Sunday, June 21, 2015


Tammie Lyon is an award winning author and illustrator of children’s books ranging from pre-k to
early chapter readers. She came to Cincinnati as a staff illustrator for Gibson Greetings from 1988-1997. She has been freelancing ever since. Tammie has recently turned to writing her own chapter series as well as developing the art. She has created work for companies such as Disney, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster and Amazon publishing and has been fortunate enough to work on some very popular book series such as Eloise and Katie Woo.

Location: Milford, Ohio
On the Drawing Table: I bounce between several projects at a time, so there will always be a book in the sketch stage and one in the painting stage. I’m currently working on a picture book telling the story of a child’s kindergarten check up and his big fear of shots. Also, more Katie Woos and the new Katie Woo spin off series focusing on her friend Pedro. On the writing side, working on a chapter series for first, second graders I’ve developed. One written, three to go!
Coming out soon: Look for the four newest Katie Woo titles, Noisy Music, Cartwheel Katie, Super Scout and Happy Mother’s Day. Also a super cute true rescue story from the ASPCA called I am Nibbles and a two new board books, Thank God For Kittens and Thank God For Puppies

How did you get your start as a professional artist?
I always joke I have a career by pure luck! I majored in Fashion design and Illustration in
college-a far cry from Children’s books! Upon graduation from the Columbus College of Art and
Design, I saw an ad in the Columbus paper looking for artists at Gibson Greetings. I thought for
fun I would send my portfolio and see. Before I knew it I was hired, moved to Cinci and began
painting cute greeting cards every day. I was always hearing comments that my work was very
story bookish so I thought to help defer student loans I would try and freelance in the evenings
and hopefully get some book work. It became so successful that I joined with an agency, left my
job and began a freelance career.

Describe your work.
My work is pretty happy and sweet. Its a wide range of subjects, ages,etc. My style varies a bit
here and there depending on what I feel the piece needs,I love to pack my art with details and
with patterning-a throw back to the fashion education I guess!

Tell about your workspace.
This is a rare snap of a somewhat clean space. I work from a spare room in my home. My drafting table is positioned to get the most natural light possible from my windows. I also have giant overhead lights with natural daylight bulbs for all of those late nights when I’m painting and I’m trying to keep the color the same. I always have two doggies in here with me. I have piles of paintings, sketches as I work on them and my writing station is positioned by my computer.


What are your favorite materials digital and traditional?
I use both and sometimes a combination of the two. I prefer my digital work not to look too digital and still have more of a traditional feel. I use watercolors, acrylics, pastels, pencils, and digital.

What’s your typical workday/work session like?
I start my days very early, usually in my studio by 5. It's a great time to check e-mails, revisit my schedule and see exactly what needs done that day. I work a full day with minimal breaks and often times, into the evening. Deadlines are a great motivator!

What do you do to keep yourself motivated as you work?
Some days it's not a problem, If you are really excited about the piece you are working on and its going well, no problem. There are those times when you just don’t want to work, usually a Sunday and a grueling deadline looming. I try to listen to podcasts or jazz music, something to engage my mind without being to distracting. It's also important for me to create from a pretty calm demeanor. It's hard to make super cute, sweet, happy art if you are stressed!


What is your dream job?
I really think this is it! If I could combine a bit more of my other passions such as history, fashion, nutrition into my books then that would be the best. Hopefully through my writing I can do just that!

Do you keep a sketchbook?
I keep scraps of doodles all over my office but I really don't carry anything with me. I have scraps of writing ideas jotted down, scraps of paper with character studies, etc.I feel my mind is most creative in my studio and I struggle when I'm not there.

What do you listen to while you work?
It just depends. If I’m really trying to think and create from scratch such as sketching or writing, I need instrumental music. I like classical but it can be jarring sometimes so its mostly jazz. If I’m painting, it must engage a different part of my brain. I need a bit of a distraction. I’ll listen to
podcasts, old movies, etc. I’m particularly fond of Ghost stories and history.

What are you reading/listening to on Audible?
Currently reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Its a very brutally honest and disturbing look at the slums of Mumbai.
Who are your artistic influences?
I am constantly seeing new and amazing things every day from my peers. It excites me when I
see someone tackle an idea in an entirely different way. I was madly in love with the illustrations in The Phantom Tollbooth as a child. I could remember every single subtle nuanced emotion on the characters faces and studying all of the details in the crazy made up lands. It really resonates with me how much these details support the words and help the readers imagination flourish.I hope that I have at times done the same.

 What do you do that is not art related that inspires you?
I love to travel and have been lucky enough to see a great part of the world. I also am an avid reader which I guess really shouldn't be a shock! I have a deep passion for nutrition and am hoping to combine some of what I have learned into my books in some way that can help children learn how important it is.

What was the best advice you got in your career so far?
Draw from your head and your heart. Be true to your style.When I just start sketching, my emotions come out through my characters. My quirky sense of humor and the details that make up the tapestry of my life and surroundings come out.

What is your favorite color?

How can we get best follow your art online/on social media?
I can be found on twitter, tumbler, behance, facebook and my blog.
See links below!!!!


  1. Loved reading the inside scoop of how you work, Tammi! Your office is cleaner than mine! Haha

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