Illustrator Spotlight: Sheila Keegan


© Sheila Keegan

 March 1, 2023

It's the first of the month, so we are pleased to feature illustrator Sheila Keegan and her banner design for Kidlit411!

© Sheila Keegan

Welcome, Sheila! Please tell us about yourself and how you came to illustrate for children.

Hi, I’m Sheila Keegan. Thanks for having me. As a kid, I loved reading and often made miniature books for my dolls to read, too. Growing up, I knew I wanted to be in a creative field. Eventually, I went to art school and majored in product design. After graduating, I caught the ‘travel bug’ and for several years worked freelance design jobs in between periods of traveling and living abroad. In 2004, I was living in Phuket, Thailand when my sister became pregnant. I flew home for the birth, which luckily saved me from the tsunami!

© Sheila Keegan


Spending time with my little niece, reading her picture books, reacquainted me with the world of children’s books. I was inspired to take up painting again. My artwork had a narrative and child-friendly quality. A few years later, I was living in Beijing and a few of my paintings were in a group show at the now-defunct Children’s Art Gallery. I was approached by an art director from a children’s publishing company to illustrate a picture book. I saw how my work was a natural fit for children’s illustration and decided to begin pursuing illustration as a career. 


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


I’m a bird lover and in the past had lovebirds and parrotlets as pets. I enjoyed listening to their chatter, and their conversations with one another. I imagined what it would look like if birds came together from all over the world to share ideas about writing and illustration, much like the sharing of information and ideas on Kidlit411.

© Sheila Keegan


What projects are you working on?


Right now I’m making new portfolio pieces, refining picture book manuscripts, and painting commissions of pet portraits on the side.

© Sheila Keegan


What is your preferred medium and illustration process?  


Working with my hands using traditional materials is the heart of my process. I love creating with gouache, watercolor, acrylic, and colored pencil, in combination with cut paper collage. I work traditionally as much as possible before scanning, assembling, and adding finishing touches in Photoshop.

© Sheila Keegan


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


I love gardening, especially growing unusual fruits like paw paws, persimmons, and cold hardy figs.

© Sheila Keegan


Where can people find you online?


Illustration website:


Pet Portrait Illustration website:

Pet Portrait Illustration Instagram:





Sheila Keegan is a children's book illustrator and writer. She grew up in a multiracial family, and is excited to illustrate diversity and different cultures. She hopes children will see themselves in her illustrations and feel empowered. 


Her illustrations have appeared in: They Draw and Travel: Book of Favorite Places, Uppercase Magazine, and in galleries in the U.S. and Asia. She is a graduate of the Columbus College of Art and Design and is an active member of SCBWI.


Sheila is an avid traveler, gardener, and enjoys painting portraits of pets wearing interesting attire. She lives with her family in Cleveland, Ohio.


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