Illustrator of the Day: Alessandra Olanow

ADC Member packs her watercolors wherever she travels

Illustration Month rolls on here on the ADC blog,  as we continue to celebrate the illustrators within the ADC community with our Illustrator of the Day series. Some are professionals, some are students, and some just draw for fun. All of them are card-carrying members of ADC.

Our next featured ADC Member is a Brooklyn-based illustrator who describes her style as “whimsical and naive”.


Brooklyn, NY, USA
Rep: Art Department, Stephanie Pesakoff


Almost every kid likes to draw. When did it become more than just a kindergarten project for you? How was that interest nurtured?

We moved around a lot when I was a child and drawing became a way for me to feel comfortable in my new city. No matter where we lived I always had my pen and paper. Also, I was very fortunate in that every school I went to had a fantastic art program with very encouraging teachers.

How much of your ability is self-taught versus through schooling?

I would say most of what i do now is self taught. That said, I did go to an art school where I learned from great teachers how to look for inspiration and explore new techniques.

How would you best describe your illustration style? Would you say that you had a specialty?

I suppose I would say my style is whimsical and naive. I try to be very loose, but deliberate with my lines.

I do loads of editorial and portraits, but more and more online work these days. I’m just happy when I’m being creative, but I’m a people person and I love doing portraits.

Although i realize I’m very lucky to do what i love, a lot of time and effort goes into every piece I create and it can be very hard work.”

What’s your weapon of choice? Any particular brands or models you swear by?

I used to do everything in pencil and ink, but lately i’ve been really getting into watercolor. I like that it takes me in unexpected directions. I use Mijello Mission Gold watercolor sets, and when I’m traveling I bring the Winsdor & Newton cowman watercolor pan sets. My favorite watercolor paper is the Aquarelle Arches block. I get Hot Pressed because often i need to scan my image without the grain appearing.

Finish this sentence: “Despite what you might think, illustration is not _______ .”

Illustration is not all fun and games. Although i realize I’m very lucky to do what i love, a lot of time and effort goes into every piece I create and it can be very hard work.

What other artistic passions do you have?

Outside of illustration I am always on the lookout for creative outlets. My latest obsession is knitting.

Which professionals do you look up to the most in the illustration world?

Christopher Silas Neal, his editorial pieces always blow me away with their simplicity and impact. Maira Kalman’s childlike style definitely appease to my sensibilities. Eda Akaltun‘s mixture of collage with her own silkscreens are so elegant and inspirational for me.

At the end of the day, what do you love most about being an illustrator?

Using my imagination and bringing it to life.