Joanne Lew Vriethoff has been illustrating since the age of four. She grew up in Los Angeles on her own from the age of 12. Life wasn’t easy so art became her one true solace. Her love and passion for art and telling stories through art has given her the opportunity to illustrate some very fun books such as I’m Big, The Dancing Pancake, Summerhouse Time, Peace Baby, The Punctuation Station, and Do You Know Dewey? by Brian P. Cleary. She has published books with Dutch and U.S publishers. Currently she is living in Amsterdam with her two children and husband. Besides illustrating books, she loves photographing street art, traveling, reading to her kids and cycling along the Amsterdam canals in the middle of the night.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
The Famous Five (Enid Blyton) and the Anne of Green Gables series
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” —Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
Shel Silverstein, Babette Cole, Roald Dahl, Tjong Khing, Oliver Jeffers, Ian Falconer, and Lauren Child
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I lived on my own from the age of 12 and my life wasn’t very easy. Making art was something very positive in my life, it made me feel good about myself. It gave me a place to escape and be a child. I got pretty good at drawing, and it didn’t occur to me that I could become an illustrator and tell stories through my art. But here I am, doing what I love.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
Do your research before you send your art to the publisher because it cost money to make art and buy stamps. There are many linked-in illustration and book groups that you can join to connect with other writers and illustrators. Visit publishers, try and connect with them personally even if they say they never have time. Even if you get 100 “NO’s”, there will be one “Yes” that will open the door of opportunities for you. Don’t give up especially if you are passionate about your art. Having patience, perseverance, and faith in yourself will help you through the difficult bumps.