Nina: This was a really fun and timely picture book to have been a part of. With the creative guidance of art director, Allison Sundstrom, envisioning each page and spread came easily. My main goal here was inclusion. I wanted everyone to be represented in the pictures of this book and to embody the beauty in our differences. There are also different shades and variations of red, white, and blue incorporated into most of the pages.
Nina: Yes! It was for a book called She’s Got This written by Olympic Gold Medal Gymnast Laurie Hernandez. We debuted at #8 on the NYT Best Sellers list in 2018! It was at the least to say surreal. It honestly still is surreal and I’m not sure it will ever sink in.
Nina: I am so grateful to have been a part of the creation of this book in so many ways. Having hit a very dry spell in my career in 2017. I kept getting projects that just didn't excite or motivate me and it showed and I hit a wall when it came to making art that made me happy and proud. I wanted to create picture books but I knew the work I was currently doing just wasn't going to cut it so I took a step back and reset. I told myself that if by the end of 2017 I couldn't find the fun in illustration anymore then I would start looking into other career options. I wanted a picture book and I knew I had to find the "fun" again to get it. After fine tuning my style adding in attributes like raw textures that made my work feel more like play I found my self enjoying work again and it showed. Soon after that, this book fell into my lap and She’s Got This right after and a third book which I had to turn down because at that point it was too overwhelming. The opportunities just kept pouring! Everyone was reaching out to my agent referring to my current style, the style that let me have fun and feel free. It taught me a very valuable lesson: Don’t give up. Just reset.
Nina: What is Heart Art? It’s the unique messages you have to share with this world. Most of the work I have ever done that has made the most impact are the ones that I’ve drawn from personal experience, whether it be something joyful or sad, those are the pieces that people gravitate towards. Those are also the hardest to share because…ugh…what if people want to talk about it afterwards?
Nina: Some postcards once or twice a year, sometimes I do it myself but most of the time it's through my art rep, The Cat Agency. And of course social media.
Nina: My favorite part is that I get to set my own schedule for the most part and that I can stay at home and take care of my daughter. The most challenging is the late hours and trying to find that work-life balance.
Nina: I hope our young readers and their families come away with this book feeling a sense of inclusion and an optimistic point of view of our nation. I feel like we all need to feel that right now. I want kids to know that there are grownups who feel like everything this book stands for is possible (waving my hand).
Nina: Everyone who came to this country came here to start a better life for themselves and their families. It means we sacrificed but we also discovered how brave we were in the process. It means building a community and rebuilding again and again. Learning from each other because we all have something to share. Sharing our ideas and appreciating a different point of view because that is how this country grew to become such a great nation in the first place.
e: Hear! Hear! Thanks, Nina!