Luciana Navarro Powell grew up in Brazil and moved to the US in 2002. Drawing was a favorite past time of her childhood. She graduated with a degree in Product Design and worked as a product and graphic designer for a few years, but she was always drawing and taking freelance illustration projects on the side. Watercolor and acrylic paints were the media she used at the beginning of her career, but she eventually settled with the digital brush. Her latest projects include illustrating for toys, children's products, book apps, mural and traditional books. After illustrating for educational publications for about 10 years and being involved with children's publishing for so long, in 2011 she started to write her own stories.
For what age audience do you illustrate?
I illustrate mostly for children's fiction, usually for ages 2 through 8.
Tell us about your latest book
My latest book is called "My Mom is the Best Circus". It is a humorous take on a day in the life of a busy working mom, seen through the lenses of two kids that love the circus. From sunrise to sunset, Mom is a one-woman show: ringmaster, maestro, juggler, magician, and sometimes a clown... until bedtime come when she pulls her best stunt, the "sandman show".
Henry: I thought you said you write fiction. That sounds like a documentary of most mom's days.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
First of all I hope that kids will enjoy reading it or being read to. Besides that, maybe learn new words, enjoy the comparisons that I make in the book - perhaps inspiring them to make their own associations - and if my book can get giggles from the kids and a silent nodding smile from the moms, even better. It is an homage to all moms.
Henry: The silent mom nod is better than the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.
What aspect of illustrating do you find most challenging?
The most challenging aspect of illustrating in my opinion is to keep it fresh, but at the same time being consistent with your illustrative "voice". Just like writing, illustrators have a visual voice of their own, that is usually called "style". I believe we have to keep challenging ourselves to evolve, and sometimes getting out of our visual comfort zone can be challenging. Another aspect of the career that can be challenging is to get a steady flow of work. That is, not "feast or famine": too little work or too much work. Time teaches you to manage it better, but it is always unpredictable to some degree.
Henry: Those are challenges that authors share with illustrators.
What is a powerful lesson you've learned from being an illustrator?
That persistence and quality always pay off. I went through some years of not having much commissioned work, but I kept doing portfolio pieces and striving to improve, even with no job in sight. Eventually clients will find your work and good projects will come your way.
Henry: Yes, the cream rises to the top.
Click to read the complete interview at Henry Herz's blog on fantasy and science fiction books for kids.