Moira Swiatkowski – Illustrator Interview

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selfieWhile I haven’t managed to attend the SCBWI winter conference the past few years I have schmoozed and managed to be invited to several gatherings/parties. It was at one of these I first had the pleasure of meeting Moira. Aside form her wonderful art she has a great sense of humor. I am slowly adding to my list of friends I need to visit on cape Cod!

[JM] Illustrator or author/illustrator? If the latter, do you begin with words or pictures?

[MS] Illustrator/author would describe me best.

When I get an idea for a story it is like a little movie in my head. The words and pictures are together. Once I start to put the story on paper, I begin with drawings.

[JM] Where are you from/have you lived and how has that influenced your work?

[MS] I have lived in the Northeast part of the United States my whole life.

I grew up climbing trees, swimming in ponds and sledding hills with my brother and three sisters. Our parents took us to all the great museums and historic sights that were within driving distance from home.

Best of all we would take beach trips to Cape Cod, which is where I live now.

The light and natural beauty of the Cape is a daily inspiration, even in the wintertime.

[JM] Tell us a little of your beginnings and journey as an artist.

[MS] I was an arty kid who grew up to be an arty adult.

After graduating college with a degree in fine arts I moved to New York to pursue my passion. I had a lot of different part-time jobs while maintaining an art studio in any corner of the apartment that my roommates could tolerate. I slept on futons in the East Village, Fort Greene and Williamsburg. All of my friends were artists, musicians, actors and broke. It was a great time to be in New York.

I was content to sell a painting here and there while the “day job” paid the bills as long as I could keep painting.

I never went on vacation and rarely had the time or money to enjoy all that the city had to offer.

So, my husband and I decided one day to move to where we could “vacation” on our days off and the rent was cheaper, Cape Cod.

As long as I could keep painting I was happy.

Then I had a baby. A year later I had another baby.

These two wondrous creatures made me very happy but their full time care left little to no time for painting or the “day job”.

I knew I had to make a new plan. The painting and the job would have to be the same thing.

This is when I decided to pursue illustration as a career.

Without realizing it I had been doing my homework by reading countless picture books to my young children.

I decided to attend an SCBWI conference to get a feel for children’s book market.

Once I got to know this wonderful world full of talented artists and writers, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

[JM] Do you have a preferred medium to work in?

[MS] Pen and ink is my current favorite. Then I color and collage the images in Photoshop.

I love working in any medium though and I love to learn new techniques. An art supply store is my candy shop.

I feel lucky to live in the time of digital media. This makes editing of both drawing and writing so much easier. It is also wonderful to be able to share work with anyone with an Internet connection.

[JM] Do you have themes or characters you return to in your art?

[MS] One of the things I love about kids is that they are the first ones to notice differences and the first to accept differences. I love to put seemingly contrasting ideas or characters together.

[JM] What’s with the pattern making?

[MS] As I said, I love to learn new things. I just recently learned how to make a repeating pattern. So, I had a fun time making a bunch of them.

I think this will come in handy for making end papers.


[JM] Can you share a piece or two with us, maybe of a WIP, and the process of creating them? 


clay duck

clay duck




















[JM] Do you have a favorite picture book from when you were young?

[MS] I Met a Man by John Ciardi and illustrated by Robert Osborne

I wore that book out and often brought it in to school for, “show and tell”.

[JM] What does your workspace look like? 

[MS] My art studio is just across the driveway above our garage.

It has heat, running water, a toilet and an internet connection. What more could a girl ask for?



studio wall

studio wall






chair stack

chair stack














[JM] What artwork do you have hanging in your house? 

[MS] We have a few of my paintings and my kid’s artwork hanging up.

This white line print by a dear friend is one of my most treasured pictures.


Five Fun Ones to Finish?                                                                                                 [JM] What’s your favorite park (urban, state or national) in the world?

[MS] I love Central Park in New York and Johnny Kelley Park here in town but my favorite would have to be Cape Cod National Seashore.

[JM] Cats or dogs? 

[MS] Allergies and busy schedules have kept us from having any furry creatures in the house. We have had a couple of fish, may they rest in peace. Otherwise our very active bird feeder is our main source of animal interaction.



[JM] Fact that most people don’t know about you?

[MS] I was once a ride operator for a traveling carnival.

[JM] You were recently at the SCBWI winter conference in New York. What was a highlight for you?

[MS] Seeing my friends and making new ones are always the highlights for me.

[JM] Go to snack/drink to sustain your creative juices?

[MS] In order of appearance in the studio on any given day:                                                    coffee, tea, dark chocolate, water, almonds and beer

Thank you for joining us on the blog today, Moira, and wishing you continued success in all your art!

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10 Responses to Moira Swiatkowski – Illustrator Interview

  1. More, more! A sweet intro into Moira’s world, but now I am left wanting to meet her at a conference too, or better yet on the Cape. (Camping there was one of my best memories, as my then-boyfriend-now-husband had never seen a racoon!) Also put a slew of Chiardi books on hold – thanks, Moira!

  2. Tim says:

    A pleasure to have Moria drop in today! Thank you for this wonderful interview. I’m a avid fan ever since I picked up one her postcards at SCBWI winter conference several seasons ago, an especially love following her exploits on Instagram. I am particularly smitten by the way she puts down her mark. There’s a wonderful visceral energy there that’s uncanny! I’m especially chewing at the bit to steal some figure drawings I saw her post recently. Hey Moria, when can I steal those? PS: I want to know more about your tales from living in Greenwich Village!

  3. Shirley says:

    Great interview…so nice to see Moira, her surroundings, and her wonderful art.

  4. Moira says:

    Thanks, you guys
    I just got, “I Met a Man” from the library. The illustrations are just as triply as I remember.
    Tim, someday while you are ripping pages from my sketchbook I will tell you stories of pre-metro card New York.

  5. Great interview ladies. I Moira’s her pen and ink drawings — I think it is my favorite medium! They are so expressive and fun. You are so lucky to have met Moira. I really enjoyed getting to know her and her journey as an artist. How perfect to be an artist and have children around to inspire you! LOVE HER ILLUSTRATIONS!

  6. brook gideon says:

    Here’s to meeting down the Cape!

  7. I wish I had met Moira at the conference but with 300 or so illustrators there, it was hard to meet everyone. I love that she does bird art! Love. 🙂

  8. Catherine says:

    I love these delves into the illustration life. Those patterns are so cool, I’d love to learn to do that. I’m glad you found a way to keep on painting, Moira.

  9. Great interview! Particularly love the repeating pattern illustrations. 🙂

  10. Pingback: PPBF: Scrappy the Pup | julie rowan-zoch

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