About the Artists

Cathleen Abalos works professionally as a freelance illustrator and has shown her work in numerous gallery exhibitions across Southern California. As an educator, she is teaching children the value of an arts education. Cathleen earned her BA from California State University, Long Beach and is a board member of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. She lives in Long Beach, California.

Walter Askin of Pasadena, California, came to art via a series of subterfuges and coyote-like meanderings, holds the world record for breaking the picture plane more than 293 times in a 24-hour period, and recently appeared on Hawaiian television between the most beautiful baby in Hawaii contest and some dancing elephants. He was a four-letter man in high school—screen printing, bronze sculpture, oil painting, and figure drawing. (His school did not field a team in watercolor.)

Brett Bean makes stuff up for a living be it character, creature, story, or place. He currently runs his own business, Drawn To It Studios, LLC, where he creates original content and provides outsourcing for companies big and small. He also creates puppet designs for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

He has illustrated the 18 chapter books in the successful children’s book series Beasts of Olympus, published by Penguin Random House, and Battle Bugs, published by Scholastic. He was the lead designer for Disney XD’s show Slugterra.

His work as an illustrator, writer, cartoonist, designer, and teacher has been featured in films, television shows, video games, comic books, card and board games, and children’s books.

He has had the good fortune to work with Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Riot Games, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Marvel Studios, Penguin Books, Scholastic, and more. He is happily married to a redhead and happily devoted to their redheaded son. They reside, play pickleball, volleyball, and soak up the sun in Los Angeles.

One of Brett’s favorite words is “chortle,” and he adores traveling and Tom Waits. He also ate a mopane worm in Africa . . . and it was gross. Each year, he makes several stops at conventions, and he gives talks and workshops on a fairly regular basis.

Steven Calcote is an award-winning filmmaker who has created film, television, commercial, and web projects for such clients as Sony Pictures, Disney, BBC America, Nickelodeon, and HBO.

Joe Cepeda received his BFA in illustration from California State University, Long Beach and studied engineering at Cornell University. He is the illustrator of award-winning picture books, such as What a Truly Cool World (Scholastic), Nappy Hair (Knopf), Mice and Beans (Scholastic), and The Swing (Arthur A. Levine Books), which he also wrote.

He has illustrated books written by authors including Gary Soto, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Arnold Adoff, Monica Brown, Julius Lester, and Toni Morrison. He has also illustrated book jackets for several titles, including Esperanza Rising and Newbery Medal-winner Merci Suárez Changes Gears. He was selected to illustrate the cover of Reading Is Fundamental and Shaquille O’Neal’s Biggest Children’s Book in the World.

In 2000, he received the Recognition of Merit Award from the George G. Stone Center for Children’s Books. In 2002, he received an American Library Association Pura Belpré Award. His work has been accepted to the Society of Illustrators’ shows in New York and Los Angeles. In 2016, Joe was awarded a Capstone Fellowship in Children’s Literature. He is the president of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. He lives in Southern California.

Brenda Chi was born in Los Angeles (SGV) and was raised by sitcoms and cartoons. She makes art that shines a light on Asian American stories and experiences. Her personal goal is to make work that can elevate all BIPOC, to empower and inspire others. She’s also a multidisciplinary artist, with a background in web comics as an Associate Art Director, worked in animation, educational illustration, and apparel consumer products. She also a small business owner, running her own art shop, selling work about the AAPI experience! On her spare time, she hangs out with her two one-eyed cats, Compton and Lychee, in a home filled with plants. You’ll often find her with green hair, sipping Horchata or a Taro Milk Tea! brendachi.com

Jessica Chrysler was born in Inglewood, California, and grew up in and around the Westside of Los Angeles. Her childhood consisted of softball tournaments, coloring books, and raising litters of kittens. A passion for storytelling has led her to illustrate several children’s books, including Cody the Coyote and the soon to be released A Word to Rhyme with Orange. She is an active member of the local artist community and volunteers her time to help others learn about art.

Patrick Sean Farley is a graphic designer and illustrator based in the San Francisco Bay Area, best known for his webcomics anthology Electric Sheep Comix.

Mixed-media artist Joey Feldman works in Los Angeles, California. Feldman’s works are figurative with a frenetic, cartoonish style at their core. With line art applied to its fullest extent, Feldman’s initial, fast-sketched lines play a role in the final piece. Then, with paint and ink splatters, Feldman finishes each with a visceral urgency that captivates upon first glance.

An only child who kept mostly to himself, Feldman first fell in love with art and illustrations through comic books and with Marvel pages he first taught himself to draw by tracing panels. Known for his constant sketching in grade school, Feldman would receive a special award at his grade-school graduation entitled “Classroom Cartoonist,” which was created specifically to commend his budding talent as an artist.

Feldman’s first professional assignment came in 1994 when he was commissioned to draw a portrait of O.J. Simpson upon the verdict of O.J.’s infamous trial. Since then, Feldman has provided artwork for advertising agencies, design firms, motion pictures, beverage companies, record labels, and magazines, including a not-so-flattering illustration of noted rapper Eminem for XXL Mag, which sparked the biggest feud in XXL history. The illustration itself earned a shout out from the artist himself on the Marshall Mathers LP.

Private collectors, such as Josh Brolin (actor, No Country for Old Men), Jere Burns (actor, JustifiedBates Motel), Kaley Cuoco (actor, The Big Bang Theory), Steve Jones (musician, Sex Pistols), Joe Manganiello (actor, Magic MikeTrue Blood), and Tony Denison (actor, Major Crimes), among many others, feature Feldman’s singular work in their collections.

Graeme Fordyce grew up in the northwest of England, West Texas, and Northern California. His background in photography began while studying at the College of Creative Studies in Santa Barbara. Aside from shooting fine-art images of natural landscapes, he worked for years as a photographer and writer for Outdoor Photographer Magazine.

Many of Fordyce’s prints focus on scenes and details that aren’t conventionally glamorous. His images are often studies of the wrinkles and warts in natural and urban landscapes where, the argument goes, the real emotional texture lies. Fordyce has shown private galleries in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as solo and shared galleries in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.

Scott Gandell is a professional illustrator, print maker, curator, and entrepreneur. He is a longtime board member and the development chair of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles (si-la.org) where he has also served as president.

Scott is an alumni of ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena and the owner of Pop Secret Gallery in Glendale. He is the art director of Literature for Life and a contributing artist to Issues 2 through 6 of the journal. His work and his studio have been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, journals, and books.

In 2018, Scott was given the opportunity to design interiors for three different established auto manufacturers. His first project will debut during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Scott is an active participant in the United States Air Force Art Program through the USAF APO. His work has been exhibited and sold in galleries across the United States and Canada, as well as displayed in collections worldwide.

He is married to his lovely wife, Anneline, with whom he has two fur babies—a male and a female. Together Scott and Anneline share an adventurous lifestyle, which leaves little time to update online profiles and websites.

Steve Gavenas is an artist, illustrator, comics creator, business consultant, and teacher based in South Pasadena. He grew up in Miami but has spent his life working and traveling throughout the world. In his creative work, he finds throughways and connections between his education, work, family, and journeys, which inspire him to create art that is meaningful to him and maybe to other people. See for yourself at www.stevegavenas.com.

Sherry Giang-Chen is an artist, writer, and teacher based in Pasadena, California, who is originally from the multicultural, cosmopolitan island of Singapore. Her Southeast Asian background and rich cultural heritage have given her the opportunity to become familiar with a wide and diverse variety of artistic styles. Her background inspires richly layered paintings and varied themes.

Her background in writing, journalism, and graphic design give her art a vivid and colorful edge. Her main sources of inspiration are spirituality, nature, and the dreamtime. She believes art is a bridge that connects people and has the potential to spark creative light in each and every one of us. To find out more, please visit her website: sherrygiang.com.

Isabel Ochoa Gold lives and works in Los Angeles.

Born and raised in Barcelona, Spain, Katia Grifols always hated raw tomatoes and cucumbers. In Barcelona, she began her career as a comic book artist, eventually landing in California, where she studied illustration for entertainment arts at ArtCenter College of Design.

Her experiences with major LA studios opened her eyes to the realities of the entertainment business and, mixed with her desire to create original content, inspired Katia to create Glow in the Dark Concept Studio.

As the studio’s mastermind, Katia plays a major role in the creation of the studio’s in-house properties. She enjoys art direction, colors and research, brainstorming, strong coffee, and random Japanese kawaiis, but what she loves the most is encountering amazing storytellers and newfound creators! To this day, Katia still hates raw tomatoes and cucumbers.

Rosalind Helfand works independently to create and lead innovative programs that connect and improve communities. From the arts to conservation, her focus is on doable big ideas that lead to lasting positive change and a better future.

A leader in LA’s literary community, she co-founded the award-winning West Hollywood Book Fair in 2000, directing the festival for its first decade. She’s developed, curated, and produced hundreds of literary programs, in partnership with leaders from LA’s diverse literary and arts communities, with a focus on multi-disciplinary collaborations with the arts, sciences, politics, and more.

In addition to Literature for Life, her recent literary projects include Sci-Fest LA, Lit Crawl LA, and LitFest Pasadena. She was also a curator of The Last Bookstore’s Indie Shelves Initiative. In 2013, Rosalind produced a community-wide dialogue series in conjunction with the play Cooking Oil’s premiere in Los Angeles, which brought together nonprofit leaders to discuss international aid, women’s rights, and education.

Rosalind is a past programming director of West Hollywood’s Women’s Leadership Conference and Human Rights Speakers Series and is currently directing educational programming for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. She was a guest speaker at the California World History Association’s annual conference, and she teaches high school classes in creative writing and academic writing at West Hollywood College Preparatory School. She is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz: rozhelfand.com

Alexander Lee studied illustration in college. His main interests are comic, animation, and concept art. He loves to hang out at coffee shops and sketch people and write stories. Often these random people will show up in his stories. His main artistic influences are the following: Nico Marlet, Akira Toriyama, Peter De Sève, Jeff Smith, and Edmund Dulac.

Nery Gabriel Lemus was born in Los Angeles in 1977. The subjects in his work range from issues of stereotype and immigration to problems in society that can lead to the failure of families, such as poverty, abuse, and neglect. Lemus received his BFA at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California (2007) and his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California (2009). Lemus also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in Maine (2008).

Jimi D. Martinez graduated with honors from ArtCenter College of Design, where he earned a BA in illustration design. He is currently the head illustrator at UPROXX, where you can find his bi-weekly show, In Theory. The show takes the most hotly discussed pop culture theories and presents them through time-lapsed drawings, paintings, and intricate paper crafts as a way of narrating these theories.

In Theory has garnered several million viewers between its 30+ videos. When not working on the show, Martinez also gives private art lessons to elementary and middle school children. He lives in Los Angeles, California. You can find his works at jimimartinez.com, Pop Secret Gallery, and on his Instagram: jimimadcap.

Christian Meesey’s offbeat cartoons and caricatures have been displayed on walls and in rubbish bins worldwide for over 20 years! Meesey is known for his line work, as well as the ability to capture a likeness. His distinctive art is instantly recognizable as his own, no matter how hard he tries to rip off other cartoonists (such as MAD Magazine luminaries Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, and Hermann Mejia). Meesey’s work combines the foundational structure and methods of his mentor, Tom Richmond, with the sensibilities of underground comic books.

Meesey creates most of his work traditionally with pen and ink but has been making waves (Five Stars from Aunt Petunia!) with his vibrant and unique digital colors. He is currently writing and illustrating such comics as TIME SHOPPER! (with Tony Fleecs), SWALLOW: Vampires in the Big City (with Camilla Rantsen), GHOST AGENTS (with Rocko Jerome), TURBO HAWK! (with Your Mom!) and MOTLEY and HARV Meet a Dracula! (with himself).

The illustrator has worked with such clients as Disney, Warner Brothers, IDW, Dynamite, Blind Ferret, Cosmic Lion, his aunt Petunia, and others. meesimo.com

Avalon Nuovo is an illustrator and designer who was born and raised in Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s degree in illustration at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and also studied at Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts, and Design in Stockholm, Sweden.

Santosh Oommen is a freelance illustrator and storyboard artist for animation and film. He has worked as an animator for television, feature films, and video games produced by companies like Jim Henson Interactive, Warner Bros. Interactive, Disney, Lucasfilm, MTV, and NBC.

Santosh has also worked as an instructor and professor at Riverside City College, The Art Institute of California—Inland Empire, and the Advanced Media Vocational Academy, a school for autistic college students who are interested in media arts.

He serves on the board of the nonprofit organization Actors for Autism, as well the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles (SILA), where he is the new member chair. At SILA, he’s served as president and chair of the Illustration West competition. Since 2013, he has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

He has hosted SILA’s audio podcast since its inception, interviewing authors such as Nilah Magruder, Jason Porath, Mike Cavallaro, and more. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles, where he creates storyboards for animation, pitches his shows, and illustrates his graphic novels.

Erwin Papa is an illustrator and sculptor with work including comic books, character design, and toy design. He also creates abstract sculptures comprised of found objects. He lives in Long Beach, California.

Peter Paul is a story artist, animator, illustrator, and instructor. He began as a graphic designer and a freelance illustrator, but he eventually found his footing in the entertainment industry. He has worked in both animated and live-action shows and at most major studios, including Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Universal Animation Studios, Illumination Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, 20th Century Fox Animation, and STX Entertainment.

He has worked in both feature and television on shows like Space JamSpirit: Stallion of the CimarronLilo & Stitch 2Mulan IIThe Tigger MovieTinker Bell and the Lost TreasurePhineas and FerbAlvin and the Chipmunks: The SqueakquelDragons: Race to the EdgeUglyDolls (forthcoming in May 2019) and Green Eggs and Ham (forthcoming in fall 2019 on Netflix). He is an instructor at the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, where he teaches storyboarding.

Christopher Perez is a Los Angeles, California-based artist. His work includes drawings, linoleum blocks, and paintings, and he also works for the film industry. He and “Nopalitos” author Conrad Romo are cousins.

Ester Petschar

a visual fine artist—paint in pointillism
and chalk murals—attended
Pasadena City College
Santa Monica College of Design, Art and Architecture
paint in point

Becca Quant is an illustrator based in Glendale. She enjoys working in many different art mediums, such as oil paints, acrylics, watercolors and gouache, ink, clay, and paper cutting. She finds daily inspiration in children’s films and animation and has always been fascinated by fairytales, folklore, and mythology. After graduating in 2014 with a BFA in studio art from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, she moved to Glendale, where she has been been working as an independent artist and showing her work at nearby galleries, art fairs, and local conventions.

Maddie Saunders is currently enrolled full-time as a student at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, where she is also a teaching assistant. She has participated in numerous gallery shows around Los Angeles over the last few years. Her wacky sense of humor can be seen in the illustrations she creates. She lives in Glendale, California.

Hugh Steffy was a photographer who was born in Ohio and who traveled across the United States documenting landscapes and people. Although he grew up in Ohio, he lived most of his life in Southern California and also lived in Illinois, Arkansas, Indiana, and Arizona.

Allison Strauss grew up among writers and is particularly fond of projects that meld poetry and prose with visual art. Allison thanks Ryman Arts, Ragan Art Academy, the Armory Center for the Arts, Peter Fetterman Gallery, and the Pasadena Waldorf School for nourishing her as a young artist. She went on to earn her degree in art from Colorado College, where she drew cartoons for the school paper.

Since returning to her native Los Angeles, Allison has enjoyed seasonal positions with Hill Nadell Literary Agency, Los Angeles Review of Books, Slake, and Vroman’s Bookstore. She’s usually carrying either a sketchbook or a novel. Her work can be viewed at allisonstraussart.com.

Jennifer Swain is a designer and an artist. She studied design at ArtCenter College of Design and has worked in advertising and design for over 20 years. She worked at Warner Bros. and with Acme. She designed three Rose Parade floats for the Tournament of Roses, two of which won awards. She creates large chalk murals at festivals and has won the Best Animation Mural award twice for her designs.

She was also hired to create murals for JetBlue, Air + Style, and Cirque du Soleil. She has painted electrical boxes in local cities and works as an artist, illustrator for children’s books, and website designer. She plays dodgeball, loves hiking, and is practicing to skate as a Derby Doll for the LA all-girls roller derby team.

Jervey Tervalon, MFA, is the award-winning, Los Angeles Times best-selling author of five books, including Understand This, a novel based on his experiences teaching at Locke High School in Los Angeles, for which he won the Quality Paperback Book Club’s New Voices award. His newest novel, Monster’s Chef, was released by HarperCollins in 2014.

He was the Remsen Bird Writer in Residence at Occidental College and is now an associate professor at National University and a lecturer at the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He’s lectured at the University of Southern California and Occidental College.

He is also an award-winning poet, screenwriter, dramatist, and the founder and editor of Literature for Life. Jervey was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine and studied with Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark.

J. Michael Walker is the founding Literature for Life artist. He has been an exhibiting artist since 1984 and has participated in more than 100 exhibitions. He has received a dozen grants, fellowships, and residencies and enjoyed solo shows at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard, el Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Mexico City, the National Museum of Catholic Art and History in East Harlem, and the Arkansas Arts Center, among others.

J. Michael is the author and illustrator of All the Saints of the City of the Angels: Seeking the Soul of LA on Its Streets (Heyday 2008), which earned the Eric Hoffer award for Art Book of the Year and Independent Publisher’s Best Regional Non­fiction in the West Pacific award. He is the co­-editor of Waiting for Foreign: LA Writers on (and in) Guadalajara (Peregrino Press 2010).

Leora Wien is a native Angeleno, an artist, and a literacy learning specialist. Her practice includes mixed-media art objects, zines and written essays, and collaborative performance. Her work has been featured at the Echo Curio (LA), Actor’s Art Theater (LA), and 59 Rivoli (Paris).

She most recently collaborated with Alexandra Grant and hundreds of artists to create Forêt Intérieure/Interior Forest, installed at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica and Mains D’Oeuvres, Paris. She has taught at LACMA and 59 Rivoli and produced innovative programming for LACMA’s Institute for Art & Cultures. Her new zine, Double You~Double Vie, explores the fluid associations of the traveler.

Tony Wong is an illustrator and printmaker originally from the Big Easy who currently resides in the Los Angeles area. He is a teaching assistant for printmaking at Pasadena City College, a board member of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, and a working illustrator. He has curated for and participated in gallery shows around the Los Angeles area.