Illustrator Spotlight: Åsa Gilland


© Åsa Gilland

July 28, 2022

We are excited to feature illustrator Åsa Gilland and her recent picture book, A GRANDMA'S MAGIC, written by Charlotte Offsay (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, April 2022). Enter to win a copy!

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

I’m Åsa Gilland, I’m originally from Sweden but I have lived in Indonesia for the better half of my life. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I came to Indonesia to do my master and then stayed on working in packaging and graphic design.  Gradually I took on more and more illustration jobs, which is really where my passion lies. I have always gravitated towards children’s literature.


Congrats on your recent picture book, Grandma's Magic! Tell us about the story and how you approached the illustrations.

© Åsa Gilland

Thank you! I was fortunate to grow up with two grandmothers who were very different and made my childhood magic each in their own way. My Farmor (father’s mother in Swedish) loved reading to us and brought art into my life as she was an avid painter herself. My Mormor (mother’s mother) shared her love for cooking, baking and pretend play and her home was always a soft, warm place to land. I tried to bring the feeling of spending time with them into the artwork and to show how the uniqueness of different grandmothers can bring their own special magic, whatever that may be, to a child’s life.

© Åsa Gilland


Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

It was quite long and I worked for a long time in packaging and graphic design before finding my way here. I always knew I wanted to illustrate for children’s literature. In 2018 I took part in the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search and was fortunate enough to be taken on as one of the artists to be represented by Lilla Rogers Studio. That was really what made a difference, to have a great agent by my side. At age 48 I received my first children’s book job and by now I'm lucky enough to have illustrating children’s books as a fulltime gig. I have illustrated about 20 books these past years.


What projects are you working on now?

I’m currently working on a lovely Duopress Labs board book about house pets in their Terra Babies at Home series that will be published in April 2023. Also another fantastic project with Raspberry Books illustrating Tracey Turner’s book Celebrate With Us, about different celebrations around the world that will be published by Macmillan spring 2023.

© Åsa Gilland


What is your typical illustration process? 

I love doing research but try to schedule it and limit my time to collect inspiration. I might take pictures of different body poses to work them out or find reference pictures on line.

© Åsa Gilland

I will start out with a color palette and often sketch in color from the start. I do all of my illustration on a tablet and add hand drawn textures and accents as I finish up the layout in photoshop.

© Åsa Gilland


What are one or two pieces of advice you'd give for aspiring illustrators?

If you are just starting out, be versatile. Try a lot of things, explore different styles and try new techniques. After you’ve gained experience, try to develop your own unique style, something that feels organic to yourself.


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

That I have been obsessed with history my whole life and got into genealogy when I was 11-12 year old. I used to spend my childhood Saturdays at our small town library going through microfilmed church registers side by side with a group of pensioners. Such fun!


Where can people find you online?

At my agent: 

On  my website: 
And on instagram: 




 Åsa Gilland is a Swedish illustrator and surface designer living in Jakarta, Indonesia. Her thematic works are influenced by Scandinavian and Indonesian folk arts. Åsa loves all things retro, quirky imagery and folk art themes. She studied interior design at Accademia Italiana Moda and has 25 years of experience in surface design and illustration. 

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  1. Thank you for this interesting interview! Congratulations on your books! Wonderful artwork!

  2. Can’t wait to read this!

  3. Looks great! And love the opening self portrait!


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