Illustrator Interview: Debra Pehrson Haun

© Debra Pehrson Haun

June 5, 2015

This week we feature the talented, up and coming illustrator Debra Pehrson Haun.


Tell us about your background and how you came to illustrate for children?

My background is in education, however, I owned and operated a fiber art business for many years where I created 3D textural art for homes and businesses, but something was missing. I needed to satisfy the young kid in me so I asked myself this question--how can I combine my love of art, children and education into one?  The answer came to me through my first children’s story I wrote, PAPER HEARTS, which I still hope to publish some day using my papermaking technique.


© Debra Pehron Haun


You have a fun and engaging collage style.  Can you tell us how you came to this style?

Thank you so much for saying that!

I came to my style by exploring many interests and a lot of playtime. I played with many surface design techniques, mediums, classes, and curiosity. I also was influenced by other illustrators such as Melissa Sweet, Lois Ehlert, and Denise Fleming to name a few. At the suggestion of a mentor, I went online to discover other illustrators and their process. I found Betsy Snyder and had an instant connection to her process. This was a pivotal moment for me. It helped me put all the pieces together (a little collage humor).


© Debra Pehron Haun


What is your illustration process?

My illustration process starts with a sketch. After the sketching stage, I determine what papers I will need to create by hand. I use acrylics, crayons, pastels, watercolors, inks, pencils and cray-pas to create some of my papers or modify fabrics. After I have created the papers or fabrics I need, it is time to look at my paper and fabrics that I have in stock.  


© Debra Pehron Haun

© Debra Pehrson Haun

© Debra Pehron Haun

It is not uncommon to see me at the fabric store taking in all the wonderful patterns, colors and textures. It just gets my juices going.  Next, I dissect each design into pieces that I can trace onto the desired paper or fabric.  I cut those pieces, scan them and then assemble them in Photoshop over my sketch. I tweak a little with color variations and opacity. My goal is to stay true to my medium. 

Tell us about some of your publications.

My illustrating publications are for a black and white titled, "Nothing, but Frogs" for the ONCE UPON A TIME newsletter and an educational brochure for OSV.


© Debra Pehron Haun


What projects are you working on now?

I am currently working for an educational publisher creating illustrations for an eBook and coloring book.  I also have several PB projects ready for submission.


© Debra Pehron Haun


What are the one or two best pieces of illustration advice you’ve ever gotten?

The best advice I received was “it’s not just about pretty pictures” and when art directors say, “style,” it means the variety of techniques used.

Who or what inspires you?

Nature inspires me every day with all the gifts and ideas just waiting to be discovered. My wonderful “sacred circle” of accomplished illustrators who I feel so blessed to have them in my corner. Other artists in all walks of life, words, stories, patterns, colors, textures inspire me too.


© Debra Pehron Haun


What is something most people don’t know about you?   

I have a newspaper article written on me titled, ”The Most Photographed Girl in Sweden.”  

And you didn't provide us a link after that tantalizing tidbit?  Where can we find you online?




I live in sunny Arizona with my husband and our labordoddle, Roxi. She hangs out with me in my studio and collects fibers along the way because her fur is more doodle like a poodle. You can also find me with a camera in hand catching moments in nature.  I am a mom of two wonderful, creative sons who are now men.  
























14 comments:

  1. I am sorry i did not meet you when I live din Phoenix the last 4 years. I love your work. It is so original and I can see the Denise Fleming influence. I adore the cactus composition at the end! Good luck on your journey! You will break out soon - I see your talent.

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    1. Thanks Kathy for your kinds words! It is always appreciated especially from some one who knows the desert and Denise's work. The cactus composition was inspired by the elf owl and of course, the grand saguaros. Sorry we missed each other too, but there is always FB. Take Care:D

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  2. Underbar! Is that "lovely"? I don't remember my Swedish very well. I especially like the chickadees in birch trees. Thank you for sharing your work with us!

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    1. Hey Cathy, I am impressed you even knew Swedish that is awesome! Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot. It is funny that you like the chickadees because I feel that particular piece reminds me of Sweden. Take Care:D

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  3. Love your story and seeing your creative process. Thank you for sharing. It was truly inspirational. Wishing you continued success!

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    1. Thanks Danielle for your kind words! It was great sharing. You can only hope, as an artist, that you can inspire others. To me, that is what it is all about! Take Care:D

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  4. Hi Debra, I remember your adorable chicken illustration from the last AZ SCBWI conference. I loved seeing it then and loved seeing it again even more! Gorgeous work!

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    1. Hey Dawn, Thanks for your kind words! I am so glad you remembered my chicken illustration. It was a great conference and thanks to you for all your work! Take Care:D Catch ya in AZ!

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  5. Ooh I love mixed media it reminds me of scrapbooking. Your illustrations are super cute!

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    1. Thanks Catherine for your kinds words! I just love paper and all the creative ways people use it! Take Care:D

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  6. Thank you for sharing your process. I love the little owl peeking out at me. Good luck with your PBs!

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  7. Thanks Manju for your kind words! I love that little owl too. It is an elf owl which is the smallest owl in the world. It inspired that whole composition. I am hoping to see one in the wild some day. Take Care:D

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  8. Your animal characters make me smile! Thank you for sharing - especially the cow (love the cow!!).

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  9. Thanks Dow for your kind words and sharing them with me! I am so happy you like my animals especially Chelsie, the cow. She is smart and witty! Take care;D

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