesome Activity Book  by   Mike Lowery

 Kids Awesome Activity Book by Mike Lowery

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It’s no secret that we love Mike Lowery here at ILLUSTORIA - how can we resist the amazing doodle-esque illustrations and immensely fun activities?! This book has you coming up with some funky monsters hairstyles (mullets are back in, right?), deciphering secret messages, and creating a masterpiece to go on the walls of a museum. Lowery has made a book that is perfect for long car rides or sitting hanging out in the backyard. Plus, the book comes with stickers, finger puppets, and a fold out poster to keep you creative even when you can’t see the white spaces in the book anymore! 

The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin and Qin Leng

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  The Better Tree Fort  by Jessica Scott Kerrin and illustrated by Qin Leng

The Better Tree Fort by Jessica Scott Kerrin and illustrated by Qin Leng

Jessica Scott Kerrin’s story will have you feeling nostalgic about long summer nights that were spent dreaming of the world’s raddest tree house - equipped with a skylight and fireman’s pole for getting down, obviously. The Better Tree Fort focuses on Russell who is building a tree fort with his dad, but can’t help but be jealous of the bigger one 3 doors down. After spending some time at the bigger fort, Russell realizes that his tree fort is better after all! We absolutely love Qin Leng’s watercolor illustrations, which we have gotten to know and love in her book A Family is a Family is a Family. She perfectly captures the ambiance of a summer’s DIY activity; we can almost hear the crickets chirping in the beautiful sunset spread. 


Rad Girls Can by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl

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  Rad Girls Can  by Kate Schaltz and illustrated by Miriam Klein   Stahl  

Rad Girls Can by Kate Schaltz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl 

This summer reading list wouldn’t be complete without including the newest edition of the Rad Women series with Rad Girls Can by Kate Schaltz and Miriam Klein Stahl. Their new book featuring 50 (FIFTY!) girls that have done, well, rad things that all of us are completely in awe about. Turning the focus onto girls under the age of 20, girls can see that they are never too young to stand up and make a difference. In fact, some of the most revolutionary ideas come from young minds! Flashback to Issue 5: Motion, Kate and Miriam talked to us about what inspires them and how to use their talents to support women and girls alike. Now the duo is releasing the third book in the series and we are more inspired to get out there and help more than ever. Rad Girls Can comes out July 17, so make sure to keep an eye out at your fav local bookstore!

Under the Canopy by Iris Volant and Cynthia Alonso

  Under the Canopy  by Iris Volant and illustrated by Cynthia Alonso

Under the Canopy by Iris Volant and illustrated by Cynthia Alonso

This one is for all of the nature lovers out there! Under the Canopy not only showcases Alonso’s stunning, colorful illustrations of some of the amazing trees that we find around the world but also highlights the cultural context of these seemingly everyday sightings. Did you know that Hawthorne trees were thought to be the meeting place of Celtic fairies? Or that Anne Frank used to look out to a large Horse Chestnut Tree outside of her hiding spot in Amsterdam? Just because school is out doesn’t mean that the learning has to stop, especially when it is about awesome subjects like this! After reading this Flying Eye book, you’ll want to go out and see what trees you can find in your own backyard. (Super cool bonus: check out Cynthia’s sweet illustrated story in Issue 6: Symbols.) 

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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  Ghost Boys  by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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While this might not exactly be beach reading, Ghost Boys is a fantastic and necessary tale to be told. Jewell Parker Rhodes paints a heartbreakingly poignant story that is all too familiar - a young boy dies at the hand of a trigger happy policeman. This middle grade novel retells the story by weaving through time and relationships that were made both while alive and after death. He comes across many sides of the story, including another boy whose fate was not unlike his as well as the policeman's daughter, highlighting different perspectives of these events. While the hectic nature of school is gone, summer could be a great time to open up a conversation about these themes with your young one. 

I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi

  I Really Want to See You, Grandma  by Taro Gomi

I Really Want to See You, Grandma by Taro Gomi

I Really Want to See You, Grandma is one of those books that we keep going back to over and over. Probably because Taro Gomi is a genius and we can’t stop looking at his illustrations, but also because this book reminds us of what it’s like to miss someone we are close to and do everything we can to see them. Gomi does a perfect job at creating a sweet story about the bond between a grandmother and granddaughter who both have the same idea to make a trip, but keep missing each other in the process. Though, this doesn’t discourage them and we get to follow these journeys, inspiring us to reach out to our grandparents too. Pack this book in your backpack and go on a journey to read it with a loved one!

The Forest by Riccardo Bozzi, Violeta Lopiz, Valerio Vidali

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  The Forest  by Riccardo Bozzi, Violeta Lopiz, Valerio Vidali

The Forest by Riccardo Bozzi, Violeta Lopiz, Valerio Vidali

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The Forest refuses to be put into a category, and that’s what we love about it. Bozzi, Lopiz, and Vidali do a phenomenal job at making every single aspect of this book special. The story is a sweet rendition of life - from birth to death - using the metaphor of a forest, but it doesn’t lay a heavy hand. Instead you follow travelers through stunning and bright illustrations that are paired with delicate cut outs, where you can see the forest through the physical perspectives of the travelers. Ending in full circle, the book inspires to not take life for granted and to appreciate the small things. 

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

  Be Prepared  by Vera Brosgol

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Shout out to all of us out there who feel as if we don’t fit in - Be Prepared’s for you! This comic focuses on Vera, a girl whose family and economic background doesn’t quite fit in with her other friends... They can afford the coveted (and expensive) "Historical Dolls". She decides to go to a summer camp and feels even MORE out of place then before. It’s a perfect story that is sure to give you some laughs while also acting as a gentle reminder that you aren’t alone. We all feel out of place sometimes. Not to mention, Vera Brosgol is able to capture the perfect summertime camp vibes.

Hoakes Island by Helen Friel and Ian Friel

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  Hoakes Island  by Ian Friel and Helen Friel

Hoakes Island by Ian Friel and Helen Friel

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Are you and your kiddo stuck inside when it’s hot enough to fry an egg outside? Have no fear! Hoakes Island will have you solving a mystery within one of the most interesting amusement parks ever. Complete with a fold out map and a detective magnifying glass, this book has you working your way through pages of puzzles with the help of some animal friends. What’s even cooler? Hoakes Island was written by a dad and daughter duo - Helen is a paper engineer and visual artist and Ian is a historian and has written books about ships. It inspires us to collab with our families and see the genius that comes out of it. So get your brains movin’ again and help save Hoakes Island!

The Great Dog by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco

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  The Great Dog  by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco

The Great Dog by Davide Cali and Miguel Tanco

The Great Dog is a playful and comforting picture book that is a great summer read. A father walks his child down a great hallway of ornate family portraits while retelling their stories. Descending from a policeman, an athlete, and an astronaut, the pup wonders what he will be when he grows up. This makes us reminiscent of the long, hot summer days when we pictured what our lives will look like in the future. *Cough* My bounce house castle might still be under construction. The important thing to know, relayed in this book, is that no matter what you are you will be great. Plus, there is more than meets the eye to all of our great heroes, as noted by the snarky and beautiful illustrations done by Miguel Tanco

That Night, a Monster by Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kolomycka

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  That Night, a Monster  by Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kolomycka

That Night, a Monster by Marzena Sowa and Berenika Kolomycka

You know that feeling after watching a scary movie where everything feels spooky? Even the tree right outside your window? That’s what Tommy, the little boy who went to wake up his parents on a Saturday morning, felt; his mom turned into a fern! Of course, she did not turn into a fern, but rather had a bad hair day that got out of control. That Night, a Monster is a self-aware graphic novel that plays with our worst fears, but in a light-hearted way that makes you turn around an appreciate what you have. Plus, these painted panels by artist Berenika are so silly and relatable at the same time that they remind us that our fears can be the scariest thing of all! The book is on sale August 21, 2018, but is available for pre-order now. 

If you're looking for even more, check out: Boats on the Bay, Book of Bones, Square (it would be an understatement to say we adore everything by the duo Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen!), and The Wild Robot Escapes.

So there you have it - enough books to fill those times when you are bored in the summer and need a creative pick-me-up. We hope you enjoyed them as much as we did and we want to see what books you've enjoyed this summer. Show us what you've been reading on Instagram @illustoria_mag and be on the lookout for the release of Issue 7: Black & White. You can pre-order it now!


Pride Month Book Review

 illustration by  Claire Astrow

illustration by Claire Astrow

The summer equinox is here folks, and that’s pretty much the adult-version of throwing textbooks in the air and sprinting out of 7th period with “School's out for the Summer” by Alice Cooper blasting out of the school’s PA. In addition to being known as the beginning of summer, the time when dreams of pools and working AC machines flood our minds, June also importantly marks LGBTQ+ Pride Month and the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

During Pride, we take to the streets to honor our sisters and brothers of the not-so-far-away past who fought fiercely for the queer and trans community as well as those who continue to pave the way for a more inclusive future. When all the dust (and glitter) from Pride parades across the nation has settled, we remember June as a celebration of inclusion, diversity and love. With this short reading list, we hope to commemorate exemplary releases of kids' literature that embody the inclusion of Pride Month. The books featured were chosen for their representation of gender-nonconforming and/or queer characters as well as LGBTQ+ civil rights leaders.

Here at Illustoria, we’re still dreaming of an even more diverse children’s book world, where overlooked or ignored voices are embraced (anyone up for writing a picture book on Audre Lorde or Martha P Washington?). But in the meantime, we’re jumping for joy about these incredible releases. We hope you enjoy our list, and have a happy Pride Month!


George by Alex Gino 

In a forward-thinking addition to the middle-grade genre,  Alex Gino has penned a tender story of a fourth grader named George whose male body doesn’t fit her true identity. George longs to star as the female spider Charlotte in the school production of “Charlotte’s Web” rather than Wilbur, the male pig, but worries whether her family and community will understand. With a main character that is as eloquent as she is strong, George soars beyond the typical story of the challenges of being young and queer. Better yet, George offers much needed visibility to gender-nonconforming and transgender communities in children’s literature, and is a story of bravery that every middle grade student should read and re-read.

Reading Level: 3rd grade + 

 Lumberjanes 50 by authors Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh; illustrators Dozerdraws & Brooklyn Allen

Lumberjanes 50 by authors Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh; illustrators Dozerdraws & Brooklyn Allen

Lumberjanes 50 by Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh, illustrated by Dozerdraws & Brooklyn Allen

Lumberjanes is a graphic novel series that is bursting at the seams with feminist joy. The story takes place at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, and is attended by campers known as Lumberjane Scouts. Each book in the series brings readers on the adventures of a rough and tumble group of five best friends, each unique in their own right. The playful, beautifully colored illustrations are to die for, and the pop culture references couldn’t be cooler (catchy phrases used by the Lumberjane crew include, “What the Joan Jett?” and “Oh My Bessie Coleman”). Plus, each issue features a music playlist by one of the characters, inspiring fan art, and a rotating lineup of illustrators that keep the comic fresh and exciting. We love this series for its diverse representation of young queer characters and storylines, slapdash sense of humor and heartening stories of friendship. Lumberjanes is celebrating its 50th issue with an oversized anniversary edition which features the incredible editor Shannon Watters (co-creator of the series), acclaimed writer Kat Leyh (who has also written for Adventure Time, Bravest Warrior and Steven Universe), illustrator Dozerdraws and long time series illustrator Brooklyn Allen. Lumberjanes 50 is an absolute dream come true for seasoned fans of the series, but if you're a newbie we suggest beginning with the very first issue Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware The Kitten Holy

Reading Level: 4th grade +

A Family is A Family is A Family by Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng

This sweet-as-a-peach tale demonstrates just how diverse and beautiful a family can be. In it, a teacher asks a classroom to think of what makes their family special. The young narrator becomes worried, thinking “My family is not like everyone else’s.” But to her surprise, each student who shares a story about their family is more unique than the next. There are mix race families, adoptive families, gay and lesbian families, families led by grandparents and everything in-between. Soon, the narrator realizes that families comes in all shapes and sizes; what they have in common is the love that brings them together. With cheerful writing by Sara O’Leary and adorable (yet modern) watercolor illustrations by Qin Leng, A Family is A Family is A Family strikes the perfect match of showing appreciation for inclusion without being pedantic or corny. 

Reading Audience: Preschool +

Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

Two rounds of applause are deserved for the outstanding picture book Julian is a Mermaid. One is for Jessica Love, who has created what so many authors and illustrators aspire to: a book with a setting so vivid the reader becomes entranced, and a groundbreaking, socially conscious storyline that sets it apart from the rest. Another round of applause for the main character Julian, whose confidence and ingenuity will  leave them starstruck.

In Love’s story, a little boy named Julian is riding the bus home with his abuela one day when he becomes captivated by three utterly gorgeous mermaids who step on board. They appear like something out of a dream, with long flowy hair and turquoise dresses. As soon as he gets home, Julian balls out in mermaid attire, fashioning for himself a plant headdress, billowing skirt made from a curtain and bright red lipstick. When his abuela finds him, there is a brief moment of fear --will Julian be reprimanded for breaking gender norms he doesn’t yet know exist? Readers hold their breath as the grandmother takes his hand and leads him on a mysterious route. Soon Julian, still in full princess garb, is surrounded by beautiful beings that look just like him. In the book's joyous ending, it becomes clear that his loving grandmother has brought him to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, to be among the underwater gods and goddesses just like him.

 excerpt from  Julian is a Mermaid  by Jessica Love 

excerpt from Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love 

Julian is a Mermaid’s morale is as touching as it is richly layered. Readers may interpret the story as one of a young boy’s self discovery, a tale of the abundance of beauty and character found in brown and black communities (the book takes place in Brooklyn, New York), or a narrative about the loving bond between an abuela and her grandson. No matter how the story is interpreted, there is no doubt readers will pour over the details Love works into every nook and cranny of the book (check out the cool-as-can-be lemonade sippers or hip man walking his wiener dog). It’s this thoughtfulness towards character, setting and storyline that has us over the moon for this treasure, that we have our bets on becoming an award-winning picture book very soon.  

Reading Audience: Preschool +

Wave a Flag for Harvey Milk Sing-along Coloring Book by Mr. Greg

At long last, a coloring book for a hero of San Francisco and the LGBTQ+ community at large, Harvey Milk. The artist behind this rad creation is Mr. Greg, a SF-based teacher and indie record label owner.

"Each year, my preschool class in San Francisco leads an assembly in honor of Harvey Milk. After searching fruitlessly for an age-appropriate book or song about Harvey Milk to share with my preschoolers, I decided to write and illustrate one myself. I wrote Wave a Flag for Harvey Milk as a way to introduce the preschoolers to the positive things that Harvey Milk did for San Franciscans in particular, and the LGBT community at large. The words of the book are the lyrics to an accompanying song that I sing with my students." Mr. Greg explains.

The coloring book features quirky illustrations as well as narration that doubles as an interactive sing-along.  Click here (link provided in the coloring book) to hear the original song, which features indie musician legend Cass McCombs. The wholesome, catchy song is a work of art in its own right, and can be likened to the greatness of the School House Rock hits of the late genius Bob Dorough (known for writing and singing Three is the Magic Number and Conjunction Junction among many others).

The coloring book can be purchased here. If you’re a fan of the coloring book and music, be sure to check out the rest of the goodies put out by Mr. Greg’s record label Secret Seven Records. For another great children’s book read on Harvey Milk, read Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag.

Audience: Preschool +

We hope you greatly enjoyed our Pride Month Book Review! At ILLUSTORIA, it is our mission to publish stories that champion inclusion with a diverse lineup of illustrators and writers. Check out Issue 5: Motion for our interview with the dream team behind Rad Women A-Z, Rad Women Worldwide and Rad Girls Can author Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl who talk about their goals of prioritizing stories about women of color,  becoming a part of the Bay Area's feminist punk scene, and the importance of getting readers of all ages and genders excited about social justice.  





Creating Cover Art for #7: The Black & White Issue

Hi All! 

Rebecca Green here (you can call me Becca!). I had the pleasure of creating the cover for Illustoria Issue #7, The Black and White Issue, and today we're going to walk through a bit of the creative process behind the illustration. 

 Illustration by ©  Rebecca Green 

Illustration by ©  Rebecca Green 

Besides sending along keywords, details about the features, and some of my previous art they were drawn to, Joanne and Beth of Illustoria gave me a lot of freedom to choose which direction I wanted to go with the artwork. Immediately, I knew I wanted to draw a little boy with black and white animals. I started with this simple sketch. 

 Illustration by © Rebecca Green

Illustration by © Rebecca Green

The drawing, I decided, needed something more. The boy would artist! Complete with an easel and lots of brushes and markers. One thing I did like in the first drawing was the use of one simple color. Green felt right. (and not because it's my last name!) The sketch was drawn in colored pencil (I use Faber-Castell and Prismacolor). 

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 Illustrations by © Rebecca Green

Illustrations by © Rebecca Green

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As you can see, I drew some of the elements on a separate piece of paper and cut them out so I could try out placing them in multiple places. One I had my complete sketch, I scanned it, cleaned it up a bit in Procreate (on my IPad), and send it in for approval. 

 Illustration by © Rebecca Green

Illustration by © Rebecca Green

Once the sketch was approved (this meant making the image a little bigger and enhancing the butterfly), I went to work on the final. I created the final illustration in gouache and colored pencil. Here are some peeks of the cover before it was edited!

 Illustrations by © Rebecca Green

Illustrations by © Rebecca Green

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The final illustration was edited in Procreate and Photoshop, along with the hand-lettered text. When finished, it was sent to the kind folks at Illustoria and voilà! A cover was born!

 Illustration by © Rebecca Green

Illustration by © Rebecca Green

There you have it - a glimpse into the world of the cover creation. Hope you guys enjoy the issue, and thanks for letting me share a peek into my process. And thanks to Illustoria for having me! 

DIY: Drawing in Reverse

 © Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 

© Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 

For days when you feel like you're in an art rut, simply out of ideas or just plain bored, here's a rad, instantly inspiring DIY drawing project to keep in your back pocket. Have you ever tried drawing.... in reverse? Sounds strange and even a little intimidating, but it's actually a fantastic way to spark your imagination without breaking a sweat. By using an eraser to draw instead of a pencil or pen, your page suddenly becomes a playground for zany, totally original ideas, doodles, and experimental drawings. Grab your eraser and get ready to look at the world in a whole new way!

What you need:

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  • Graphite Powder (get at an art supply store or online)
  • Erasers - large, small, all shapes
  • Paper - cardstock, watercolor or multi-media…anything thicker than printer paper
  • Larger placemat, newspaper, or something under your project…it can be a tad messy!
 © Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 

© Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 


1. Using a crumpled up paper towel or tissue, dip into the jar of graphite powder and coat one side, then rub in circular motions across your page until an even tone of grey appears. (Don’t be afraid to press down quite a bit!)

2. Lightly brush any excess powder away by whisking another tissue across the surface. The graphite should be kind of ‘scrubbed into’ the paper, like a stain.

3. With a pencil, sketch in a few lines to show which shapes you intend to make lighter (might be the area around a shape, as in this case!) Erase with a giant eraser or kneaded eraser (my fav)

4. When you have the shape you’d like, fill in details with a finer eraser, the end of a pencil, or one of those refillable cartridge erasers (these can apply a decent amount of pressure)

5. Now add finishing details in pencil or pen. You can even overlay thin watercolor washes on top of the erased spaces or the graphite-tone parts, just be aware that the moment you put water down, it’ll fix your image on the page in a permanent way—no longer erasable.

Here are other images made using this method:

 © Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 

© Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 

And a process vid, to see it in action:

 © Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 

© Elizabeth Haidle 2018. 

Love this DIY project? Check out our Instagram Giveaway to win Elizabeth Haidle's completed piece from the DIY video (pictured above) ! More details on the giveaway can be found here. And stay tuned for more black-and-white themed DIY projects in our next ILLUSTORIA Issue #8: Black and White, coming oh-so-soon. 



Stockist Showcase: Case for Making

 art & photo by Alexandria Lai; a small rendition of Alexis in front of her shop ☻

art & photo by Alexandria Lai; a small rendition of Alexis in front of her shop ☻

As part of our Stockist Showcase campaign, #ILLUSTORIAshopslocal, we’re interviewing the staff behind beloved shops that carry Illustoria, to spotlight the amazing people behind small businesses that make their neighborhoods so special. This week, we made a visit to Case For Making, the most dreamy studio supply shop located in the Outer Sunset district of San Francisco.

Enter through the doors of Case For Making, just a block away from windswept Ocean Beach, and you’re instantly transported into an artist’s wonderland. With a lush wooden interior and beautifully curated goods displayed in every corner, it’s easy to hole up in this cabin-esque shop for hours on end. For those who find themselves wandering in with nothing in mind, they, too will find it easy to roam through each nook and cranny.

 Illustration excerpt from "A Brief History of Vermillion" written by Alexis Joseph & illustrated by Lindsay Stripling for ILLUSTORIA  Issue 5: Motion

Illustration excerpt from "A Brief History of Vermillion" written by Alexis Joseph & illustrated by Lindsay Stripling for ILLUSTORIA  Issue 5: Motion

I had the opportunity to interview Alexis Joseph, one of the co-founders of Case for Making. Her interest in color is what initially brought her into the world of watercolor paint making. Each Case for Making watercolor is a handmade, labor of love with rocks sourced from across the United States and then processed into pigment by Alexis and her team. If you don’t see Alexis at the shop, she might be running to and from their other location, thinking up the next new color to produce with the managers, or writing her regular feature to Illustoria magazine, "The Brief History of Color." (Check out Issues 4 - 6 to read the incredible stories behind ultramarine blue, vermillion, and ochre, written by Alexis Joseph and illustrated by Lindsay Stripling; and find more episodes in the series in upcoming issues of Illustoria). Thankfully, she could squeeze out some time during her schedule to answer a few questions about Case for Making.

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

How does Case for Making find the artists and makers who also inhabit the space? 

A lot of the original supplies I stocked the shop with were all my favorite supplies that I have used throughout a lifetime of drawing and painting as well as architecture and drafting supplies I used in undergraduate and graduate school! I quickly saw that the products that we were selling the most of were watercolors and watercolor supplies, which worked out because its always been my favorite medium. Other things we stock are made by friends, so it feels extra special to carry their work and support them in that way. Anything we couldn’t find or just wanted to see a certain way, we decided to make ourselves! 

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

Do you have a current favorite product/book/magazine that can be found at your shop?

We really love all the Illustoria magazines!!! Other than that we just got in a line of pure pigment and all the supplies you need to make your own paint! We love being able to share and teach all aspects of what we do here with everyone who walks in or joins us for a class or finds us online or through Illustoria.

 photo by Alexis Joseph 

photo by Alexis Joseph 

How did you overcome the obstacles you faced before launching Case for Making?

I started Case for Making while I still had a full-time job. It took me three years in order to get the business (and myself) to a place where I could work full time only for Case for Making. It all took time and hard work and trusting myself to make decisions quickly. All in all, I had to learn how to get good at seeing what was working, and letting go of the things that weren’t.

What is different about Case for Making?

Our paired down selection of drawing and watercolor supplies compliments our in-house handmade products and supplies. We have over 70 colors of watercolor paint that we make by hand in the shops made from pure pigments that we source from all over the world mixed with natural binders. It’s fun to see this process in action and I hope people feel the love and care that goes into our products when they use them! Both shops are also active workspaces so you might see us mixing up fresh batches of paint or collating and gluing up packs of our letterpress watercolor postcards!

 photo by Alexandria Lai; Staff member MJ at the work station 

photo by Alexandria Lai; Staff member MJ at the work station 

Do you have any big dreams or goals for your business?

We want to continue to develop not only our handmade line of watercolors but also a range of paper and ceramic products; who knows what else we’ll dream up! We just love approaching a creative practice from a place of curiosity in terms of material and process. I’m also working on my own studio practice and am reminding myself to incorporate advice that I’ve been handing out over the years into my own process!

Can you describe some of your typical customers? What do you enjoy most about helping your customers find the perfect book/watercolors/art supply/gift, etc.?

We love all of our customers so much and we get all sorts of people visiting the shop! We have people who follow us on Instagram and plan to visit the shop while they are here on vacation and we have neighborhood artists who get all their supplies from us. We also have lots of people stumble in who’ve never heard of us and they’re excited to try out some pens and hang out for a bit! Everyone who walks in is generally pretty happy to be in an art store and we love talking to everyone about the products we make and how we produce our watercolors. We also yell at anyone who comes in and says that they wish they were artistic; we say, “EVERYONE IS ARTISTIC!” Can you make a mark on paper? Fine then, make that mark over and over on a piece of paper with a pen or a pencil or with a brush and watercolor and see what you can make just with that!

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

Any advice for aspiring small business owners?

Simplify your idea, hone it, and build it out from there. I didn’t think I’d have a watercolor paint making company when I started an art store 4 years ago! It was all a response to what was working and what people were interested in combined with my experience and interests! Stay flexible yet clear with yourself on what it is that you’re excited about and then clearly state that in every aspect of your business!

 photo by Alexandria Lai 

photo by Alexandria Lai 

And as always, if Case for Making were an animal, which animal would it be? 

Easy. We’d be an Octopus because they have pigment in their skin and can change color on demand all of which is based on their own process of trial and error! They also have 8 arms so they could draw and paint many things at once! They’re the coolest.

 Octopus, painted in the Indigo and Titanium White handmade watercolors by Alexis Joseph

Octopus, painted in the Indigo and Titanium White handmade watercolors by Alexis Joseph

Thanks to Alexis for taking the time to chat about this amazing studio supply shop! Be sure to check out their Instagram caseformaking for regular updates and loads of paint making Instagram stories! Case for Making and Lindsay Stripling are also regular contributor's to Illustoria with their incredible feature "The Brief History of Colors".  Check out Issues 4 - 7 to read the stories behind vermillion, orche and ultramarine blue. 

Stay tuned for our next stockist showcase, and in the meantime be sure to check our stockist list to find the ILLUSTORIA seller nearest to you!