ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Interview with Author and Illustrator PBJ

Updated on January 7, 2021
Laura335 profile image

I am the author of three middle-grade children's books, and I blog on the side. My favorite topics are movies, writing, and pop culture.


Introducing PBJ

The first thing that readers notice about a book is the cover. Whether they want it to or not, the cover plays a part in whether or not they want to read a book. This is where illustrators come in. These artists are especially important in children's literature, and the thought and work put into drawing pictures to go along with a story can be just as important as the story itself. That's why I have begun to interview illustrators as well as authors.

I've found that many illustrators are also authors. It only makes sense that the one doing the writing has the best idea of how characters and situations within that story should look.

My first interview was with an author/illustrator who goes by the name of PBJ (Patti Brassard Jefferson). She has written and illustrated her own books and also designed the covers for other authors. Many of her illustrations are colorful, animal-themed covers. Her website is fun but professional, showing that she has a real handle on juggling a career as both an artist and illustrator. Check out my interview with PBJ below!



PBJ book covers


The Interview

1. Explain your background: schooling, preferences, body of work, first job illustrating, etc.

I was that kid that was a doodler. You know the type: scribbling on every scrap piece of paper and always a pencil stuck in my ponytail. I loved art in school but never really thought of it as a career path. The businesses I have owned over the years were always in creative fields, (design company, pottery studio, art gallery) but when I decided to write my first children's story, I actually looked into hiring an illustrator. It just seemed out of my comfort zone. My friends and family convinced me that I should do it.

It was not an easy sell but I finally agreed, and How Long Will You Love Me? came out on Halo Publishing International in 2013. I was very pleased with the outcome.

After that, I started getting requests for illustrating. Just like that a new career had snuck up on me! After a particularly torturous experience with an author, I wished out loud that I could do a very simple illustration job, and that's when I came up with the story of Stu's Big Party which is an illustrator's dream project - about 80% of the story takes place in the dark!

Since 2013, I have illustrated two of my own books, seven for other authors, and have three in various stages to be completed before the holidays. Twelve books in two years from someone who wasn't sure she could do the first one. Lesson to be learned? Trust yourself and take that first step. No telling where it will lead.

2. Who are your influences? Do you ever try to emulate those artists’ works?

I have so many illustrators that I admire, but I don't think I have ever tried to emulate them. I am at a point where I finally have stopped trying to compare what I do to anyone else's work. Art is funny that way. Picasso and Michaelangelo aren't always loved by the same people.

That said, I love the work of Melanie Watts (Scaredy Squirrel) or Sandra Boynton (Hippos Go Beserk) because of the brilliant simplicity, and Mark Wayne Adams (The Fart Fairy) is just a super-talented indie illustrator who probably bleeds in watercolor.

3. Why do you illustrate?

My beliefs in illustrating are much like why I write rhymes for kids. Picture books are often the first introduction to kids of storytelling and the illustrations are often a child's first taste of art and it many forms. I just think its incredibly important to introduce art to kids - whether creating their own or learning to appreciate it from others.

4. What is the best compliment that you have ever received from your art?

I think the best compliment I get regularly is how my illustrations make kids (and grown ups) laugh. The review I remember most, though, was probably the most honest review I ever got. It was from a small book award I entered in which the reviewer said, "The illustrations are certainly passable, but not of the caliber of the majority of stories on my Buy list."

I learned a lot from that! It stung a little, but I realized it wasn't the end of the world. I worked harder, drew more for practice, and even took some classes. I did end up being on the "Buy list" and also ended up as one of three finalists from the award. I think it's an important thing to remember: You can't control what a reviewer says; you can only control your reaction to it.

5. Do you save all of your work? How do you store it?

I do save it all! I have drawers full of the physical painting on watercolor paper. I finally stopped saving the sketches, though, since I have a SMALL create space!

6. How many versions of a drawing do you typically sketc/plot out before developing a specific illustration?

Working on someone else's book, I may draw and redraw several times. When I do my own books, I probably sketch far less, but I am more likely to have it all complete and decide I want to use a whole different medium and redo the whole thing. My first book was done start to finish three times before I settled on watercolor pencils.

7. What is your favorite subject matter?

As far as illustrating, I do a lot of semi-cartoony animals who interact with things in real life: a dragon that works with kids at a library, a dog and its owner - those sorts of things. I also do a lot of Anthropomorphism like alligators and crocodiles having a BBQ. It's more fun when I can skip the people! But as far as story matter, I love love. That's just a joy to illustrate!

8. What are your favorite book covers?

I'm not certain I could even narrow my list down to 100 favorites! I love any well-done cover that automatically evokes a response to pick up the book and open it. Smart indie authors get that and leave it up to the pros, but I see way too many book covers that are very amateurish.

I say all the time, "Skimp where you must but never on on editing and never on your cover."

9. If you are also the author of the book, when in the process do you start developing your covers/illustrations? If you are not the author, when do you begin to collaborate with the author?

I am both author and illustrator on some projects and illustrator only on others. For me, there is no separation when it's my own book. I do both parts simultaneously. I don't write the words if I can't already see the illustration in my mind. For other people's books, I prefer to have no input until it gets back from the editor. Too often, the editor suggests changes like use "at the park" to "near the lake" - three words that maybe fix the flow of text but totally change what I've done. I like to be the last step before it heads to production.

10. What’s next for you?

I am currently finishing up a book for a first time author and then the third book of a series for another author. I'm still hoping to get my third book, I Love you to Pieces finished before the holiday season, but since I am also opening P.J. Books, a new bookstore for indie authors, in October, I'm not sure I will get a chance to finish it in time!

Buy a copy of Bode The Beach Dog by PBJ here!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)