I'm nervous or unsure about hiring a designer/illustrator.
I know it can be scary to hire someone to create something for you, especially if you’ve never hired someone before or you don’t know what to expect. I have had many, many inexperienced people ask me for help on their project, so you won’t be the first! Don’t worry about not knowing. I’ll help you along the way. While I don’t choose to work with everyone, I can still offer you some advice to help you feel more at ease:
1. Take personal responsibility for your project and know as much about it as possible BEFORE you come to me.


Do your research! Spend an hour googling your questions and reading on forums. I can’t tell you how many inquiries I get from people who “have a great idea for a children’s book I want you to illustrate” but don’t realize how ill-prepared they are to even begin the process of hiring someone for it until I explain what I would need. Here’s what you should know about your project before you bring it to a designer or illustrator:
  • What are your goals? If you don’t have a reason for the project to exist, does it even matter if it happens?
  • Who is your audience? What kind of people do you hope will see, use, or interact with your project?
  • Are you working under a deadline or have a timeline in mind? Planning ahead will only serve you. Tight-turnaround projects will incur additional rush fees.
  • Where/how will the project be used? Is it in a book? Will it be on a website? ill you be printing it multiple times?
  • Are there specs/sizes? Think about the end result. What size is it? Will it be greyscale or color?
2. Know what you’re signing up for before you agree to anything. 


Whether or not you work with me, you need to protect yourself. Make sure you know what you’re agreeing to before you pay someone. When you hire me, I will outline everything you need to know in the proposal and quote:
  • Define the roles: Who does what
  • Set expectations: What needs to happen and when
  • Explain the process: Every project is different! This is customized for you.
  • Set deadlines: Timelines for drafts and final product delivery
  • Explain terms: Rights and agreements explained
I want to know more about you, Emily.

Growing up
I have pursued drawing and art since childhood. I took every art class I could and participated in art shows. I read The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes. I drew a lot as a kid. I’d write and illustrate my own stories, I drew on napkins at restaurants, I had 3 original cartoon strips that I made for myself (“Sheepish,” “Dingoz,” and “Busted Wheel”), and I drew cartoons for the school paper in high school and college.

When it was time to pick a major in college, the recession was in full-swing. I felt torn between wanting to pursue art because it was what I enjoyed, but I also wanted to be able to earn a living– I wasn’t sure I could do both. A friend of mine suggested the graphic design program to me, and after learning about it I dove in head-first! Graphic design blends together my passions of drawing, business, and marketing.

If you want to know my work history you can find me on LinkedIn. I focus primarily on illustration projects these days, but graphic design is still around! I wrote a book called The Art of Visual Notetaking (published by Quarto), and I teach people how to take sketchnotes and communicate visually over at SketchnoteAcademy.com.

View about page

How did you get started illustrating?
I started getting paid to illustrate in 2011, but I had a lot of experiences that built up to that moment. I drew a lot as a kid. I’d write and illustrate my own stories, I drew on napkins at restaurants, I had 3 original cartoon strips that I made for myself, I drew cartoons for the school paper in high school and college, and I kept up drawing as part of the drafting process with my graphic design work.


I got started professionally drawing shortly after I decided to start sharing my drawings again in 2013. People noticed, remembered my work, and asked me to do projects for them. I got inquiries based on the work I shared, even though I didn’t think it was anything special or even that good! My first gig outside of comic strips was drawing for some whiteboard videos. I worked as a live events artist for over 4 years, and now focus on client work and teaching. I think it’s important to share your work no matter what- somewhere, someone will enjoy what you do and you never know where that can lead.
What tools do you use?
First and foremost, the tools don’t make the artist so create and share with what you have!  All you need is the drive to succeed and to put in the work by practicing every day. Ok, now on the the answer you REALLY wanted. Here are my go-to tools:
Writing/Sketchnotes Tools:

Drawing/Illustration Tools:

Paper/Notebooks/Printed Goods:

Technology & Software:

  • iPad Pro – Large, powerful drawing tool. Tons of great drawing apps, too!
  • Apple Pencil – A non-negotiable purchase if you get the iPad Pro
  • ConvertKit – A powerful email system that meets all of my needs- much more than MailChimp could ever do!
  • Siteground – The best web hosting I’ve ever used! Great customer service.

Note: Some links are affiliate or referral links. Everyone wins! You get great tools and recommendations, I get a small bonus for referring you to buy. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.