Interview with Illustrator Dru Santiago


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!

Dru-cookingIndeed! 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. Dru-art

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, 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:  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.Dru-art-surfer 

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