Illustrator Spotlight: Sue Cottrill


© Sue Cottrill

Feb. 1, 2023

It's the first of the month, so we welcome illustrator Sue Cottrill and her banner design for Kidlit411.

© Sue Cottrill

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


I’ve worked in advertising as a designer and art director for most of my career. A few years ago, I realized “storytelling” was the throughline between my day job and my love for kids’ books. So, I decided to treat that passion as something more than a hobby. Since then, I’ve taken classes to hone my illustration and writing skills, have learned about the industry, and have read and read and read some more. 

© Sue Cottrill


Congrats on your website banner design for Kidlit411! Tell us how you approached the project.


KidLit 411 is such a great resource for sharing news and resources, I focused on “spreading the word” with the twist of seeing that happen at the global level. The KidLit 411 birds sit atop a globe, chattering away, with hearts in their eyes, as they share books and KidLit news from around the world. 


© Sue Cottrill

You are also a graphic designer and art director. How do those skills influence your children's illustration?

Both disciplines help me understand the book creation process. When I put on my art director hat, I see how illustration style elements (color, line, shape) are working to support the overall look and feel of the project. It also helps me ask the right questions to learn what the art director is looking for on an assignment and helps me realize how my work might be “right” for one type of project versus another.

With my design skills, I recognize how layout and complexity in the illustration best work with and support the text. 

© Sue Cottrill


What projects are you working on?

I’m querying and working on a series of “KidfoGraphix” (infographics for kids) for my portfolio. These are based on topics that I’ve been curious about (and think kids might be curious about too.) For example: What makes a Firefly’s light blink.

© Sue Cottrill


What is your preferred medium and illustration process?  

For concepting, I love scribbling with ball-point pen on yellow legal pads. I’ll do a pages of scribbles and once I settle on a concept/rough layout, I’ll snap a pic with my phone and pull it into Pro-create. Once it’s in Procreate, I’ll develop sketches and then move onto finished art. AND the process is always being tweaked. 

© Sue Cottrill

© Sue Cottrill


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

I have a degree in Medical Illustration and spent my early career drawing “hearts and guts and brains, oh my!”


Where can people find you online?


Sue illustrates, writes picture books and designs graphics for all things “Kid.” She is an active member of SCBWI and the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge. She also works as a freelance art director and designer for pharmaceutical, healthcare and tech companies.


When she’s not pitching and querying, she’s on the hunt for public art and murals. Her profile picture is from one of her favorite exhibits “Trolls” by Thomas Dambo. She has also never met a dog she did not like.





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