We had the good fortune of connecting with Ana Aranda and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ana, what do you attribute your success to?
Thank you for having me here! As a children’s book illustrator, one thing that is very important for me is to incorporate play into my work.
I want the illustrations to always feel fresh so I try to have a sketchbook practice and also an experimentation practice. For example, I like incorporating food in illustrations, or bury paintings and water them weekly as if they were plants, I like to try new techniques and draw with my non-dominant hand. Sometimes these experiments make it in the books and sometimes they don’t, but the feeling of something fresh and joyous is one thing that I pursue frequently. I believe that bringing the joy of creating into the work can ultimately be transmitted! I am hoping that when people look at it, it will make them smile and bring a little bit of color to the hectic everyday life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a children’s book artist and knew I wanted to become one when I was a graphic design student in Mexico City and was introduced to Shaun Tan’s work. I knew I wanted to do art and design that could be accessible to everyone. I realized that children’s books would be the best fit for me- you could hold a piece of art in your own hands, and have free access to it through libraries. I studied art and illustration for six years, first in France, and later did my MFA in San Francisco. I had worked for European publishers while I was in my Masters but it wasn’t until I went to my first SCBWI National Conference in LA in 2014 that I got more involved in the industry in the United States thanks to being a recipient of the Mentorship Award. Since 2008, I was showing my portfolio and book dummies in conferences and I’ve had many, many rejections. Even now I’m used to work being rejected and I see it as part of the process. Resilience has been the biggest thing in my career. First in my studies -figuring out scholarships, working while studying- and then when I had graduated and started publishing books in the US. One thing I had to learn the hard way was budgeting rest into work time to avoid burnout and injuries. Nowadays that is very important to me so that I can keep creating and have a long and joyous career doing what I love most.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles is an amazing place and would specially be excited to show them cultural places such as LACMA, MOCA and some of my favorite galleries such as Gallery Nucleus, Corey Helford Gallery and Copro Gallery. LA has an amazing art scene to discover, and art lovers will enjoy all it has to offer! I would also take them for a trip to the Last Bookstore, the Griffith Observatory and to the Huntington Library to walk and chat.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family has had a huge impact on my success as an artist and as a human being in general. I was always given the freedom and encouragement to pursue my dreams, and the only thing they ever wanted me to be was happy. A lot of the person that I’ve become, I owe to my parents and sibling, to their love and unconditional support. I am also grateful to the arts and children’s book community, where I’ve found some of the most kind and supporting friends, mentors and colleagues!
1. Interior illustration of “Moth & Butterfly: Ta-Da!” written by Dev Petty, illustrated by Ana Aranda, Penguin/Paulsen, 2021 2. Painting process for “Moth & Butterfly: Ta-Da!” 3. Interior illustration of “Moth & Butterfly: Ta-Da!” written by Dev Petty, illustrated by Ana Aranda, Penguin/Paulsen, 2021 4. Portrait with creatures photo credit: Rachel Styer rachelstyer.com 5. Cover of “The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra” written by Marc Tyler Nobleman illustrated by Ana Aranda, Penguin/Paulsen, 2017 6. Interior illustration of “The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra” written by Marc Tyler Nobleman illustrated by Ana Aranda, Penguin/Paulsen, 2017 7. Cover of “Moth & Butterfly: Ta-Da!” written by Dev Petty, illustrated by Ana Aranda, Penguin/Paulsen, 2021 8. “Chihiro’s Adventure”, illustration for Spoke Art Gallery’s Miyazaki inspired exhibition