The Grow Issue: A Cover Comes to Life


We couldn't be more excited to announce that Issue #4 has arrived from the printer! The contents of The Grow Issue are as rich and teeming with life as the cover. I'll share more about all the amazing writers, artists, and makers who contributed to this issue soon. But for today I'd love to highlight the wonderful artist behind this cover and the making of it. 

Fave local artist and watercolorist extraordinaire Lindsay Stripling graces our cover with her lovely art depicting the flowers and insects that she remembers from long days spent playing in her grandparents' backyard in Lafayette during her childhood, and the flourishing flora she finds in Northern California. Lindsay is a master of her craft, who paints dreamy tableaus of scenes set in folk and fairytale worlds from her imagination. She tells us that the best way to tackle her paintings is to allow for mistakes, since they are impossible to avoid. As soon she messes something up, she just turns it into something else. Find her awe-inspiring work here. You'll also find Lindsay's gorgeous watercolors in another spot in this issue, accompanying our illustrated story A Brief History of Ultramarine Blue written by Alexis Joseph, pigment expert and founder of the swoon-worthy art supplies shop Case for Making in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco. 

Here's a look at Lindsay's issue 4 cover sketch, already so beautiful:


We knew we wanted the flora and fauna to contrast against a black background. Our creative director, Elizabeth Haidle, came up with this nuanced coloring of the masthead against black:


 Lindsay's final art in place with a mock cover design:


As much as we loved the simplicity of this cover, we knew we'd want to accommodate callouts for our delectable main features, so Lindsay filled out the space with added pea tendrils. We also included lettering so the plants could be identified on the back cover. 

And so...the final cover!


Elizabeth designed and illustrated the back cover to beautifully compliment Lindsay's art and the theme of nature and the outdoors, introducing the legend for curious kids (and grownups) to pore over. 


We hope you love how this cover turned out and the entire contents of this issue as much as we do! Find out more about all the goodies in issue 4, which includes contributions from creative duo Lisa Brown and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket); an essay on the making of The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, author of The Curious Garden; an inspiring, illustrated Q & Artist interview with illustrator Diana Sudyka; a new Literary Giants as Kids comic featuring Mark Twain; stories, art, DIY, and activities galore. Click here to see our full table of contents and a few spreads from The Grow Issue. Enjoy!

Join us at Children's Fairyland: Turn the Page! Festival

fairyland turn the page.jpg

Come join us at our absolute fave storybook theme park for Children's Fairyland's Turn the Page! festival on Saturday, May 6th. Meet over 25 local authors and illustrators and come say hello to Illustoria's publisher Joanne Chan from 12:20–1:30 pm as she shares a behind-the-scenes look at the making of an arts & literary magazine for kids.

WHAT: Turn the Page! Children's Book Festival

WHEN: Saturday, May 6, 2017
             10am–4pm / ILLUSTORIA meet-and-greet @ 12:20–1:30pm

WHERE: Children's Fairyland
               699 Bellevue Avenue
               Oakland, CA 94610

Here's the full list of Turn the Page! authors and artists:

Who doesn't love a trip down nostalgia lane with their kiddos? Magic Keys, Happy Dragon, Willie the Whale, Alice in Wonderland, The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe, Anansi rides, puppet shows, plays, farm animals, and more...all in lovely downtown Oakland by the lake.

Photos: Fairyland & the Fairyland Archives 

Photos: Fairyland & the Fairyland Archives 

Children's Fairyland is among the top Oakland spots for families with kids--right alongside the Oakland Museum, the Oakland Public Library, the Oakland Zoo, and Lake Merritt. So come by with your creative kids and join us for a lovely Saturday on May 6th. Hope to see you and your family there! 

ILLUSTORIA interview on APEX - KPFA 94.1


Thanks to Melissa Hung for the recent interview with me about Illustoria, which ran on APEX Express on KPFA 94.1. If you missed it, you can still listen to the archived show here (37:00). Melissa, co-founder of Hyphen and a writer, journalist, curator and educator, asks insightful questions about why I chose to launch a print magazine and how we at Illustoria are approaching the need for more diverse representation in storytelling for kids. Tune in to learn about my inspiration behind the magazine, our editorial approach to the stories, art, interviews, and activities in each issue, and how Illustoria hopes to stand out in today's challenging but exciting landscape of print publishing. 

Founder/Publisher Joanne Chan talks to APEX about her inspiration to start a print magazine for kids and grownups. Photo by  Melissa Kaseman

Founder/Publisher Joanne Chan talks to APEX about her inspiration to start a print magazine for kids and grownups. Photo by Melissa Kaseman


Process: Designing ILLUSTORIA's First Cover


Introducing...our cover for the premiere issue of ILLUSTORIA!

After a long cover design process during which we conceptualized, developed, reiterated and debated for many months, we had that "A-ha!" moment when we saw this version. We think it's contemporary and fresh with a DIY feel that speaks to who we are: a totally new kind of magazine for kids & grownups. 

As we worked on our cover, we asked ourselves: how do we spark the curiosity and interest of a 9-year-old and his or her parent? Will artists and writers find camaraderie? Will teachers and librarians see value? How do we stand out from the crowd with a single image and just a few words? 

It was a real identity challenge and pushed us to make an authentic statement about who we are and what we value through pictures and words—which is what our magazine is all about, after all. 

For those who want to get beneath the surface, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the making of our very first cover. 

Step 1: Settle on a logo!

Our very first logo, which we still love and use sometimes. 

This is the logo we were very happy with for quite some time. Interestingly, when we applied it to a mock-up cover we learned that what worked on stationary and business cards felt out of sync with our visual aesthetics, which had evolved over almost two years of incubation and development. 

We wanted our logo to show off a DIY attitude and be, as one of our team members put it, “perfectly imperfect.” Our aim was to not stray too far off course from the original which, as mentioned, we were still smitten with.

Logo variant #1

Logo variant #1

Logo variant #2

Logo variant #2

Logo variant #3...which we really liked.

Logo variant #3...which we really liked.

We finally settled on a design close to the more understated original but with a bit of an edge. 

Final logo. We opted for the simplicity of b & w + red.

Final logo. We opted for the simplicity of b & w + red.

Step 2: Cover art!

We went through several really strong cover mockups that were quite beautiful. But beauty isn’t everything and we needed to make an instant connection on an emotional level too. That happens through tone, mood and an original voice which can be really hard to pinpoint. We wanted to say to our readers-to-be, “This is good stuff. We have something unique to offer you. Look and linger a while.” Even, “You and I—we’re gonna become quick friends, I can tell.”

The experiment that inspired our cover art.

The experiment that inspired our cover art.

It's strange how you sometimes find inspiration--or rather, it jumps at you--when you least expect it to. Our creative director, Elizabeth Haidle, was working on an ILLUSTORIA gift card. Out of convenience she used an existing piece of art to create a placeholder fake cover, meaning to swap it out later. But seeing the image and the logo together…something immediately clicked for us. A happy, happy accident.

I asked Beth to illustrate a young reader in the same pose, perhaps with a book in her hands. Within a day she came back with several cover options that instantly said to us, “Watch out, world—there’s a new kid (err, magazine) in town!”

These were gorgeous though I'm sad to say we ended up nixing the egg being laid in midair!

We experimented with a colored background and hand lettering. Along the way we corrected the trim size, which was off in the first iterations. See how minor details take time to finesse?!

Step 3: Integrating text and art

We experimented with showcasing our featured articles through words and pictures—sometimes only pictures. A high priority for us, as a magazine that celebrates visual storytelling, was to integrate the text callouts with the cover art in a way that worked together seamlessly. I didn’t want the text to feel secondary, and we certainly didn’t want the art to get cluttered by too much editorial content. It was important for the callouts to not be dry and overly informative. They needed to engage and appeal to both kids and grownups.

As much as we adored the thumbnail images, they distracted some from the simplicity and impact of our main illustration. It was a tough call, but ultimately the word balloons won out. We continued to futz around with the typefaces and hand lettering and even corrected a typo that had (admittedly) been overlooked for weeks, until we settled on...our winning cover!

Step 4: Make it look effortless


Our final cover


So get to it and spread the word! Order and subscribe to ILLUSTORIA and ask your local bookstore or shop about stocking it. You won’t be disappointed by all the good stuff in the packed 64 pages of each issue. We're just scratching the surface of what may become a wonderful, lasting friendship with all of you: our coveted readers-to-be.