Critter Lit

Write. Draw. Read. Repeat.


Interview with Illustrator Noël Ill

debut interview, Holiday Books, Illustrators, InterviewsLindsay Ward1 Comment

Happy Thursday Critters! Today we are joined by Noël ILL, an incredibly talented illustrator, whose new board book by Carole Gerber comes out this month with Familius. I love the art in this book— it’s charming, fun, and the perfect new book to share with your little ones this Halloween!

So without further ado…please welcome Noël ILL!

Artist_Portrait_Noel ILL.jpg

Where do you live?

I live in the Inland Empire. It’s in Southern, California, Southwest of San Bernardino County. There are beautiful mountains and sweet smelling orange trees everywhere.

Noël Ill dressed up as a kitten for Halloween when she was little.

Noël Ill dressed up as a kitten for Halloween when she was little.

When did you know you wanted to illustrate picture books?

As a kid, I was always drawing and my favorite assignments in elementary school were when the teacher would ask the class to write a short story and draw a picture to go with it. I knew then that I enjoyed illustrating stories. It wasn’t until I was in community college, before I went to art college, that I took a children’s literature class and realized I would love to illustrate children’s books. It was my main goal when I headed into ArtCenter.

Interior art from IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT! written by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Noël Ill

Interior art from IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT! written by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Noël Ill

Tell us about your road to publication, what did that involve for you?

It involved a lot of daydreaming and a little bit of confidence. After I graduated from ArtCenter, I was hoping to somehow get into illustrating children’s books, but I had no idea how. So, that’s where the daydreaming part came in. I was just dreaming of doing it with no actual tangible plan. Then I came across a job posting from ArtCenter’s job board where a local educational publishing company was looking for an illustrator to illustrate bilingual English and Spanish books with Hispanic themes. I immediately applied. I’m half Mexican and I felt very confident that with my illustration skills and my Hispanic cultural background combined, I would be a great fit for the job. I got the job and I still work with them today. The company is called Lectura Books and I’ve illustrated 11 books for them. I also post a lot of my original artwork online. That’s how the art director for If You’re Scary And You Know It! came across my work and got in contact with me. I’ve been illustrating professionally for over 10 years and even though I have illustrated many books for the educational market, this book is actually my first book in trade publishing.

Interior art from IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT! written by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Noël Ill

Interior art from IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT! written by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Noël Ill

Can you share a bit about your process?

First I start with looking up reference. I look up online the subject matter I will be working with. Or, if I have the time and the assignment has to do with something like for example, a horse, I will actually go to a place where I can see a real horse and take pictures of it and just observe the horse’s personality. Then I start sketching ideas in my sketchbook with pencil. I sketch out character ideas and layout composition ideas. After that, I move over to the computer where I began creating the illustration digitally.

What do you do to shake the rust off or get new ideas?

I do anything but art! I will even start to organize the clothes in my closet or organize boxes in my garage and then I start finding old stickers and trinkets I forgot I had which then starts my imagination going. It goes from, “Oh, I didn’t know I still had my sticker collection from the 1990s.” to “ I need to start drawing my own line of stickers!” It’s not too hard for me to get new ideas. So many things inspire me every day.

Anything you can’t live without while you draw?

Not really. The only thing I tend to always have or at least remember to have with me is a bottle of water to drink.

Interior art from IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT! written by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Noël Ill

Interior art from IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT! written by Carole Gerber, Illustrated by Noël Ill

Any authors and/or illustrators who inspire you?

Yes, all of the illustrators that worked with Hallmark in the 1980s. I loved their greeting cards, the paper goods, the sticker sheets, plush toys, everything. I also love a series of books about holiday traditions by Edna Barth and illustrated by Ursula Arndt. I re-read the books almost every year. Probably the most popular book of that series would be the Halloween one, Witches Pumpkin’s and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols. I love learning about the history of holidays and the line-art illustrations in them are great. I’m also hugely inspired by mid century illustrators. I’m drawn to the shapes and colors and creative use of space.

Dream project to work on?

I have so many! Besides wanting to team up with a manufacturer and become the next Lisa Frank, I would like to team up with one of the “big five” publishers and illustrate a book that helps children with dyslexia. I have dyslexia and I went through almost my whole academic life without knowing. I didn’t get diagnosed until I got to college. I always wished I could have started learning about it sooner. I think I would have been more confident in reading and writing back then had I known. It would be great to contribute to a project that helps kids with that.

Tell us about your debut book.

It’s called If You’re Scary And You Know It! written by the amazing, Carole Gerber. The book is Halloween themed with 10 full color spreads illustrating follow along movements and actions set to the tune of If You’re Happy And You Know It! Each page introduces the reader to a different child character in their Halloween costume, performing an action, whether it’s howling at the moon like a werewolf, shaking a limb like a scarecrow or bending your knee like a boney skeleton. It’s a great audience participation book and I know kids will have lots of fun following along.

What’s up next for you?

Currently, I am excited to get sketching more original ideas for the greeting cards and products I sell through my website.

And last, but not least, favorite 80s movie?

I love this question! There were so many good movies in the 80s it’s hard to choose, but I am going to say The Chipmunk Adventure. You can’t go wrong traveling the world in a hot air balloon singing rockin’ songs.

Huge thank you to for Noël Ill for stopping by Critter Lit today! We can’t wait to see your adorable board book out in the wild this month!

Noël ILL earned her BFA with honors in illustration from ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California. Throughout her design and illustration career, she has had the opportunity to apply her artwork and tasteful design sense to the publishing and entertainment media fields. Her more notable commercial work includes production art for the quirky HBO animated series, The Life and Times of Tim, the “Be Mine” sticker pack for Facebook stickers, and “The Sweetest Little Ghost” her licensed illustration for Papyrus greeting cards.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about Noël ILL visit her online or follow her on social media:

Twitter: @noelillart

Instagram: @noelill


TO ORDER Noël ILL’s book, ring up your local bookstore or click here.


Want a chance to win a copy of IF YOU’RE SCARY AND YOU KNOW IT?! Comment on this post or share it on Twitter. One lucky winner will be selected Thursday, August 22nd! US addresses only please.