Illustrator Spotlight: Maryam Khalifah


© Maryam Khalifah

Dec. 1, 2021

We are excited to feature illustrator Maryam Khalifah, who designed our December website banner.

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

Hello everyone! Sending love and greetings from London, England! My name is Maryam. I am half Mauritian and half English. Growing up in a multi-racial family is awesome! It means I can enjoy a delicious fusion of Indo Mauritian and English foods such as briyani, lentil and moong dhal curries, roasts with additional Indian spices and celebrate Eid and Christmas with my extended family!

© Maryam Khalifah

I have always loved children's picture books and chapter books and especially loved Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit series and Quentin Blake's humourous, quirky illustrations as a child. When I was younger, I remember noticing that I couldn't see my family represented in picture books. After working as a teacher for 10 years, I strongly realised how important it was for children to be able to see themselves represented in stories. 

I have witnessed this beautiful feeling of pride, joy and love in my students, when they see themselves in a book that is celebrating them: their culture, their traditions, their family, their language, their home and their skin colour. I have loved reading All the Colours of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka, Skin Again by Bell Hooks and other traditional tales from around the world to my students! In the classroom, it has sparked interesting conversations, poetry and wonderful artwork! See below:


 Congratulations on your banner design for Kidlit411! How did you approach this project?


When I drew the banner, I was teaching in Vietnam, and my students were the inspiration. I LOVE Vietnam and love it's people, traditions and food! Each year, there are dragon and lion dances to celebrate TET; the Vietnamese New Year Celebration, and Moon Festival (a mid-autumn festival) where families hang lanterns, sing and enjoy mooncakes made from yellow mung beans and egg. 

Whenever my students would see the dragon dance, they would want to pet and touch the dragon. For this reason, when creating the banner, I decided to draw children from around the world enjoying a ride on a dragon!


Who or what inspires you?

So many things inspire me, but one of my favorites is nature. I love sunlight and patterns found in the natural world around me. I am definitely inspired by other artists, and often look at Vincent Van Gogh, Gustav Klimt, Claude Monet and others because I love the movement captured, use of colour, composition and light. I simply adore the illustrations of Lauren Child and Neal Layton because of the incredible way they use scanned textures and photographs in their work to tell stories.

© Maryam Khalifah


What is your favorite medium and what is your illustration process?

I love using mixed media and will often include scanned fabric, sequins, glitter and photographs to build up layers of texture. 

© Maryam Khalifah


What projects are you working on now?

While my incredible agent sends out my portfolio, and a picture book I illustrated, to publishers, I am creating some digital art as a way to raise money for charities close to my heart, one of them being an orphanage in Nepal.

© Maryam Khalifah


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

When I was younger, I used to leave the bedroom window slightly open hoping Peter Pan would fly in! 

© Maryam Khalifah


Where can people find you online?

You can find more information about me at my website: as well as on Instagram:

© Maryam Khalifah



Maryam Khalifah is a member of AOI and SCBWI and has a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Illustration from Middlesex University. Coming from a multiracial background, Maryam is a huge proponent of seeing those from similar minority backgrounds represented in her artwork; as such, she loves illustrating diverse and multiracial characters like herself. Most recently Maryam was teaching primary school abroad in Vietnam. Now back home in England, when she's not illustrating, she can be found enjoying walks through her local forest (conveniently located opposite her house!), going to yoga classes, and diving into a wonderful book with a good cup of tea. 



  1. Maryam, your illustrations are just gorgeous! The banner you designed is luminous--so beautiful! Congratulations!

  2. Love your banner! And your gorgeous illustrations! Congrats!

  3. Congratulations! Beautiful banner and illustrations.


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