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Themes to Include in Your Illustration Portfolio Part 5

Published on 27/02/2024

Illustration by Advocate Art illustrators Alida Massari and Kaja Kajfez, and Astound US Inc. illustrators Chiara Fedele and Kimberley Walker

Themes to Include in Your Illustration Portfolio Part 5
Teacher: ITSme Society

Books are one of the most accessible forms of escapism. And you have the power to help readers explore a range of worlds with your illustrations. In this series we will explore the many themes publishers may be searching for when looking for illustrators. If you already have a theme you’re passionate about, play to your interests. Remember that illustrators often get work because they are simply good at illustrating a certain genre.

History and nonfiction are very common topics in children’s literature. Picture books are a great way for children to start learning early. As a theme, history might be a bit intimidating. Trying to be as accurate as possible doesn’t always get the creativity flowing. This theme can be a fun challenge, and a way to practice things you aren’t used to. Historical accuracy is important, but having fun when illustrating can make the finished project more engaging.

Non fiction/ Historical:

Illustration by Astound US Inc. illustrator Alejandra Ruiz.

For some reason, the subject of history has a reputation of being boring, but the stuff you learn in a school curriculum is a tiny slice of the centuries, cultures and people that can help you better understand the present. The importance of introducing young people to underrepresented historical figures is truly ineffable.
What would we know about the world today without the scientific discoveries of Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and modern minds like Stephen Hawking? We may not exist in the modern age of computers without the power of great minds, like Alan Turing who helped solve the Enigma code and end the war, only to be grossly mistreated by the government. It is important to remember the events during the women’s suffrage movement that have helped us work toward equal rights in many parts of the world today and dip into the research of awe-inspiring women Marie Curie, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Anning; all pioneers who excelled in their fields but were widely disregarded due to their gender. And never let history forget the activism of Ella Baker, widely regarded as the ‘Mother of the Civil Rights Movement,’ who paved the way for Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks crucial actions in the freedom movement.
We continue to be influenced by young activists such as Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, trailblazers for female education and the climate crisis respectively. In the modern age of books, documentaries, and biopics, you can learn a lot about these real-life heroes before bringing their stories to paper. It’s vital to keep these real-life stories that shape us alive and relevant.

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