Illustrator Spotlight: Heidi Woodward Sheffield

© 2010 Heidi Woodward Sheffield

Today we welcome the talented Heidi Woodward Sheffield, illustrator and collage-master extraordinaire.

Q. Tell us about yourself and your work.

I’ve always been a storyteller, whether it was during my career in advertising as an Art Director and Copywriter, or today as an illustrator and writer of children’s stories. I’m known more for my collages, though I have other styles I enjoy, too. I love art that has a hand-hewn quality to it.

Q. How did you come to your current collage style?

I took a Photoshop course from friend, teacher and illustrator John Dinser. I figured it would help with my freelance graphic design projects. Little did I know I would come to love Photoshop. I’m not exactly a technophobe, but I’m not the handiest when it comes to computers, sometimes. John showed us some really wonderful ways to use Photoshop without fear. And he shared techniques he had gleaned from his friend and workshop teacher Matt Mahurin.

© 2010 Heidi Sheffield

Q. You're in the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. What are the one or two best things you've learned so far?

Gosh, just two? Well, the first one is determine what your hardest illustration challenge is. Muster up the courage, then go for it. In other words, don’t go for the easy stuff. 

Find something in your work that’s really been hard for you. The thing that’s knocked you on your butt. The thing you psychologically think you can’t do, or the place you can’t go. You’ll know what it is. Every illustrator has some spot that’s especially tender. Yeah, that spot. That something that’s holding you back. Go to that spot. Stick a paint brush in it and stir it up. And go to it again, and again, and again. 

My mentor, David Diaz seems to be a good blend of coach for me. He has a good eye creatively-speaking. He’s able to express, “Hey, this part of the picture sucks,” without telling you so. Don’t ask me how he does it. It’s rather mysterious.

© 2010 Heidi Sheffield

Q. Ha, you are so right about David Diaz. He is a great mentor. What are you working on these days?

I am working on several projects. One mockup is with an editor at present. I might consider the self-pub route, if I can’t find a taker. I hope to do it the “right” way (hiring a seasoned and professional editor to vet the manuscript, etc.). I’m also working on the writing and illustration for a couple of other 32-page picture book mockups.

© 2010 Heidi Sheffield

Q. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

I begin most projects listening to Johnny Cash’s last recordings: American V: A Hundred Highways. “Help me” for the notion that sometimes it’s darned hard to go for your hardest challenge creatively-speaking. There’s no rationing myself on this or that project. It’s always a head-long bungie jump for me. “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” for its ballsy honesty. “On the Evening Train,” for the colors purple and blue. If I can put just one iota of that in my illustrations, I’ll feel some sense of success.

© 2007 Heidi Sheffield

Q. Where can we find you on the internet?

You can find me at www.heidibooks.comTwitter (@wwwheidibooks), and Facebook.


  1. Thank you, Heidi, for sharing your amazing work. And your advice is really resonating with me.

  2. The work here looks like Heidi has been having lot of fun! Would love to find a teacher for PS too. Good luck with the mock-up, Heidi!

    1. It is a BLAST to make.
      Regarding PS, check out your local community college. Lots of hidden gems for little dinero.

  3. Great, honest interview. Thanks!

  4. Love your work! Very unique, fun and full of personality!! Wishing you continued success.

  5. Heidi, Your work is fabulous!! I haven't seen it in a while, and you've really grown in your collage work. Keep it out there and Congratulations on this feature!

  6. Such a great interview. And we got to see Heidi's art. A double win!

  7. Hi Heidi! I could stare and absorb your art for hours, always finding something new. And so interesting that you start most of your projects by listening to Johnny Cash and the reasons why behind each song. Cheers!

  8. I enjoyed this interview. Heidi, I love your art. I also liked what you shared about finding the thing that is hardest for you to do and stick a paint brush in it and stir it up. I was raised on Johnny Cash - Go Johnny! So, I got a kick out of how you use his last recordings as inspiration.

  9. Heidi, your artwork is a feast of interest and design! There is so much expression! And what a fine interview. Find that thing that's hard, that place you don't want to go...yeah, that is where the really good art/writing will take place! And then I think of what Nikki Grimes said about exercising patience with the practice of inducing creativity from oneself. You cannot rush the process. Blessings, Beth McBride

  10. Such talent! Thanks so much for sharing Heidi's work with the KidLit411 Community!


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