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In SCBWI-L.A.’s latest Twitter Banner Contest, illustrators were asked to submit their most creative response to our prompt: NIGHT FLIGHT. The winning contestant’s artwork is featured on the Los Angeles Region SCBWI Twitter profile until the next contest, with a feature article published here on Kite Tales. Illustrator Hannah Shafiroff won this year’s contest!

Read on to learn more about Hannah, her tips and tools, and what has kept her inspired through the pandemic.

A recent graduate of Cal State Long Beach, Hannah Shafiroff lives in the South Bay and can often be seen with a sketchbook in tow. Her heartwarming and magical illustrations can be found at HannahShafiroff.com and on Instagram @ThatGalWhoDraws

Jessica Chrysler: In your piece for the new Twitter banner, you used gouache, colored pencil, and Procreate. A mix of both traditional and digital media. What does your process look like? Do you always use mixed media?

Hannah Shafiroff: For the Twitter banner illustration, I began with quick pencil scribbles to get a feeling for the shape of the dragons. I knew I wanted to have a lot of fun with the paint strokes in the sky, so I made the background separate from the dragons and collaged them digitally. I love using gouache and colored pencils together. They’re my go-to for art making! I try to work on finished pieces with traditional media as much as I can, because it keeps me from second-guessing my work. It forces me to let go of perfectionism! I finished up the final few details in Procreate to make the whole thing pop.

Winning Artwork for the 2021 Twitter Banner Contest

JC: You just graduated from Cal State Long Beach last year—during the height of the pandemic. How has that affected you as an artist and what have you done to keep your creative juices flowing?

HS: I love the art community I became a part of at Cal State Long Beach. When the pandemic hit, my professors and classmates made it easier to get through such a challenging year, because we were all facing it together. And because I was spending all my time at home, I used it as an opportunity to try new things. I experimented with new mediums and styles, and I really felt like I was coming into my own as an artist — hardship and all.

Now that things are reopening, I try to regularly take my sketchbook out and draw at the beach, coffee shops, and restaurants. I also started working at an art studio for children. I love my job because the kids give me great inspiration for drawings. It gives me a fresh start on a daily basis, and when I return to my home studio I have new ideas and perspectives.

JC: Your COVID Chronicles are both heart warming and humorous! How did this project come about?

HS: Thank you! The project all started because I wanted to try some new fountain pens I bought at the start of the pandemic. I was sitting at the kitchen table doodling all sorts of feelings and expressions in my sketchbook. They were so much fun I wanted to keep doing more!

The first series, called “Quarantine Moods,” are illustrations of all the different moods I felt like we were going through at the start of the pandemic. I think they helped me get through those first few weeks when everything was so uncertain. It was a reminder that we were all experiencing the same range of emotions, and that we were going to make it through this hard time together. 

JC: You have many wonderful contemporary settings in your work and have done a whole series about the Torrance Bakery. What inspired you to create these pieces?

HS: In one of my illustration courses, we had a “travel log” assignment, which ironically began right when we all went into quarantine! For this project, we chose a place (a favorite city, a restaurant, or even our home) and illustrated different aspects of it. I chose Torrance Bakery because I missed it so much! Before the pandemic, I would always go there on Saturday mornings to do some urban sketching and enjoy a good coffee and pastry. The illustrations let me relive those times vicariously. 

For details about the next Twitter Banner Contest, log into your SCBWI account and learn more here. Dates and prompt will be updated before the contest reopens — stay tuned to SCBWI-L.A. Twitter and Facebook for its announcement!

For more fantastic content, community, events, and other professional development opportunities, become a member today! Not sure if there is a chapter in your area? Check here.

Images provided by Hannah Shafiroff.