Illustrator Spotlight: Nancy Whitesides


© Nancy Whitesides
Jan. 1, 2020

We are excited to feature illustrator Nancy Whitesides and her art. Her banner design will be featured on our website and our Facebook group for the month of January.

© Nancy Whitesides

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

Hello Kidlit411. Thank you so much for having me here. I'm a kidlit writer and self-taught illustrator. My journey as an illustrator is a long one. I've been an artist since I was a little girl but I did not have the confidence to present myself as an illustrator. I was however smart enough to join SCBWI many years ago but categorizing myself solely as a writer. 

© Nancy Whitesides

This changed on a fateful day in 2015 when I volunteered at SCBWI Los Angeles Illustrator's Day. One of my assigned tasks was to guard the portfolio room and I saw all these portfolios. I thought to myself, 'Look, Nance, here are every one else's dreams laid out on the table. What do you think?' Well I thought I too have a dream. So I've been working so hard, so diligently, and with not much sleep since that day, honing my skills, and illustrating my own stories. I showed my portfolio at this year's SCBWI Los Angeles Illustrator's Day. I'm glad I did that, and I continue to pursue this dream and be counted. 

© Nancy Whitesides

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


© Nancy Whitesides

Thank you so much. I consider KidLit 411 such a great resource for creatives like me. The original KidLit411 banner features birds. I love birds and my muse was my rescue bird, Maggie. I remember her expressions and how she would perch and tuck her head, so I drew sketches of Maggie in different poses. Next, I made collages of text and images, layered with my bird sketches and I added color on top, assembled digitally.

© Nancy Whitesides


What is your illustration process? 

For a story, I brainstorm possible scenes. When a scene piques me, I imagine it some more until I decide on the view point and feeling I want to capture. Reference pictures also help me ground the drawing. Next I sketch out the scene. A lot of times, my initial sketch is the best one. I keep a lot of those sketch lines in the final illustration.

© Nancy Whitesides

© Nancy Whitesides

Next, I decide on the color palette. I do try to figure out the mood or emotion which needs to be conveyed. 

© Nancy Whitesides


Recently I've been concentrating on coloring digitally. It allows me to work almost like in an analog way because I can still use the pencils and brushes I love which are 6B, HB, dry brush, gouache, and watercolor. 

© Nancy Whitesides


What projects are you working on now?

I am revising a dummy which I will be querying in some months, and developing sketches for a dummy for another story. I'm also sending out postcards to select people and also sending art samples to a magazine. I continue to work on my voice as a writer and illustrator and I think 2020 will be an even busier year for me.

© Nancy Whitesides 


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

When I was young, I was often sick and my grandma always told my mom to take me to the beach, not for swimming though. My grandma said ocean air will help me get better. She was a smart lady. I almost always did get better and I realize the ocean was my giant humidifier. I think those memories also helped instill in me my love for the ocean, nature, and of course my grandma and mom.

© Nancy Whitesides


Where can people find you online?

My website is https://www.nancywhitesides.com and I post more illustration stuff on my Instagram: @nancyillustrator and even more stuff I care about on Twitter: @nancillustrator. 

© Nancy Whitesides




Nancy Whitesides is children's book writer and illustrator, born and raised in the Philippines.  Her middle grade fantasy novel won first runner-up at the SCBWI Los Angeles Writer’s Day 2016. Nancy has been participating for almost twelve years in environmental causes including Coastal Cleanup Day and tree planting in burn areas. She previously worked as a physical therapist. She is currently seeking representation.

4 comments:

  1. I love these illustrations - looking forward to seeing more of your work, Nancy!

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  2. I think you are wonderful. I like that you combine TA and digital. I feel happy when I look at your illos. I like that you are self taught. I also like that you are environmentally passionate. Hopefully, one day we will work together.

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  3. Lovely illustrations! I enjoyed looking at your illustrations. Animals doing people-y things are some of my favorites. Best wishes!

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