Illustrator Spotlight: Wendy Martin

© Wendy Martin

June 10, 2016

Today we present illustrator Wendy Martin, whose new book, THE STORY CIRCLE just came out. Welcome, Wendy!  (Be sure to enter her giveaway below).

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

My daughter started talking at six months old. When she started asking questions about how things worked or why, she wasn’t satisfied with simple answers, but she was only two years old and more complicated explanations only served to confuse her. So I started putting my answers into story form. One day, I was engaged in one of these story answers and there were several adult friends around me. They were just as engaged as my daughter with my storytelling. “You should make picture books,” one of them said to me. A seed was planted that day.

Congratulations on THE STORY CIRCLE! Tell us about the story and how you came to illustrate it.

Thank you! THE STORY CIRCLE was written by Diane Gonzales Bertrand. It’s about a classroom of children who discover all their storybooks have been destroyed by a terrible flood. The teacher comforts the sad children by showing them they can create their own stories to share during story time. Each child tells a tale, writes it down and illustrates it to refill the empty shelves of the classroom. 

The publisher, Piñata Books, a division of Arte Public  contacted me to create the illustrations in 2014.

How did you decide what style to use to illustrate this story?

I’ve been sending the Art Director at Piñata Books postcards for a number of years. She mentioned one she received as the image that made her want to work with me. So that was what informed my style for the art in this book.

Can you briefly walk us through how you create an image?

I start with a thumbnail template I created for myself. This is a bunch of boxes on a sheet of copy paper. I use 2 sheets for a standard 32 page book. I sketch my beginning ideas in pencil on this. The boxes are about the size of a business card for each 2 page spread of the book. From there I move on to half size sketches to add more details. These sketches are again redrawn at full size, with more details. I then scan each image in and draw the tight line work in Adobe Illustrator. This “inked” images are printed onto watercolor paper which I color with watercolor and color pencil. The final paintings are scanned back into digital format and final adjustments are made in Adobe Photoshop. I add details to the images at each stage except the final one.

© Wendy Martin

What projects are you working on now?

2016 has been a really exciting year for me. THE ANIMAL TOTEM MANDALA COLORING BOOK came out in January. I also self-published a coloring book on Amazon called ENCHANTED NOUVEAU, which came out in February. 

In April, I signed for representation with Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary Agency. She has already negotiated a contract with a well-known publisher for another coloring book. I’m also working on a picture book I wrote and illustrated for her to present to publishers later this summer. There is also a Secret Project Anthology Art book due out later this year in which I have an illustration.

© Wendy Martin

What advice would you give to aspiring authors and illustrators?

Draw. Draw and then draw some more. All the artists I know who have become successful are always drawing or creating. Authors should become voracious readers. Learn how others work with language. I’ve read 63 or so books so far this year, not counting picture books, which I devour in batches during an evening binge read.

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

As a teenager, I used to handle show dogs at AKC dog shows.

© Wendy Martin

Where can we find you online?

See more of my art and find out more about me at


A transplanted New Yorker now living in Missouri, Wendy Martin has been working as an illustrator for 25+ years.

Wendy’s love affair with art and illustration began at an early age. One of her earliest memories is of sitting with a pile of crayons and papers strewn around her proclaiming to her parents that someday everyone in the world would be looking at her art. In spite of her parents’ attempts to steer her toward a more practical choice, she never wanted to do anything else.

So, Wendy followed her heart and earned a degree in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology, then continued her art education at the School of Visual Arts, earning a B.F.A. in Graphic Design. These disciplines can still be seen in her work in her strong lines, textures and detailed patterns.

Co-Founder of #kidlitart Thursday night chats and the #PBDummyChallenge on Twitter.


  1. Congratulations, Wendy! Your persistence paid off!

  2. What an exciting time for Wendy! Congrats on all her achievements!

  3. Wendy, I love your illustrations!

  4. Congrats, Wendy...I LOVE your illustrations!


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