Featured Illustrator: Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky

Debut Illustrator Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky created one of the winning entries to the 2012 SCBWI Undiscovered Voices compilation. She's our first showcased artist of 2014, check her gallery of images on the Featured Illustrator Gallery page.

To start with, thank you for inviting me to be this month's featured illustrator. It's a real honour and this is a fabulous magazine!

The Banner

This is an image from a personal project, Birdgirl. This was one of my first explorations using a lot of traditional techniques, including printmaking and watercolour, and then combining them in Photoshop.

Personal Path

I had travelled down a couple of different creative paths before realising my dreams on this journey, but I think that I've always been a storyteller and a dreamer, I just started out telling stories through steel and glass first. After a degree in Architecture, I moved onto a Post Grad in Film and TV set design. I fitted much better in this world, though it still wasn't quite ticking the right creative box.
Then my Aunt approached me to write a book with her and to illustrate it, and that's the moment that the lightening bolt struck and it all slotted into place - I had at long last discovered my niche!

Character study from Bella visits the Dream Doctor
I have been writing and illustrating stories ever since. It has been a slow but necessary trajectory as I have been learning this discipline as I go, fuelled by sheer tenacity and an utter compulsion to tell my tales. I have been incredibly focused and driven in finding and developing my voice and style and the highlight so far was when I won a place in the Undiscovered Voices 2012 Competition. I had just started hitting my stride in both my picture book style and children's fiction style, so it was a wonderful moment to receive recognition for my work.

Isolya Undiscovered Voices 2012 Competition winning entry
Having two children along the way may have partially hindered my progress, but they have also provided me an incredible wealth of inspiration and insight, a lot of joy and a very good reality check!

Double page spread from The Slipper Thieves

I joined SCBWI in 2006/7 and I would say that it has been a fundamental help in my development as a writer and illustrator of children's books.

I am at present developing a series of books about my little penguin chicks, featured in the banner above. I love where I'm at now in terms of creating and spending time with my characters and the flow of my ideas. I am really enjoying creating the artwork, whereas I was much more nervous and fearful of even putting down a stroke when I first started.
I have a couple of publishers and agents who are showing great interest in my work, and since I started this journey I have had the great fortune to have received many pearls of wisdom over the years, helpful personal critique and increasing attention from several key respected people who work within the children's book industry.


"I love to use a blend of traditional techniques, with a bit of computer magic".

 I do a lot of work inside my head first of all. It bubbles away, often when I'm sleeping or doing other things. Then I suddenly get that eureka moment, which is swiftly followed by a frantic scribbling down and recording of ideas. I love the immediacy of writing and have found that both with writing and illustrating I do my best early stages of work on loose paper, so I don't feel precious about anything.

I have a roll of detail paper that I use for rough artwork as you can work on different sizes and aren't just constrained by A4 and A3. When I get to finished artwork stage, I love to use a blend of traditional techniques, with a bit of computer magic.

I tend to create components of a piece using pencil, brush and ink, watercolour and/or acrylic. I have illustrated this below through a collection of components I created for my colour spread that I produced for an SCBWI project, run with Little Tiger Press.


Process Breakdown for Frog Sees the World image below

I then put these pieces together in Photoshop, where you can tweak away and enhance areas to your hearts content, rarely having to redo things by hand. Here is the finished piece below:

Colour spread from Frog Sees the World LTP SCBWI project


Be determined.

Listen to all the advice that you are fortunate enough to get from people in the Industry, they know what they are talking about.

Try to maintain your self-belief. Sometimes it can be hard, but if you persevere through a wrong turn and learn from it then you can come back so much stronger.

If you haven't already done so, then join SCBWI, it's amazing! Take advantage of all the events, conferences and workshops at your fingertips. It's so important to practise and refine your trade and SCBWI gives you amazing opportunities to practice, learn, develop and create great material for your portfolio. You've also got fabulous occasions to meet other people and to network.

I love Mike Brownlow's tip of "Marrying Well" - it's a hoot and would certainly keep you in brushes! However, I would say that we as artists are kind of meant to suffer for our art and it's that roller coaster of a ride that can fire you up and drive your ambitions.

Lastly I would say, embrace the failures! I have learnt so much from having to pick myself up and dust myself down, now I'm loving my work so much more than when I started out, because of these experiences.

Click here for Shana's Featured Illustrator Gallery Page.
Or visit Shana's Association of Illustrators Portfolio 
Shana can be contacted at: shanarama@btinternet.com
Twitter: @Mumma_Penguin


  1. Lovely stuff, congratulations! ... and marrying well does help ...

  2. Great to see your work, Shana. Really love your lively frogs, fun slipper thieves and dramatic b&w :)

  3. It's great to see you here, Shana and great to have Words & Pictures back for the New Year!

    I think there's more to marrying well than the money - it's all about having the right person to support you along the way :-) Now, back to the day job...

  4. Great to see your work here, Shana. Lovely stuff! x

  5. Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky3 January 2014 at 21:32

    Thanks everyone, it's been a real pleasure and a really exciting way to kick off the year!
    I wish you all a Happy and healthy 2014, x

  6. Shana, I love your banner - it's perfect for soaring into the New Year and how all your pictures tell a story - thank you!

    1. Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky4 January 2014 at 17:24

      Thanks so much Jan! Let's hope all our stories soar this year! x

  7. Beautiful work - and what an adorable penguin! X

    1. Shana Nieberg-Suschitzky4 January 2014 at 17:25

      Thanks Rachel & Happy New Year! Hope all's going well with you and see you soon x


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