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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - SANDIE SONKE

Sandie Sonke created magic with her illustrations for our picture book, SCARLET'S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH. Her talent and vision stood out from the beginning, and I was delighted to share this project with her. I'm so happy to feature Sandie on my blog today.

STORIES – Discuss what inspires your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.

Thank you for inviting me here, Melissa!

Inspiration is all around me, but I would say I’m inspired by my two children Cole and Annabel most of all. My daughter has been my model for a lot of characters. In fact, she was my model for Scarlet’s expressions and poses. I am also inspired by folk art and old Disney movies. Anything whimsical and colorful gets me excited to draw.

When I begin a new project I start with research, then I do a lot sketching and make notes. Sometimes when I am stuck I just start drawing and eventually ideas start to emerge. Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush gave me a lot of inspiration. I’m grateful for the wonderful visuals throughout the text!

CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?

I try to submit work to art directors as well as participate in different illustration competitions and challenges. There is so much out there!

I was happy to have sold some prints at a craft show recently and I also share my art regularly on social media. I have met a lot of other illustrators through Instagram. It’s a wonderful platform for artists to share their work. Just recently 14 other illustrator friends and I created an Instagram challenge for the week of November 12 – 19. We are calling it #folktaleweek. We are absolutely thrilled to have a number of artists ready to participate! We have simple illustration prompts set up each day for the participants to follow. I’m one of the hosts of the challenge, but I’m also going to create something for each day. I hope to have a few new portfolio pieces at the end of the challenge. Plus there is the added bonus of discovering new artists to follow.

CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?

I hope to start monthly workshops next year for young artists. I’m currently looking for space and deciding on lessons. My first workshop will be centered around Scarlet’s Magic Paintbrush! I will also teach a few art lessons at my son’s school starting in a few months. I am excited to read Scarlet to them and see them get creative!

I discovered the KidLit community is very kind and welcoming! I’m a member of SCBWI, but I haven’t been able to participate much with my local chapter. Having young kids and a husband who works nights doesn’t make that too easy. I plan to be more involved once my youngest goes to school and I have a little more time on my hands. In the meantime I’m involved with some awesome illustration groups online.


Sandie is a Southern California native and a Cal State University Fullerton grad with a degree in studio art. She finds joy simply sketching in her sketchbook or drawing tablet. Wearer of many hats, Sandie is a freelance illustrator, wife, and mom to two sweet and silly kids who inspire her daily. She loves to create whimsical and colorful illustrations. Her hope is to bring a little happiness to those who view her work.



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