This Women’s History Month, we’ve had the honor of working with three incredible artists and illustrators to feature books about inspirational women past and present. With the help of our designers, we highlighted brave, bold, and world-changing women like Malala Yousafzai, Sojourner Truth, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Scholastic Book Fairs Facebook and Instagram accounts!
We’re thrilled to introduce you to the designers behind our Women's History Month features: Carolyn Suzuki, Jordan Sondler, and Lindsey Balbierz. Learn more about what inspires their work and the advice they have for kids who want to create!
What sparked your interest in design?
Jordan: I started creating as a little kid and really never stopped. After school art classes, eating every lunch in the art room, pursuing a degree in illustration, and striking out as a full time freelance illustrator seven years ago got me to where I am now!
Lindsey: My high school, Beaumont School, in Cleveland Ohio, has a Studio Art program, which provided me a 4 year art curriculum alongside a Math, Science, Literature, and Theology curriculum. I knew I loved to draw. I am really privileged that my high school education was a priceless foundation to pursue art college and furthermore, a career as an illustrator.
Carolyn: All of the wonderfully designed objects and accessories I collected from the Sanrio Store (Japanese stationery brand) when I was a kid.
What do you like the most about being an artist/illustrator?
Jordan: My job is to spread a message or convey a thought through visuals. I get to tell my story or my point of view, and make it exciting and thought provoking—yet palatable. Sometimes you are tricking people into seeing your side of things.
Lindsey: My favorite thing about being an illustrator is that it allows me to keep learning with the different briefs that I am sent. One day I was illustrating a piece for a podcast on how to compost food scraps. That was very informative to learn why composting is so important for our environment. The next day I was researching about Tanzanian culture for a brief. I was researching how to accurately illustrate Tanzanian dress, social interactions and homes. When you receive a brief, I think it's paramount to research as best as you can to accurately depict a topic without stereotyping.
Carolyn: The autonomy to work on the projects that move me, the feedback, and the connections I make with those who say that they see themselves in my work!
Is there a woman in your life or history that inspired or influenced who you are today?
Jordan: I am sure this comes as no surprise, but my mother has had the biggest influence on who I am today. She raised three girls on her own, and is thriving. Everything I know about resilience I have learned from watching her.
Lindsey: My mom. She raised three girls on her own, while going back to grad school to better her career. Her tenacity and strength are inspiring to me.
Carolyn: Martha Stewart and Oprah.
Do you have a favorite book?
Jordan: My favorite books are the Amelia's Notebooks series!
Lindsey: Some of my favorite contemporary children's books that combine a great narrative with beautiful illustrations are Swarm of Bees, Home, and All the Ways to Be Smart. The classic children's books illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa, Richard Scarry, and Eric Carle are also some of my favorites.
Carolyn: Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations And Reflections On And Off The Court
What is one thing you have to have to help get creative juices flowing, or a ritual you have when you’re creating?
Jordan: I need a never ending glass of iced tea, a nice smelling candle, and my dog by my side.
Lindsey: I light a candle and listen to music and start to draw. Over the years, I have grown to know that I need to just start drawing. I am conscientious that the first few drawings will be crummy but I have to work through this warm up phase to get into my drawing zone. After I warm up, the drawing magic happens!
Carolyn: A clean house and desk! It often causes a delay in getting the work started because, ya know, it takes a while to get all the stuff picked up!
Jordan, your art has a lot of positive messaging about loving yourself and mental health. What message would you share with children who are interested in creating, themselves?
Jordan: To every child out there—I hope you'll make art! Whether you want to build your life around being an artist, or you want to use creativity as an outlet. I think we can all be more in touch with our feelings through creative expression. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks, just create!!
Lindsey, we want wallpaper made out of your designs! What inspires your creativity?
Lindsey: My little grumpy Shih Tzu, Colin. My son. The tugboats I see on the East River. I try to keep my eyes open and look at what people are doing. I take mental snapshots of many interactions and occurrences that can be translated into a sketch.
Carolyn, you use your art to support causes you care about, including female empowerment. What advice would you give young people who are interested in/want to pursue creative forms of activism?
Carolyn: Don't overthink it, think about others you want to help, and focus on why you are compelled to use your art as a form of service. This will help to neutralize the self-doubt and too much ruminating about the quality of your work or how it will be perceived. Make sure to do your research if you're going to speak on a subject that you yourself have not experienced.
Visit our Scholastic Book Fairs on Facebook to see more of their beautiful designs and find empowering books on women’s history.