Hauoli Makahiki Hou, everyone! I love the start of a shiny new year. We also celebrate Chinese New Year around here. Kung Hee Fat Choy!
What better way to start a new year but with talented Native Hawaiian and Hawaiʻi based writers and creators!
Meet the wonderful Dru Santiago, Hawaiʻi based illustrator and the 2021 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Narrative Art award.
First of all, congrats, Dru! For those who haven’t met you, could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! My name is Druscilla Santiago, and I draw pictures for kids and grown ups. I’m from Waipahu, but I live in town with my husband and our son, now. These days, I mostly work on illustrating kids books, but I also do private commissions and graphic design/illustration work for local businesses and non-profits.
Where did you grow up? What high school did you grad from?
I love this question! I lived on the mainland for a while in my twenties, and every time I ran into someone from Oahu, we’d always be like, “What high school you grad?” Without fail. And I’m proud to say I graduated from Leilehua High School in Wahiawa. Go mules!
Indeed! My husband, Tim, is a proud Leilehua grad, too. Why did you become an illustrator? Did you always know you could create art?
I think I’ve always been an illustrator even though I didn’t know to call it that. I’ve loved to draw since I was a kid. My mom went to art school when I was very young, and I used to watch her draw and get into her expensive art supplies and draw my own little pictures alongside her. From there, my love of picture books, cartoons, and comics sort of lead me to this career.
That’s so cool. What do you enjoy most about illustrating? What are some of your greatest challenges?
Ooh. So, I kind of live in my head and drawing is the best way to express myself. You know? It’s like talking. So in a way, what I like specifically about illustrating is that I can tell a story without having to say words. And I think the greatest challenge of being an illustrator is taking this love of drawing and making it a job. Because my mind wanders, and it’s important to stay on task. So maybe the real challenge is staying focused? Yeah, that’s it.
What are your hopes and dreams for the year and beyond in terms of your artistic career and what you would like to see published in the future?
I’m just getting started, so my hope and dream is to keep going!
Do you have a website? Are you on social media?
Yes, my website is adventurefun.club, and my instagram handle is @adventurefunclub. I’m on instagram more than I should be, and while I enjoy engaging on social media, the best way to contact me is via email. Don’t get lost in the DMs! 🙂
What advice would you give an aspiring illustrator?
I would say, what I tell myself all the time, there is no “right” way to achieve your goals. Keep working at your craft, and you will get there. For real. And if any aspiring illustrator reading this is particularly interested in Picture Books? Join Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators! Seriously, click this link: https://www.scbwi.org/ Joining SCBWI and attending a national conference was incredibly helpful and enlightening for me.
Can you share a bit of your current work?
I’d love to! I am currently working on a Hands-On Science series by Lola Schaefer. It’s my first picture book project, and I am loving it. The first book in the series, called MATTER, is set to be released this summer 2023. The other two books in the series will be about Geology and Motion.
We love STEM picture books! Can you share a bit about what you’re working on next?
Not really next, but in addition to the Science series, I am working on a wonderful book called A HAT FOR A HOUSE by Audrey Perrott. I’m not sure how much I can say about it, but it’s exciting!
It is! Mahalo, Dru! We’re looking forward to your upcoming books! To learn more about Dru Santiago and view a gallery of her sketches, visit her website and blog, Adventure Club.