Alumna’s book illustrations published in fourth book

Book illustrator published fourth timeBy Kesha Williams

An internship completed during her senior year at ECSU not only opened Anna Marie Lewis’ eyes to the possibility of a freelance career, but it led to her fourth book of published illustrations.

Lewis recently received confirmation that the children’s book, “Happy Being Me,” is in its final publishing stages and will soon be available for purchase. Lewis said she has enjoyed providing illustrations for three previous books but admits the process requires patience. As a book illustrator she is not only required to create appealing drawings for book interiors but illustrations for the front and back covers. If adjustments are needed to accommodate the publisher’s standards or the author’s change of the storyline, she must comply. It’s all part of the process and she still feels fortunate to have begun this journey as a freelancer.

“I was lucky to get the opportunity in this region, Elizabeth City or the surrounding cities. I don’t hear often about people illustrating books in this region,” Lewis said. “When my art teacher Mr. Goss told me about the internship two years ago and suggested I apply, I wasn’t sure what would happen. The publishers are based in North Carolina. Fortunately, I could submit my illustrations by email without driving to their office each time I submitted something.”

“The first book was the toughest. It was the first time I’d taken on something like that. I had to take a lot into account such as how to capture a child’s interests with drawings, which font to select because fonts used in a children’s book are larger than the fonts in an adult’s book.”

Lewis’ first assignments as an intern were to design posters. As a graphic designer, that is also a common assignment. Among other tasks, graphic designers complete posters that will eventually be used as advertisements. Over time, her assignments turned into providing illustrations for children’s books. Her past illustrations accompanied two book titles, “A Little Pirates ABC’s,” written by former East Carolina University football coach, Ruffin McNeil and “In My Eyes,” by Monique Curry. Taylor Made Publishing, a Greenville, N.C. couple, published those books.

Lewis graduated from ECSU in 2014 with a degree in art and thinks she has found a good career option. While the book publishing process is a lengthy one, she enjoys the creative process of drawing characters and related scenes. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s occupational statistics, the nation is expected to see a rise in the need for artists, sculptors and illustrators. North Carolina is one of the states where those professionals are making a viable living with their skills. In the meantime, Lewis has kept busy with part-time retail sales, photography assignments and of course hours of drawing.

“I would like to continue and see where it goes, illustrating on commission.”  

“There are business people who want skills like mine to develop websites, stationary, posters for events,” Lewis said. “There are also opportunities for graphic designers like me to draw characters when authors prefer to focus on writing their stories. Most of all, I find this kind of work rewarding.”

This story is the latest in a series of feature stories that spotlights ECSU alumni.