Illustrator Spotlight: Sarah LuAnn Perkins

© Sarah LuAnn Perkins

July 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 Sarah LuAnn Perkins and her work.

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

My mom claims she raised an illustrator on purpose. I can’t disagree. I have a very clear memory of asking her to read me THE OX CART MANT by Barbara Cooney as a kid. Before opening it, she pointed to the gold sticker on the front. “You see that? That is a Caldecott medal. They give those to the books with the very best illustrations. Pay very close attention to the pictures while I read it!”

© Sarah LuAnn Perkins

So with my moms encouragement I grew up drawing, and reading, and drawing, and reading. Though I absolutely loved art and creating, I think I most deeply identified myself back then as a reader. I liked to wear overalls because they had pockets big enough to carry a novel in. When I had to go to a party, I brought a book with me just in case it got boring (which it probably would, right?)

And after I read a book, I would draw pictures of the characters and scenes. One led to the other—reading turned to drawing very naturally for me. Strangely, it didn’t really sink in that illustration was a career I could pursue until it came time to choose a major for college, but when I saw it on the list I knew it was for me, and I’ve never looked back.

Congrats on your Kidlit411 banner. Tell us how you approached this project.

For me, this contest was a chance to experiment with my process and style while fulfilling an “assignment,” but without much pressure. In particular, I wanted to experiment with white outlines, birds-eye-view perspective, and manipulating type, so I incorporated all those into the design. Some of them worked quite well while others did not come out as I hoped--I’ll openly admit that I really love some parts of this banner, while other parts I don’t. However, I learned a lot in the process so it was a success in that way. 

© Sarah LuAnn Perkins

Concept wise, I wanted to express that reading was for everyone, of any size or age (Or species ;-)). I liked the idea of a kid pointing out a book they were interested in reading, and having an adult bring that story to them. To me, that is part of the magic of kidlit, and it’s also part of what I appreciate about this awesome Kidlit411 resource—to me, it’s about adults working to bring great books to children.

We have been long time fans of your illustrations, which have such a unique look. Tell us about your illustration process.

I first started experimenting with this process when I illustrated online courses for my student job. I had been assigned to illustrate a World History course and wanted to find an old-fashioned looking style to use for the images. I decided to emulate the illustrations of a book I remembered my mom reading to me as a child--Dick Whittington and His Cat by Marcia Brown. (Again with my mom and the Caldecotts). The book is illustrated using linocuts in just two colors. 

For those who don’t know--a linocut is a type of print created with linoleum. An artist will carve away from the linoleum the parts of the image they don’t want to have color. Ink is applied to the linoleum with a roller, which will only touch the raised shapes, leaving the cutaway pieces blank. Paper is then pressed onto the surface, creating the final print. 

I wanted to figure out a way to imitate, as well as I could, the process and look of a traditional linocut print using vectors (my preferred digital art medium.) I start with a solid block of color, and then erase away the pieces of the shape that I don’t want to appear in my design. Between the erased strokes, sometimes a fleck of color remains, giving the pieces their unique texture and handmade feel--linocut artists call those little bits of color “chatter”. Sometimes I’ll also add a bit of texture to imitate the look of uneven ink application. 

© Sarah LuAnn Perkins

The World History Illustrations worked well, but I moved on to other styles after that project. It wasn’t until a few years later that I decided to try using that approach again…. and never stopped. I still can’t wait to get to the ‘cutting out’ step when I’m designing a new image!

© Sarah LuAnn Perkins

Tell us about your work with Cricut Cartridges.

For those who don’t know, a Cricut is an electronic die-cutting machine. Crafters use them to cut paper, fabric, vinyl, and other materials into shapes to make crafts, art, and decorations. The original machines used “cartridges” containing the cuttable image files that had to be plugged into the machines--now, they’re all distributed digitally. I was hired by Cricut because my portfolio was full of vector-based digital art, which is they type of file a Cricut can read. 

I’ve done a whole lot of fun projects for Cricut, but I don’t want to bore you, so I’ll just talk about a couple favorites. 

My very first cartridge felt a bit like a “trial by fire” because I was asked to create a set of 3D flowers, not just 2D images. It was a challenge but I’m really proud of many of the flowers I created--some of my favorites are the chrysanthemum, the ranunculus, the sunflower, and the pinecone. That project became the 3D Floral Home Decor cartridge, and is still one of my favorite projects, ever. 

© Sarah LuAnn Perkins

Once when I was between larger projects my supervisor asked me to design a few cards. There was no specific plan for them, just a chance to play and get a few easy projects for Cricut users. One of the cards I designed was a simple “Hello” card featuring a rotary phone. They loved it! It was selected from the thousands of images they have in their catalogue as the “first project” to be included with all new Cricut purchases, so now I see that Hello card everywhere. It’s fun to see something I designed being used and enjoyed so widely by so many people. 

© Sarah LuAnn Perkins

What projects are you working on now?

I’m working on putting together my third picture book dummy, and I think it will be my best yet! (Of course, I always think my current project will be the best one, I’m sure I’m not alone in this!) I also have a couple more dummy ideas I’m really excited about, as well as the pearl of an idea for a middle grade graphic novel I want to start on soon. On top of all that, I recently got myself a tablet and pencil and I’ve been working on learning to use Procreate--while vectors have my heart, I’m learning to play the raster game as well. ;-)

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

I love social dancing! In highschool my best friends were in a Scandinavian Folk Dancing group. We would practice weekly and perform at various events. (We referred to it as “Scandi Dancing” for short when talking among ourselves, which got some weird looks.) That led us into other social dancing, in particular Swing dancing and Lindy Hop. 

Where can people find you online?

My website is On twitter, instagram and facebook, my username is SarahLuAnnArt. 

Sarah LuAnn Perkins creates charming illustrations with a classic children's book vibe. Her work has an handmade printmaking look, so many are surprised to learn that her illustrations are created almost entirely on a computer. Steampunk, folk, and fairy tales are common sources of inspiration, though any good story will do. She enjoys creating work full of wit, wonder, and whimsy.

Sarah grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and received a BFA in illustration from Brigham Young University. She now lives in Upstate NY with her husband and two kids. She is a member of SCBWI, acting as the Illustration Coordinator for the Eastern NY region.


  1. I love learning more about Sarah, wow, what an amazing life! I adore how your mom inspired you and what cool things you've done already, can't wait to see where else you'll go!

  2. So awesome! I love to see the process of that adorable octopus that I have always loved. Yeay!

  3. It's so much fun to see other illustrators process. Love the linocut look.


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