7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #267: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Maja Sereda

h1 February 5th, 2012 by jules


“This is from my first published book, titled Danie Dreyer se dinosouruseier en ander alfabetpret, written by Jaco Jacobs. It is an alphabet book, and this illustration was done for the letter ‘H,’ which is about a girl who is always late,
in spite of all the clocks on her hat (gouache on paper).”

That’s illustrator Maja Sereda speaking up there. I’m bending the rules a bit this morning with her visit. On the first Sunday of each month, I feature student or new-to-the-field illustrators, and it’s the first Sunday of February, but Maja is not exactly new to illustrating. However, she may be new to many of us readers here in the U.S., since she is from Poland and now lives and works in South Africa.

I’ll let Maja tell you about herself, and she has some more images to share below. I thank her for visiting.

Maja: Before I begin telling you about myself, I would like to thank Jules for having me on her fantastic blog. It is a great honour to be here, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about me and looking at my work.


A Kite’s Flight, 2010 (acrylic on board): “One of my favourite illustrations from the book when the kite breaks free and flies into the sky. I wanted to reflect the multicultural aspect of South Africa by showing
different arms/hands reaching out into the sky.”

(Click to enlarge)

I am a children’s book illustrator working and living in South Africa, but my roots lie in Warsaw, Poland. When I started illustrating books in 2006, it happened more or less by accident. A friend of my sister’s asked me to illustrate her family story, which I took on as a part-time project. I didn’t realise at that time that it was going to be a career-changing decision. Once I had a few illustrations in my portfolio, I decided to take a risk and approach one of the local publishers. The editor replied immediately, and I had my first real book contract within a week. I was a little overwhelmed but, more importantly, ecstatic! It has been an intense five years of extremely hard work, but I couldn’t be happier. I’ve published over 15 books (in different African languages), and I’ve managed to scoop up four awards, one of which is an SCBWI Crystal Kite award for the Africa region.


Catching Rabbits, 2007 (gouache on board): “This illustration launched my career, and it remains one of my favourites. For the background, I painted two layers of yellow and blue, which I then scraped to reveal the underneath colour.”
(Click to enlarge slightly)

I work in different media — starting from gouache, acrylic, oil, watercolour to digital colouring. I like to use different media for different projects; it keeps my work interesting. Even though my latest books, such as Haasmoles (Lapa Publishers) and Sparky (Fantasi Books), have been digitally-coloured, I always draw everything by hand using pencil and paper. I love working with my hands and would love the opportunity to paint more illustrations. Recently, I’ve started working on small watercolour artworks for children’s rooms – these are really fun to do. I get to draw cute characters and paint them any way I like.


Haasmoles, 2011 (pencil and digital colouring): “This book was really fantastic to illustrate. The story is about rabbits causing havoc inside Simon’s house. This scene is of his bedroom where he first discovers the ‘rabbit problem.’
Book has been written in Afrikaans by Jaco Jacobs.”

(Click to enlarge)

In my spare time, I’m finding myself writing more and more. I have a few stories I’m working on, so hopefully these will get published within a year or two. So far, 2012 is turning out to be a year filled with many exciting opportunities, which I hope to share with you at a later date.


Pick-a-Dream Dragon, 2011 (pencil and digital colour): “A story written by Tom Brown about a boy who can’t sleep. A Pick-a-Dream Dragon takes him
on an adventure to help him fall asleep.”

(Click to enlarge)

Thanks again to Maja for visiting. I particularly like that opening image and am wondering what I can do to secure a hat just like that.

If you would like to see more of her work, you can visit her site here, this site, or her Facebook illustration page.

* * * * * * *

All images are used with permission of Maja Sereda. She notes, for those interested, that the e-book of Pick-a-Dream Dragon can be found on www.uTales.com.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Hi, dear kickers. I have a lot of work ahead of me this month with manuscript edits, so—though I hope you leave your kicks to make the day brighter, as your kicks are wont to do—I think I’ll just leave my kicks 1-7 this morning as:

My friends. My dear, kind, giving wonderful friends, who make life good. You know who you are.

Also, my daughters, who make me laugh. Here’s the six-year-old on the 100th day of kindergarten — as a 100-year-old lady. Maybe I’m easily amused, but that just cracked me right up all day Friday.

“In my day, we didn’t have iPHONES and FACETWIT and LIBERALS.”

Okay, she didn’t really say that, but I’m imagining it. She did say, however, right as I took this photo, “GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU PUNKS.”

And what are YOUR kicks this week? Do tell. Please.

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20 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #267: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Maja Sereda”

  1. Great post, Jules! Love Maja’s giant green clock-hat!

    Rather than watching the Super Bowl, my family and I are heading to RISD to be part of a community reading of Langston Hughes’s The Dream Keeper.

    But while sports are on my mind, I must say I’ve always preferred hockey to football. Here’s my homage to the plight of the goalie:

    The Goaltender
    By Steven Withrow

    A netminder’s curse:
    To block a black puck.
    And even worse

    A slight to his pride
    Is a five-hole slapshot
    On a butterfly slide,

    Or a breakaway
    At the final flash
    Of a power play,

    Yet under his mask
    Is no sure sign
    Of his furious task

    To scrape from his crease
    Ice-crust of a loss
    With bladed release.

    His post is his nest.
    Like a shorebird,
    He barters his rest

    For what he protects.
    How he frets and he frets
    On all he deflects.

    He skulls to his stance
    For the next puck’s tap,
    Dropping his glance

    From the scoreboard above,
    Hands fixed to his stick
    And the trap of his glove.

    ©2012 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved


  2. Alphabet book? Did someone say alphabet book? Love Maja’s work; the hat is wonderful and I’ve always liked rabbits! Those arms and hands make me very happy too.

    That old lady picture is priceless. You’ve got an actress on your hands for sure.

    Happy Sunday!


  3. I love Maja’s work. I hope we get to see more of her work.
    Jules, your daughter is adorable. What a fun way to celebrate the 100th day of school.
    Steven, enjoy the Langston Hugh’s celebration.
    My kicks:
    1. Dead End at Norvelt by Jack Gantos.
    2. My nephew will finally get discharged by the Navy w/ 100% benefits due to his life threatening condition. It doesn’t change his condition but his family and he will be covered.
    3. SKYPE visit w/ Laurel Snyder and 5th graders.
    4. The weather is glorious.
    5. I interviewed Marilyn Singer for this week’s Poetry Friday.
    6. My grand girl.
    7. News about the fall writing retreat in Oregon.
    Have a great week.


  4. Happy Sunday, Jules!

    Thanks for introducing me to another very talented children’s book illustrator.

    I’ve been busy myself with manuscript revisions too–and with taking care of my little granddaughter who will be six months old tomorrow. I can’t believe how much she has grown and changed since she was born. I guess I could say that one of my favorite kicks every week is being able to spend so my time with Julia. She is the sunshine of my life.


  5. I love the illustrations. Can’t wait to see more in the future!

    And the old lady is priceless. I especially enjoy the striped sox/mary jane combo.

    For Kicks:
    1. Sunny skies
    2. Long puppy walks
    3. From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler
    4. A clean kitchen
    5. A quiet weekend
    6. Chips and dip
    7. Go Giants!!!


  6. Good morning, Imps!

    Welcome, Maja! Thanks for sharing your artwork and stories with us. I especially like the flying dragon. (S/he looks like he might be the cousin of Falkor from The NeverEnding Story and Fiddlestick from Strangewood.) Such cute little bunnies! Love the array of outstretched arms. Congratulations on your works, and best of luck with your works-in-progress!

    Jules: Good luck to you and your team as you edit the manuscript. Your 6/100 year old is adorable, as is your normally-aged daughter. 😉

    Steven: Have fun! Enjoy the sports. I’m going to see a play instead.

    Jama: If you were a cat, your ears would totally perk up at the mention of the alphabet book!

    Jone: Sending support to your nephew and his family. Yay for Laurel Snyder! Enjoy the weather.

    Elaine: Good luck with your manuscript revisions as well! Hi to the sunshine-y munchkin.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Good news for artistic friends
    2) First read-through for the musical
    3) Learning new music
    4) Meeting other people’s pets (and favoring the cats, naturally)
    5) Booked a role in a play reading
    6) Audition for narrative/stage production
    7) Trying to establish more of a presence on social networks (eek!)


  7. Put another X in the order box for that wonderful green hat; though I too would probably still run late. The runaway kite illustration brought forth a flash of that experience: unreeled string, kite growning tinier and tinier in the sky. Thanks for that memory, Maja. And I WANT that ‘rabbit problem’ book. Made me laugh (and illustration 12 on the ‘this site’ link – of the rabbit in the backseat storage pocket of the car. Ha-ha-ha!) Yep, gotta get that book and tackle Afrikaans.

    Jules – So GLAD to be back. (I had a swamped January; those dang NY’s resolutions take up a lot of time–getting into the swing of them. But I’ve got momentum now!) Adore the 100 yr. old kindergartener… (there is a book in there somewhere.) Go-go with your manuscript clean-up; how nice to have the finish line in sight.

    Steven – “His post is his nest, Like a shorebird,” and “His hands fixed to his stick And the trap of his glove.” were my favorite lines. Thanks for sharing.

    jama – Happy Sunday to you too.

    jone – gotta get Dead End. Your nephew’s situation sounds harrowing; thank him for his service. And…Which retreat, may I ask?

    Elaine – enjoy the sunshine. (I love how you phrased that feeling.)

    Stacey – I envy your clean kitchen. And puppy walks; I’m past starting that 12-year commitment once again. But I do enjoy the puppies who come play in the bluff park across the street from me.

    LW – Congrats on musical-in-progress and play-to-come. Don’t know how you’ll squeeze any more time out of the universe to do yet more networking, but I suspect you own a Time-Turner necklace like Hermione.

    My Kicks:
    1 – Glad to make it back to the illustrative richness that is Seven Imp and the camaraderie of kickers.
    2 – My 16 yr. old is upstairs studying really hard for midterms; intense, alone, no prodding. (When did that happen?) Yea for him!
    3 – Went to the wonderful retreat in Vermont that is Kindling Words East for the first time last weekend. One kindled word: “fabulous”.
    4 – Figured out a plot point that had me baffled. Drawing a map helped.
    5 – Visited an artistic collaborator; involved great conversation and aged bourbon. ; – )
    6 – Found coolest handmade dolls on Etsy for hubby’s Valentine’s gift. http://www.etsy.com/shop/TIMOHANDMADE?section_id=7547020&page=1 I sent the artist a photo and he custom made our family.
    7 – chai tea lattes. I’m on a kick.

    Have a great week everyone.


  8. Steven, enjoy the community reading! What a great idea. Thanks for the poetry. Love it when you drop off a poem here.

    Hi, Jama! The six-year-old is, indeed, made of ham, but then she clams up when people watch her, so I’m not so sure about her future life on stage.

    Jone, did you read or listen to Dead End? Love that book. GREAT news about your nephew!

    Elaine, she’s six months now? Whoa. I bet she’s a punkin’ head. (AND a puddin’ head) … Good luck with your manuscript revisions.

    Stacey, may your team win! Chips and dip sounds like the best part to me. Also, what’s better than a quiet weekend? Not much.

    Little Willow, break a leg at that audition. What new music did you learn?

    Denise, aw, thanks for kick #1. You were missed. Aged bourbon. … Mmm. OH MY GOODNESS, I like those dolls. Very unusual. Love that he made your family. Hmm…I’m bookmarking that site. … That retreat sounds wonderful. You had a good, rich week, it sounds like.


  9. LW, Which musical?
    Denise, it’s a retreat that is nonSCBWI sponosred to replace the SCBWI-OR sponsored one which was cancelled to save money.
    Jules, I listened to it and definitely need to have both book and audio, just hearing Jack read his work is so much fun. There was so much I coud relate to as we grew up in the same time period.


  10. Ooooohhh, love thos mischief making bunnies! And the flying dragon.

    Jules – Love your 100 year old kindergartner! What a crack up!

    Fly-by kicks because the sun is shining again and I need to get out into it with Cole.

    Elaine – glad you’re enjoying your granddaughter!

    Jone – great news about your nephew! Hope you are out in the sun!

    Stacey – I second your Go Giants! Let’s go Eli!

    LW – sending good luck to you, as always!

    Denise – how awesome the 16 year old is studying without prompting. And aged bourbon – yum!

    My kicks:
    1) Watched “After Dark, My Sweet” last night after discovering it on John’s blog yesterday. Damn it was good.
    2) Sleeping in after staying up late watching kick #1.
    3) Sunshine!!!!!
    4) Running with Cole to the park yesterday.
    5) Last night’s dream with a bald eagle in a blue suit and wearing spectacles, beckoning me to help him with a contract on a street corner. (Possible story out of that one.)
    6) Making a big burly DA do a double-take and blush last week after I made a slightly raunchy comment. Cracked me up.
    7) Go Giants!

    Have a wonderful amazing week everyone!


  11. My seven kicks

    1) impromptu Doctor Who marathon
    2) my oldest son reading me his latest picture book manuscript
    3) my youngest son running through the house calling for me, then seeming surprised when he found me and I wasn’t dead
    4) good coffee in the morning, afternoon and evening
    5) puppy chasing snowballs
    6) Darke for reading out loud
    7) time for painting


  12. I need a clock-hat like the one in the picture, too. The photo of your daughter as a 100 year old woman is a hoot. Thanks for posting that!

    My kicks:
    1. Kind friends’ kind words
    2. A pair of dark wash thrift store jeans that fits perfectly with no hemming
    3. Sunshine in Seattle
    4. The non-fiction picture book Next Stop Neptune: Experiencing the Solar System
    5. Ducks in neighbors’ yards
    6. Travel dreams
    7. Hattifatteners


  13. Love this illustrator right now!


  14. The Mad Hatter would dig that hat.

    Denise: Welcome back! Best of luck to your son. I sadly am not in possession of a Time-Turner, though I wouldn’t mind having one.

    Jules: Thanks! They’ve tossed out a rather wide net (both genders and a large age range) and I have no idea how many people they are considering for the role, but it was fun because I like new works and I love cold reads. Love, love, LOVE. I’m serious. The new music I learned = songs from the musical.

    Jone: The musical is an adaptation of a classic children’s book. Woot!

    Thanks, Rachel! Enjoy the sunshine and the exercise. That dream sounds like something Stephen Colbert would enjoy.

    Heather: Sounds like your family (including the pets!) are having fun! Who is your favorite Doctor?

    Farida: I had to look up “hattifatterners!”


  15. Jone, I love to hear Jack read his books.

    Rachel, I have a crush on both kicks #5 and #6.

    Hi, Heather! How old is the picture-book-writing son? That’s great.

    Farida, sunshine and ducks. That’s a painting. So are travel dreams.

    Adriana, glad you like the artwork!

    Little Willow, how’d the audition go (or is it not over yet)?


  16. Jules, I wanted to thank you for The Family Fang recommendation. Started reading it this weekend, and tonight when I got to the scene with Buster’s parents’ picking him up in the diner with their own fake injuries I started laughing out loud. Definitely enjoying it.


  17. Oh good! Let me know what you think when you’re done. The ending was not what I expected.


  18. My picture book writing son is 14. We both signed up for the 12×12 in 2012 challenge with a goal of writing a picture book manuscript every month in 2012. He has a good start with his first story and he wants to polish it up for submission.

    I’m a newbie to Doctor Who, so my favorite is the 10th. My husband has been a fan since he was wee and his favorite is the 4th.


  19. FOURTEEN? Writing a picture book manuscript every month? EXCELLENT. We have a young Kevin Henkes on our hands!


  20. Jules: Just saw your follow-up question! It went fine. Gracias.


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