We know that getting kids excited about art isn’t always easy. So to help you get your students a little more enthusiastic about art and the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating illustrations and drawings, we’re sharing an interview with Maryn Roos, one of our favorite illustrators here at Imagine Learning. 

We hope you’ll share this interview with your students and get them talking about what they like about art and drawing. You can even use the interview questions we asked Maryn to help your students create their own artist profiles for one of their very own art projects.


Author: Maryn Roos

Maryn Roos started drawing when she was five years old and hasn’t stopped since. After graduating from college with a degree in illustration, she started working as a full-time illustrator, eventually coming to work for Imagine Learning in 2004. When she’s not illustrating books and activities for Imagine Learning English, Maryn works on freelance projects for authors like Whoopi Goldberg and Mario Lopez and experiments with new artistic mediums—encaustic (wax paintings) and needle felting are some of her favorites. To check out more of Maryn’s artwork, visit her artist’s blog here.

How did you start drawing and illustrating? I remember drawing Beatrix Potter characters and stapling them to Popsicle sticks to make my own puppets when I was five. I had great teachers who would let me draw pictures for my own stories. But mostly I just liked to draw, and I never stopped.

What do you like best about illustrating? I love brainstorming, researching new ideas, and figuring out how to put all the pieces together. So I guess I like the problem-solving stage best. Actually sketching it out—going from that blank page to something that has never existed before—is usually the hardest part.

Do you have a favorite work of art? There are too many amazing things to pick favorites! I love looking at the concept art (early sketches and ideas) for Pixar movies like The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and the Toy Story movies. My favorite children’s book illustrators are Mary Blair and William Joyce.

What’s your favorite book you’ve illustrated and why is it your favorite? Sometimes I get to write stories, and those are usually my favorite to illustrate because I can write the story around what I want to draw! I like how The Magic Trick turned out because the characters were very real to me and I loved trying to capture their personalities. Plus, I just really liked the crazy Elvis-style magician. I also really like Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crocket. Our writer Shar Petersen wrote such a fun, spunky character, and I enjoyed putting all that energy into the illustrations.

What’s your favorite medium to work with and why? I started out using acrylic paints, but I’ve been painting digitally since my first full-time job. I really like to use Photoshop. It’s faster and less messy than real paint, and it’s much easier for experimenting or fixing mistakes. But sometimes I miss getting my hands dirty, so I’ve been learning encaustic painting. It’s actually a very old process dating back to the ancient Greeks, and it involves using pigment and melted beeswax.

Aside from illustrating, what do you like to do? I like to make things and am always trying new crafty projects—the latest has been needle felting. Another thing I love is Halloween. Every year I plan a huge party and transform my house to fit the year’s theme. Last year I turned my dining room into an elaborate fortune teller’s tent and had a “gypsy” reading palms all night long.

What would you tell someone who wants to be an artist? Draw, draw, draw! Never stop drawing! It’s great to start out by copying art you like, but eventually you should put yourself and your own ideas into your drawings. Just keep drawing and looking and exploring everything the world has to offer; you never know where inspiration will come from.