Rachel Wada was raised between Japan and Hong Kong and is currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has created illustrations for magazines, newspapers, advertising, and even a mural. Her first children’s book project, The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota’s Garden, was recognized with the Freeman Award for Children’s Literature. Her second children’s book, From The Tops Of The Trees, won the 2023 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the picture book category. Visually, Rachel’s works are characterized by the use of rich colours, textures, and fine details through both digital and traditional mediums.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
I grew up reading many Japanese folktales growing up. Some of the titles include Momotaro, Kaguya-Hime, Urashima-Taro, Issun-Boshi, etc. Growing up in Japan, and later moving to Hong Kong and settling in Canada, these folktales acted as a reminder of my upbringing in Japan.
What’s your favorite line from a book?
“All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”—The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?
Illustrators: Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Tatsuro Kiuchi, James Jean, and Tom Haugomat
Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?
I loved to draw ever since I could remember. Having moved around from different countries around Asia, I gravitated towards visual forms of communication before understanding how to speak and understand the language. This resulted in me being hyper-aware of the visual elements of my environment, which lead to my curiosity about the ways in which something can look like they belong to a specific culture. My artistic practice is now largely influenced and informed by my cultural upbringing—drawing influences from my Japanese, Chinese and Canadian background.
Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?
Be yourself and create what you love! Curate a body of work based on your interests and passions to attract the kind of projects that you’d like to be hired for! Don’t forget to just have fun along the way.