Illustrator Spotlight: Rahele Jomepour Bell




© Rahele Jomepour Bell

Dec. 6, 2019

We are delighted to feature illustrator Rahele Jomepour Bell and her debut picture book, PLAYDATE, by Maryann McDonald (Albert Whitman April 2019). Enter to win a copy!





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

My country used to be called Persia, I was born and raised in Mashhad, the second large city in Iran, it is also known as a city with having strong roots in literature. During the time I grew up, the war between of Iran and Iraq happened. I remember as a child, the world around of me was kind of gray, but I learned how to find my happy world; my happy world was when I was reading a book or listening to my grandma’s stories. That was the time I realized that I want to be a part of books! I did not know I could be a book maker until later! 


© Rahele Jomepour Bell


I started to take art classes at the age 11. I graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design from the University of Tehran in 2008. Then I started to work with different publishers and magazines in Iran while I was studying MFA in Illustration at the University of Tehran. In 2008 I travelled to Italy for an illustration conference, I met artists from different countries, and I made my first American illustrator friend (that was the best experience in my life).  


© Rahele Jomepour Bell


After that trip I wanted to see more and expand my world as an artist, and I ended up in the United States to study Art. I graduated with an MFA in Visual Arts from Iowa State University in 2015 and from the time I arrived in this country, I learned about SCBWI, and I immediately joined this amazing society of people who have the same love as mine. I am so grateful for having friends I made at this amazing committee! Now I work as a full-time picture book illustrator in my home studio in Ames, Iowa.


© Rahele Jomepour Bell


Congrats on your recent book, PLAYDATE by Maryann McDonald. Tell us about the story and how you approached illustrating it.

© Rahele Jomepour Bell

Thank you so much. Right after I signed with my awesome agent Christy at The Cat Agency, I was offered to make pictures for PLAYDATE. I read the story and I fell in love with the text. I was amazed how Maryann could simplify the complicated concept of the story by using minimal words. I am so happy this was my first picture book publication in the United States. 


© Rahele Jomepour Bell


Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

Because I LOVE my work, I see the road to publication as an adventure trip. It was a long trip but very exciting with having lots of bumps on the road. Sometimes I fell down and thought I wouldn't make it, but thankfully I have my best friend, my husband Daniel who always told me Do Not Give Up, stay on the road and follow your heart. Again, SCBWI helped me a lot to find the way like a light in a dark road. And We Need Diverse Book by Miranda Paul and my mentors from their mentorship helped me a lot to find my way to publication. Dorothia Rohner who is an amazing author/illustrator always has supported me and my work on this adventure. Chuck Richards; my advisor at ISU also thought me a lot about publication and book making. Here I need to tell them how THANKFUL I am for having them in my artistic life! 

© Rahele Jomepour Bell
What is your preferred medium and what is your illustration process?  

I like to try different techniques and always keep the doors open for exploring new styles while I am still me in my work. Each book, each story tells me how I need to work and what style will define it on its best way. I love creating textures by using traditional mediums, then I scan them, using them by digital tools to make my illustrations. 

For example, in my current project I am going to use the textures I have made by printmaking inks in my digital illustrations. Here are the pictures from my process:







And here is one of the illustration examples I made digitally by using my handmade textures:



© Rahele Jomepour Bell


What projects are you working on now?

Two weeks ago, I submitted the final artwork for my second book; OUR FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR, by A.E. Alie, which will be published by Simon and Schuster and it will be out the world by the end of June 2020. Here's the cover of it:



Now I am working on my third book which is about A Book! 

What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Join to SCBWI. Go to their conferences. Participate in any illustration opportunity, let your work to be seen. I remember my first-time illustration publication in the U.S. was when I submitted my work to the Art Spot for SCBWI bulletin and I found it was chosen as the winner for that issue. That one was a HUGE encouragement for me in that time. Do Not Give Up. 


© Rahele Jomepour Bell


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

I wish I could be half Unicorn, half Human! I did not know about Unicorns before coming to the US! This makes me wish to make pictures for a Unicorn book project! 

Where can people find you online?

I will be happy to have you on my Instagram page : https://www.instagram.com/rahele_studio/
And also, my Twitter page: https://twitter.com/RaheleJomepour



Rahele came to United States in 2011 to pursue her dream of being a free international artist, and graduated with an MFA in Integrated Visual Arts from Iowa State University in 2015. She now lives in the beautiful tiny city of Ames, Iowa with her husband and her little girl Darya, and works as a full time freelance illustrator in her home studio.


She has been an active member of SCBWI since 2012 and has worked with Cricket Media, children magazines since 2016. Her illustration work was selected as a finalist for the SCBWI Bologna 2016 and shortlisted for the SCBWI Bologna 2018. She has illustrated 7 books published by an Iranian publisher in Tehran. She is the recipient of 2018 Illustration Mentorship Awards from We Need Diverse Books #WNDB. In August 2018, she won the portfolio showcase grand prize award at the SCBWI LA National Conference. She also was the winner of the 2018 SCBWI Social Media Mentorship for Illustrators at the LA National Conference. Laurent Linn and Debbie Ohi were her awesome mentors. 



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14 comments:

  1. Rahele = dream illustrator. LOVE her work!

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  2. Your pictures reflect the joy you describe when you say, "I met artists from different countries, and I made my first American illustrator friend (that was the best experience in my life)." People. Networking. Friendship. Joy. I see that in your delightful work. Thank you!

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  3. What glorious illustrations, and I'm loving the textured artwork...so glad you did NOT give up! My old boyfriend was from Persia--he made the most delicious eggplant dishes:-) I can't wait to order your books....

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  4. I absolutely adore the image you created digitally using your textures, so cool and very creative!- thanks Kidlit411 for introducing me to another awesome creative. --Kaitlyn Sanchez

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  5. Beautiful artwork!

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  6. Beautifully illustrated, so very nice!

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  7. Adorable book. Thanks for the chance.

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  8. Wow. Pulling all those manually designed forms, patterns, shapes and textures into digital pieces is amazing, and how you artfully employ them to make such delightful scenes is pure art. Love your work Rahele.

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  9. I love the texture of your illustrations - can't wait to see a copy!

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  10. Gorgeous artwork! Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Love your artwork! Congratulations, Rahele!

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  12. Love this illustration style! Thanks for sharing your process!

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  13. Absolutely gorgeous colours. And I love the diversity of the children.

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  14. Your illustrations are delightful. Happy to know more about you and your process - AND your beautiful books.

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