In a series of quarterly interviews, we’ll introduce you to the four new members who were awarded the 2021 BIPOC scholarships. We begin with Kristen Uroda, an illustrator who harkens from Detroit, MI. Welcome to SCBWI-MI, Kristen!
|Kristen Uroda's Winter 2022 Mitten Banner
How will the SCBWI membership be useful to you?
Even in the short time since I
received the SCBWI membership, it’s been an incredible resource to learn about
the children's book industry, different ways to level up my skills, and
discover other illustrators in my own backyard. There’s such a wealth of
information and opportunities to connect with the larger community that is rare
to find if you’re doing this all on your own. I’ve learned so much already from
the digital workshops, I wish I could have joined sooner!
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I am a Michigan native, born
in Detroit. I like to say that I’m a creator, innovator, and storyteller
passionate about art and design that makes a difference and makes the world a
more beautiful place. I love turning problems, stories, and abstract concepts
into illustrations that inspire reflection, action, and social and civic
For the last decade, my sweet
spot has been in editorial illustration, mainly for news sites and publications,
but I originally went to art school (Massachusetts College of Art and Design)
with the intention of focusing on children’s books, comics, and narrative
illustration. While I do love the editorial world because I come across a lot
of unique stories that I have the honor of visualizing, I’ve been waiting for
the right time and opportunity to jump into the children's book industry. I
recently got my chance with my first picture book deal that should be completed
this coming year.
What in your
childhood or youth piqued your interest in writing or illustrating? What were
some of the major influences that led you to this road?
The first time I can remember
really being in awe of what hands could create with a simple crayon and paper
happened one day when I was practicing drawing stars. I was young, maybe 5, and
at the time, the best I could do was drag the crayon across the page to make
messy lines-criss-crossing stars. And I clearly remember at one point, asking
my mom if she could draw stars with me, so she sits down, grabs a crayon and
then draws this perfect, no crisscrossed lined star flawlessly and that
absolutely blew my mind.
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Even today, I’m still a
pretty big nerd for picture books, comics, and animated films. I can’t go into
a bookstore or library without stopping by the children’s section and being in
awe at the number of amazing artists and storytellers out there. And it’s great
seeing such a diversity of artists these days too. Throughout childhood and
even college, it was rare to see female illustrators and illustrators of color
in the spotlight. It’s only within the last decade that I’ve seen illustrators
like myself becoming more visible.
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anything about your current projects or what’s ahead in your creative work?
We’d love to hear about it!
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As it’s my first picture
book, there’s been a lot of learnings gained, but I’ve had so much fun and the
team I’m working with have been great! I’m excited for it to enter into the
world and excited for whatever stories I get to illustrate next.
Thank you, Kristen, for sharing your story and illustrations with our SCBWI-MI community. We look forward to seeing more of your creative work!
--Isabel Estrada O’Hagin,
SCBWI-MI Outreach Coordinator