ANISA’S INTERNATIONAL DAY Interview: Illustrator Aaliya Jaleel

I’m excited to welcome and interview talented illustrator Aaliya Jaleel who created beautiful art for ANISA’S INTERNATIONAL DAY. I’d always wanted to work with Aaliya and when ANISA’s story came into fruition, I requested that Aaliya illustrated and was so excited when she said YES to this project! She captures Anisa’s spirit perfectly and I can’t wait for readers to fall in love with our story. It releases in 11 days! You can order it here. Without further ado, welcome Aaliya!

  1. What do YOU hope people think or feel when they see the cover and pictures for ANISA’S INTERNATIONAL DAY?

International Day was always one of my most favorite days at school. I loved everyone coming together to share their different cultures and backgrounds through food, clothes, and fun activities. I wanted to capture the magic and excitement that International Day brings to students in the cover illustration. For the interior art, I wanted to aid in helping people connect and really get a good understanding of these wonderful characters and what they bring to the story.

  1. How did you hear about this project? Does an email land directly in your inbox or go through an agent?

I believe Molly Fehr, the designer for this book, contacted my agent Alex Gehringer at BRIGHT who sent me the plot summary and all the details.

  1. Do you read the whole book before signing on to illustrate/design the cover? What drew you to this project?

Once I had already signed on for the project they sent me the full manuscript that I had the pleasure of reading before I started working on the cover. The plot definitely drew me in to the project at first but the characters are really what gave life to all the artwork I had the wonderful opportunity of working on for this book.

4. Would you share your design process and vision?

This was actually the first project I’ve worked on where I sent in one singular sketch concept that got approved right away. I usually have a couple of varying ideas but for this book I had a clear vision in wanting to depict “International Day” the way I remembered it as a kid. I wanted the characters to be the main subjects all with clothing and items from their different cultures as well as the colorful bright flags from all different countries shining brightly in the background.

5. A tip for illustrators or designers?

Keep creating. Keep drawing and designing things that you love and inspire you and don’t be shy to share your work with others.

6. Just for fun, where’s your favorite local place to go?

Interabang Books in Dallas and this summer in particular I’ve been loving the McKinney Farmers Market at Chestnut Square

7. What’s your favorite snack?

Haribo Twin Snakes or Peach Rings, any type of gummy candy really.

8. What’s your favorite beauty product or skin care item?

The Rare Beauty liquid blush in the color Joy! It’s the perfect little boost even if you’re not wearing any other makeup and a little bit goes a long way.

9. Any next projects you have coming up? Please share the links of how we can support and follow you!

I have quite a few books coming out within the next year!

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @Aaliyamj to find out more about these projects!

Aaliya’s dreamy website is here.

Thank you so much Aaliya for your interview; I loved learning about your creative process and can’t wait to celebrate ANISA’S INTERNATIONAL DAY with you!


P.S. If you enjoyed this illustrator interview, you may enjoy these:

Anoosha Syed here 

Mikela Prevost here

Soumbal Qureshi here

Fahmida Azim here


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