Illustrator Spotlight: Kelly Mangan

© Kelly Mangan

 Oct. 1, 2022

We are pleased to feature illustrator Kelly Mangan and her banner design for Kidlit411's website. She was one of the winners chosen from our 2022 Banner Contest. Welcome, Kelly!

© Kelly Mangan

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

© Kelly Mangan

Growing up, I lived on a steady diet of Marvel comics. I loved drawing my favorite super heroines in my own, homemade comics! But the way people talked about art when I was younger-- as some intangible, innate quality that you either had or didn't-- it led me to believe that I could never be a "real" artist. Whatever that is. So I stopped. I stopped making art. For decades. After my kids were born, I followed my other creative passion, which was writing, and began authoring children's books. And then, two years ago, an author friend told me she was taking classes to learn illustration. This probably sounds silly and super-obvious, but that was the first time it dawned on me: "Hey, illustration is something you could learn, goofy!" And the more I got to know KidLit illustrators and hear about their process, the more I realized I could be a "real" artist. It just takes persistence, hard work, and the confidence to try. So I set out to do that.  


Congrats on your banner design! Tell us what inspired you.

Thank you so much! I started with the “birds on a wire” theme, but I knew I wanted to feature a diverse group of kids instead of animals. I'm particularly interested in seeing more body diversity in children's literature, as fat kids are often left out (or if they are included, they're usually portrayed as bullies, villains, or buffoons). So it was a conscious decision on my part to center the illustration around a fat child. Then I asked myself, "How do creators benefit from KIDLIT411?" That's what informed the children's actions/personalities: For some people, it's a place to work on their craft (i.e. the child working on the tear in their costume). For some, it's a place to meet KidLit colleagues and share industry gossip. For others, it's simply a place to share their love of children's literature (hence the kids holding two of my favorite MG books: Starfish by Lisa Fipps and A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat)!


What is your preferred medium and illustration process?

© Kelly Mangan

At the moment, I prefer a digital drawing pad and ClipStudio Paint for illustration. In the past year, I've gotten a lot more comfortable with this medium, particularly in the initial, sketching phase (that "undo" button is FANTASTIC). This particular illustration, however, started its life on paper. The children were all done in ink and watercolor. The majority of the fence, the background, shadows, lighting etc were painted digitally. I actually learned a lot about digital painting from working on this piece!  


What projects are you working on now?

©Kelly Mangan

I finished my first picture book dummy this past Spring. Now my focus is finishing edits on my middle grade novel. And, of course, seeking representation (which feels like the more daunting project! Ha)!  


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

© Kelly Mangan

I LOVE pickled eggs (...I can feel you judging me...). 


Ha, we're not judging you! Where can people find you online?

I am primarily on Twitter, at @KellyAMangan. I have an Instagram (@HeartNsnark), which I should probably update more regularly. I don't typically use Facebook for much beyond giving my elder relatives access to baby pictures.  Oh, and I have a website too:




  1. Wow, great illustrations! Love the banner! Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Well, I hit the wrong button. I just commented above. :) Great work!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.


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