Illustrator Spotlight: Alyssa Sinnen

© Alyssa Sinnen

Nov. 1, 2019

On the first of each month in 2019, we feature an illustrator who won or placed in our Kidlit411 Banner Contest, and we switch our website banner and Facebook page cover image. Today we present Alyssa Sinnen and her work.

Tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.

© Alyssa Sinnen

I loved drawing from the moment I could hold a pencil in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. As a child, my mom took my brother and me to the library on a weekly basis, and from there my love of reading blossomed. I would check out as many books as I could, and carefully examine all of them at home. Although I enjoyed reading the tales the authors offered, the accompanying illustrations captivated me most and told me a story the words couldn’t. I found it magical how artists had the ability to convey simple sentences and give life to the arrangements of words through the artwork. I knew then that I wanted to become an illustrator.


© Alyssa Sinnen


I attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration and a minor in Writing. Since then, I have been working towards my dream of becoming a children’s book writer and illustrator. I am an active member of SCBWI, a recipient of the SCBWI-Minnesota 2018 Illustration Mentorship, and have created illustrations for a few issues of Ladybug magazine. 


We love your banner design for Kidlit411. Tell us about how you approached this design.


© Alyssa Sinnen

Thank you! It was such a delight to work on. With the banner, I wanted to communicate how reading brings people together and allows us to connect. Following the bird theme that’s synonymous with Kidlit411, I illustrated a flock gathering on a wire to listen to a story being read aloud. I made each bird vary in shape, size, and color not just for variety, but to also symbolize different backgrounds.

What is your preferred medium and illustration process?

Hands down, watercolor is my favorite medium to work with. It’s a spontaneous medium and I am often surprised by the results. I use colored pencil on top to add fine details as well as texture. 


© Alyssa Sinnen


All of my illustrations stem from a word, a phrase, an image and start out as messy scribbles in my sketchbook. From there, I refine a thumbnail that stands out and further develop it in Photoshop. I transfer the sketch onto watercolor paper and start the really fun step: painting! I lay down washes of color to establish the mood or ambiance I want the illustration to reflect. I keep building up color and values until I feel it’s ready for colored pencil. I use colored pencil to refine or emphasize certain parts of the illustration as well as add texture and small details.


© Alyssa Sinnen


What projects are you working on now?

I’m tackling a few different projects. Currently, I’m working on completing my first book dummy! I have a few other book dummy ideas that are waiting eagerly to make it onto paper too. I’m also in the beginning stages of creating another illustration for a forthcoming issue of Ladybug magazine.

What is one thing most people don't know about you?


© Alyssa Sinnen

My party trick is reciting Simon & Garfunkel trivia. Did you know that their song “America” doesn’t contain a single rhyme? It’s true! 

Where can people find you online?

My website is www.alyssasinnen.com. I also share my work on Instagram, Twitter, and SCBWI.


© Alyssa Sinnen


Alyssa is an illustrator with a penchant for all things whimsical and cheerful. She attended Minnesota State University Moorhead (BFA 2016), where she studied Illustration and Writing. When she isn’t drinking too much coffee, collecting 50s kitsch, or chasing after her dog, you can find Alyssa writing silly stories or painting in her studio.

4 comments:

  1. Your art makes me happy with all the bright colors. I am a frog fan (I collect frog art, figurines, even stuffed animals), so your illustration of the happy frog with the flower is my favorite of this post.

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  2. Oh, I love your work, Alyssa! The color palette, the use of watercolor. It has such a loving, handmade feel, not a digital feel at all. LOVE IT! I hope you reach your goals!

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  3. Fun and engaging art work, Alyssa! I live in Moorhead, MN so it was great to see you went to college here. Lovely work!

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  4. What fun and imaginative work! Love your use of color. Congrats!

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