7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #640: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Heidi Aubrey

h1 June 2nd, 2019 by jules

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It’s the first Sunday of the month (hello, June), which means I’ve a visit from a student or newly-graduated illustrator. This morning, I’ve illustrator Heidi Aubrey. She studied at the ArtCenter College of Design and has just signed with an agent. Heidi sent along some art, as well as a bit about herself, and I thank her for sharing this morning.

* * *

Heidi: Picture books are these little gems — a whole world in just a few pages. Everything is distilled to its essence, but then the story opens itself up and all these layers emerge. I like that there’s this challenge to create a narrative that resonates on multiple readings and that, ideally, it makes both a 4-year old and 40-year-old catch their breath.



[Studying at ArtCenter College of Design was] brutally hard — but also one of the best times of my life. You’re pushed on every front — technical skill, speed of execution, exploration of materials and style, decision-making. It’s also very process-oriented and keyed to professional practices. When I was researching schools, I kept noticing that many of my favorite artists had attended ArtCenter — among them, Marla Frazee. And then I learned that Marla was still teaching there. Getting to her became a mission. And then studying under her was life-changing. I’ve been incredibly fortunate that she’s continued to mentor me as I launch an illustration career of my own.


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Marla inspires me. I look at her books constantly. I lose myself in her work. Other really important illustrators for me are Garth Williams, Hilary Knight, Freya Blackwood, and Lisbeth Zwerger. There are a ton more, of course, but there’s pretty much always a book by one of these five illustrators on my desk. Also, the woods inspire me. I grew up in a rural area just outside Portland, Oregon. My husband and I recently moved back, and now we have a few acres on a creek. It’s magical, but life is more complicated, and it’s a lot of hard work. That tension seems to figure prominently in my stories right now.



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I use traditional materials and then refine with digital touch-ups. Everything I do starts with pencil on paper — often layers and layers of tracing paper! I paint with Schmincke watercolors, usually on Arches or Fabriano paper. As for pencils, I’ve gravitated to Staedtler drafting pencils. I like the graphite range, the ease of sharpening, and the fact that the length and weight of the drawing tool remains constant. I’m also deeply in love with the Tombow eraser sticks.



I’m represented by Jenna Pocius at Red Fox Literary. I’m thrilled and grateful to have found a partner like her. She understands my work and what I’m trying to do, and her editorial sense is focused on the emotional core of the story and how well it’s being communicated. She’s also highly collaborative during the submissions process, as well as transparent about each step. I’ve gotten advice that a relationship with an agent should feel like two friends working on a project together. I have that.



I’m [currently] on submission with a book about a goat who takes over a woman’s creaky farmhouse. The story is inspired by an old homestead I used to walk past on my way to school. A woman lived in the house, and the goats would hang out on the roof, so we called it “the goat house.” It’s a fond memory, and I wanted to explore the idea of just how you might end up with a goat house — and a goat lady.


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All images used by permission of Heidi Aubrey.

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 like the warm colors of Heidi’s palette.

2) I love this ALA video, which highlights a library colleague here in middle Tennessee, whom I know does fabulous work. Now everyone can see it for themselves.

3) And here are Nashville libraries in the news again!

4) A delicious meal with a friend.

5) Buttermilk pie.

6) The first week of my picture book grad course seems to have gone well, and no students ran away screaming.

7) My students are from all over and with all kinds of interesting backgrounds, and they seem excited to read lots of picture books.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

11 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #640: Featuring
Up-and-Coming Illustrator Heidi Aubrey”

  1. Heidi’s art is gorgeous; great to see it featured here.

    Jules, you’re doing a PB Grad course?? Running to look up more about this now.

  2. Hi, Lori! It’s a grad course for the University of Tennessee’s Information Sciences program (my alma mater, actually). I’m a Lecturer and teach this every other year. It’s fun! I ask my students to read 300 picture books in one summer. (There’s other stuff, too, but that’s the BIG assignment.) They seem to enjoy it. I want them to immerse themselves in all things picture books.

    Have a good week!

  3. Good morning, Imps!

    Good morning, Heidi! Congrats on getting an agent! That’s fantastic. Hello to the goats and foxes and birds.

    Jules: Congrats on the first week!

    Hi Lori!

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Music
    2) Laughter
    3) Community
    4) Bonding
    5) Trust
    6) Colors
    7) Sight

  4. Hello, Just arriving today. We were up and to the market early.
    Heidi Aubrey, you’re in my neck of the woods. I live outside of PDX. Small world. I love your pallete as well especially Ms Slug. And would have a hard time with this: “speed of execution.“
    Jules, I hope to try buttermilk pie, some time. Enjoy grad school and your teaching.
    Lori, hello!
    LW, I love laughter, bonding, and colors.
    My kicks:
    1. The Farmer’s Market.
    2. Sweet pea flower bouquet.
    3. Deck time.
    4. Upcoming road trip: east side of California, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, and then to daughter’s for her bday.
    5. The Free Little Library installed at school.
    6. Sunshine.
    7. Walks.
    Have a great week.

  5. LW: Once again, I want to write a poem from your kicks.

    Jone: Have fun on your trip! I’ve yet to see the Grand Canyon and want to fix that. Happy birthday to your daughter!

  6. Hi Imps!

    Wow I really love the Heidi Aubrey’s warm palette too – her characters sem to invite you into their story. heidi, another PDxer here, though in the city, not outside of it. welcome and thanks for sharing your lovely art!

    Jules – I had to look up Buttermilk Pie – yum! Congrats on getting through the first week of class – 300 picture books in a summer sounds like heaven. And Kick 3 is my absolute favorite this week – what an awesome program!

    LW – love your first three kicks the most this week – especially Kick 1 -community.

    Jone – I drove past the Milwaukie Farmer’s market this afternoon – its on my list to get to this summer – such a great farmer’s market. That Free Little Library looked wonderful in your photos – congrats. And that road trip sounds pretty awesome.

    My kicks this week:

    1) Daisy had water therapy early this morning – no new videos but the feedback is that she is steadily improving. Hopefully next week we’ll get another video – I love seeing her on that underwater treadmill.
    2) Went kayaking to Willamette Falls this afternoon. Gorgeous sunny day for it and so nice to be out on the water.
    3) Watched Ali Wong and Randall Park’s Always be My Maybe this weekend. It was really well written and well acted, and Keanu Reeves was fun in it too.
    4) A new Moberi opened up in town and we went on opening day – turns out they were giving away free lunch bowls! Will definitely be going back for more.
    5. Quit the gym and joined the Community Center this week. I see lap swimming in my future.
    6. Also enrolled in a tap dance class! Its a bucket list item for me as I haven’t taken tap since I was 5 years old. I am looking forward to being (most likely) truly awful at it but enjoying myself completely.
    7. Still super busy with work at the moment, however, its very nice to be able to look forward to things slowing down later this summer.
    7.5 Having time to hang out in the back yard and garden with Daisy – always a great mood booster.

    Have a great week Imps!

  7. Thank you for sharing Heidi’s work, it’s so warm and lovely. I adore it.

  8. Hi, Julie! I just found your blog. I am glad to see you’re excited about your graduate class because I am one of your students. Haha (No, I didn’t run away screaming. Instead I am even more excited about reading as many picture books as possible this summer).

    So you list seven things you are grateful for each month? I will give it a go.
    1. Thankful my brother stopped by to help me bathe our dogs. Bathing German Shepherds is at least a two person job. Now the fur babies are all fresh and clean.
    2. I learned I am going to be an aunt. My stepsister’s baby is due in December. I have already purchased Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? for the baby.
    3. I substitute at my local library so they only need me to work occasionally, but I worked there twice last week. I enjoy working there, and my coworkers are amazing.
    4. I am thankful for the Wendy’s Frosty I had earlier. They are just so good!
    5. The summer reading program at my library looks like it will be incredible this year. I am looking forward to helping out with that.
    6. Just learned a new favorite book of mine is going to be adapted into a web series.
    7. Thankful that picture book class looks like so much fun!

  9. Rachel, I’m excited for your tap dance class. I’ve always wanted to learn. Have fun! And I’m interested in seeing Always Be My Maybe too. Hugs, as always, to Daisy.

    Hi, Annelouise!

    It’s a grad student! Hi, Katelyn! I actually do this every Sunday (and have been for a ridiculously long time now). Of course I like your last kick. 🙂 Which book is being adapted into a Web series? Happy impending aunt-hood!

    Have a good week, you all.

  10. The book is Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. It is an adult fantasy book about a girl training to become an assassin in order to avenge her family’s deaths. Has a sort of “Harry Potter for grown ups” vibe.

  11. Sounds like something my daughters would particularly love.

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