7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #528: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Madeline Zuluaga

h1 April 2nd, 2017 by jules


Today, because it’s the first Sunday of the month (happy April!), I’ve got a student illustrator here at 7-Imp. Her name is Madeline Zuluaga, and she shares both art and words this morning.

Madeline sent me some specific images for this post, but I also got her permission to share some other pieces of artwork from her website — in order to see more of her range. She let me pick what I want for those images, and I thank her.

Let’s get right to it so that we can hear more from her and see some more art. If you want to see even more from Madeline, her Tumblr is here, and you can see more art here on Instagram.

* * *

Madeline: When my sister was a kid, she had a Madeline rag doll from Ludwig Bemelmans’ children’s books. She loved that doll so much she asked my mom to name me Madeline. She honored my sister’s pure request; I became Madeline. Since I’m Spanish, my name is pronounced as Mad-a-lynn. This differed from the pronunciation in the iconic “I’m Madeline!” song from the famous animated series. The cartoon girl and I pronounced our names differently, despite the same spelling, but her song’s message—I was very small, but inside I felt tall—was me all the same.



A smile settled on my face thinking about this sweet family moment. Named after a children’s book character, trying to create worlds for children now, it felt like my name was an unintentional purpose unraveling itself as I accepted its fate.


(Click second image to enlarge)


Late into my college career at School of Visual Arts, I realized I wanted to be a storyteller. Subconsciously, I knew, but I’d put the feeling aside, because the college I went to focused heavily on editorial illustration. It was not to say that teachers were not encouraging the dormant storyteller in me. Teachers would tell me: “Draw what you want! Don’t draw what you think illustration should be.” I didn’t listen. I kept trying to figure out what my teachers “really” wanted or do what the art world was ooo’ing and aww’ing about.



There’s this long period of being lost after you graduate. I was lucky enough to have had illustration/comic work to occupy me during the summer. However, no one really speaks about this period of wandering. It’s a state of limbo and drifting that traps you in an insecure place. Questions of doubt come in: How will I make money? Why did I choose this career? Was that one job just a fluke? During this time, I realized it’s best to just work your way out of it. I started from scratch; I went back to my roots. I grew up loving anime. I put its influences back in my art. I loved silly animals, so I drew my animals extra funny-looking. I stopped concerning myself over what I thought illustration should be or what teachers said I should do. What I was excited about and loved was watercolors, capybaras, and vegetables.



I put these interests to work in David Soman’s children’s book class. I created a story about a turnip girl and her turnip family who had to emigrate to new land aboard their capybara friend. I named it Capybara Ferry. My mom’s immigration story and the immigrant community I was surrounded by in New York City inspired it. The resilience this community had was beautiful. I wanted to put their vividness in my own characters and story, especially during a time when they are being attacked and targeted. This project was one of the first long-term endeavors I was proud of and influenced the future direction in my art.



In drawing what I love once again, putting aside that instinctual desire to please everyone, art-making became fulfilling again. My goal as of now: I want my work to leave a smile on someone’s face. I hope my work and stories reach those that need repose from their struggles. I definitely want to be that artist who makes work a person finds comfort and happiness from. I’ll keep working hard to reach and go beyond this point.



My seven kicks!

1) My best friend, who lives and works in Japan now, surprise-visited me for my birthday in early March! There were lots of happy tears.

2) Having such lovely friends who are so thoughtful.

3) I have a table at MoCCA! J-284 — it’s from April 1-2, so if you see this on time on Sunday, I hope to see you there, hahaha.

4) I had stickers and prints made to sell, and I’m so happy they printed beautifully.

5) My Kerascoët Paper Dolls book my boyfriend got me for my birthday.

6) Playing around with filming equipment to make art videos.

7) So happy and humbled to be here. Thanks, Jules!

All images used by permission of Madeline Zuluaga.

* * *

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. New kickers are always welcome.

* Jules’ Kicks *

1) I’m grateful my family and I can pull off vacations every now and then.

2) While in California this past week, we got to spend two days with two excellent friends, Tanita and David.

3) We spent most of our time near the ocean. The ocean makes me happy.

4) But then we headed into the desert. Joshua Tree is gorgeous.

5) But even more gorgeous were the stars at night at Joshua Tree. HOLY WOW, you all.

6) On our trip, I devoured Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West. So good.

7) Home!

BONUS) This is the second time a visiting illustrator has shared her own kicks. I love it.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

13 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #528: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Madeline Zuluaga”

  1. Thank you for sharing Madeline Zuluaga with us! I look forward to seeing her work in books. I
    Madeline, where can you get your stickers and print?
    Jules, so glad you had a great vacation. Beach and desert, both my faves. When I was little, Dad would cut off the end of a Joshua tree branch, sprayed it gold, and then put little colored Christmas balls. He’d take put the metal hanger and place on the pokey end. It was quite the festive holiday decoration in the 50’s.
    My kicks:
    1. Happy Gonzaga won. Sad about the Ducks.
    2. Spring break!
    3. Day trip to the coast today.
    4. Poetry post cards ready to mail.
    5. Collaborating with another writer/photographer for National Poetry Month.
    6. A new acupuncturist.
    7. Time to read.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good morning, Imps! Happy April!

    Hello, Madeline! Love the story behind your name. Yay for those that stand up for themselves. Also, those are some pretty cute capybaras. Have fun at MoCCA!

    Jules: Yay for vacation, and the ocean! Glad you all had fun. (Hi Tanita & David!)

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Assertion
    2) Music
    3) Clarification
    4) Support
    5) Scheduled
    6) Sweet
    7) Sanity

  3. Jone: Enjoy your Spring Break and the coast! Is it too late to request a poetry postcard? (And I have a different address — as of last July, that is.)

    Little Willow: Speaking of music, I think I’m going to get Aimee Mann’s new CD. Heard it yet? (I haven’t, but I do always like her stuff.)

    Have a good week, you two!

  4. Congratulations on being featured, Madeline, and thank you Jules for featuring this wonderful artist! Madeline, your art work is and always has been so beautiful and your personal story and the stories you create are so inspiring!

    I am so excited to see everything you create from here on out and all of your future success!


  5. HI Madeline! I love your capybaras! (I love capybaras in general, and yours are extra cute.) I also really love how dynamic your characters are. Thanks for sharing your artwork, I look forward to seeing more of it!

    Jules – so glad your vacation trip was great – it certainly looked that way in the pictures you shared! I’ll have to add Exit West to the very large pile of TBR books.

    Jone – I am echoing Jules with a poetry postcard request. Enjoy the coast today!

    LW – hooray for Assertion, Clarification, Support, and Sweet Sanity!

    My quick kicks:
    1) Sunshine this morning, finally!
    2) Reading “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. I’m a little over halfway through and really loving the main character and her voice.
    3) Looking forward to having time in the future to watch Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why.”
    4) Selena Gomez, who spent 7 years trying to get “13 Reasons Why,” made and is a producer, released a very nice cover of Yaz’s “Only You”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDYoG7p4H74
    5) Very productive work week.
    6) Excited for another busy and hopefully productive week.
    7) This 14 minute doc about Arthur, the stray dog from South America who joined an adventure race team: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi37_GYRYCs
    7.5) Daisy sunning on the back patio.

    Happy Spring everyone! Have a great week!

  6. Rachel, my other vacation read was The Hate U Give, but I’m not done yet. I really like it too. …. Thanks for the documentary link! … Sweet Daisy. I love to see pets lying in the sun. The girls were so happy to see our cat again after a week away.

  7. p.s. Rachel: EXIT WEST is a quick read, on account of it being a) short and b) unputdownable (or so I thought).

  8. Rachel: I’m halfway through both the series and my re-reading of the book.

    Jules: I haven’t heard it. Did you get the Elbow CD yet? It’s so good.

  9. Jules – great, I’ll make sure to put Exit West higher up on the list.

    LW – how is it holding up? Its been years since I read it and that book was a big hit with a bunch of then-teenagers I gifted it to.

  10. Jules , email your address to me.

  11. Little Willow: I STILL DO NOT HAVE THAT CD. What is wrong with me? I’ll fix that soon! Sometimes, I’m just slow.

    Jone: Will do. Thanks!

    Rachel: Hope you enjoy the novel. I also devoured S-Town (the podcast) in the past couple of days, and that is staying with me too — they are both stories (EXIT WEST and S-Town, that is) so sad and beautiful at the same time.

  12. Jone: Because I had never heard of Gonzaga University prior to reading your comments, I read/heard “Happy Gonzaga” first as a pleased declaration, an exclamation of good wishes (like Happy Thanksgiving!) and then again as more of a sigh.

    Rachel: I just finished the series as well as the half-hour special entitled Beyond the Reasons. I’ll resume reading the book tomorrow. I really hope – as I know they have, and they will – both the book and the series continue to inspired people to actively reach out to others and find the strength and courage to speak up.

  13. Jone: Thank you so much for the lovely comment. It fills my heart. I was selling my stickers and prints at a New York city comic convention over the weekend. I have no online store yet. (Plan to open one up in the next two weeks) I will update when it’s up on my instagram! Please keep an eye out 😉

    Annemarie: I have the loveliest best friend. Thank you for always being so beautiful.

    Little Willow, Rachel: Thank you for the beautiful comments as well. I’m happy to hear the capybaras are a hit. X)

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