Jen Corace

nuts and bolts:

from southern new jersey, graduated from risd with a bfa in illustration in 1996, lives and works in providence, ri, hates sopping wet paper. it makes her gag.

odds and sods:

first dream job was to be a bumper car operator (it could still happen), loves breakfast, loves breakfast for dinner more, loves biking, loves walking more, loves a lot of music but could easily listen to belle and sebastian or the wedding present all day long. non stop.

Most Recent Book
Small World book

"About" and profile image from


What does the illustration process look like for you? What steps and iterations does your work go through?

In general, my process starts off with research. Even if I am working with anthropomorphic characters like Little Hoot or Little Oink it’s helpful for me to have an understanding how those animals look in the real life, how they move and then to interpret that in the creation of the character. It’s important when you make animals upright and put them in clothes that their anatomies work for the story.

After that I will work on the pagination which is essentially small thumbnails of the book that helps break down the text and set the initial visual flow of the book. Next is the first round of sketches, send that into the editor, get notes back, second round of sketches, send to the editor and then I usually get to move onto final artwork.

Does the author or anyone else provide guidance as to what direction to take with illustrations?

Children’s book work is definitely a team effort. I mostly take notes and direction from my editor and art director. At times I will get notes from the author via the editor and I will take that into consideration when I am reworking sketches.

Can you tell us about the path that led you to becoming an illustrator?

Growing up, I had a mom who was very encouraging of my interest in drawing and art. She placed me in many after school and summer art programs and she was the one who talked to my high school guidance counselor about art schools. So she really gave me a lot of support to find my feet and feel like a career in art could be a reality.

Other than that the type of work I naturally am drawn to is narrative in nature, so studying illustration was an obvious fit for me.

What was a highlight of your time at RISD?

RISD operates on a two and a half semester system. The half semester is called Wintersession. It’s a six week period where students can take up to two classes which could be taking an elective class outside their major, filling in liberal arts credits or taking travel classes abroad. My Junior year I was able to take an architecture history/social history class to India. Twenty RISD students and two teachers traveled for five weeks from Mumbai to New Delhi studying the archtecture in relevance to the social structure of India. The sixth week we were allowed to travel on our own so a smaller group of us went to Kathmandu.

It was a really special time.

In addition to illustrating children’s books, what other projects do you work on with your skills as an illustrator?

Ooh … I keep my hands in many pots. It’s part of the reason why I love freelance illustration … I never get bored. The opportunities are wide and varied. I do as many gallery shows as I possibly can. I just closed a show in Providence last week and will have a piece in a group show at Rotofugi in Chicago in December. I’ve done product design for Crate and Barrel, a board game called Lords and Ladies with my brother Jason, two years ago I was asked by Genevieve Gorder to design a one of a kind ornament for former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama. I’ve worked on editorial illustrations for Real Simple, The Smithsonian Magazine, Tin House, UU World Magazine and on and on and on.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

My friends are my family and I spend a lot of time with them. I like to entertain so during the summer I try to have dinners on my front porch. I have a sizeable garden that I try to keep under control. I go on a lot of walks … I love to walk. Oh, I also love to sleep, I’ve got a good bed. But honestly on my downtime I’m often cooking up the next scheme for me to work on.

We’ve heard you’re a big fan of breakfast. What are your favorites?

Currently my favorite breakfast is half a bagel from a local, new bagel shop in town that makes AMAZING bagels, butter, scrambled egg, homemade pickled red onions and chopped up cherry tomatoes. I really enjoy going out to breakfast with someone who will split a sweet dish and a savory dish. I like a waffle, but I never want a whole one … or a whole stack of pancakes. And now that it is getting colder I am looking forward to steel cut oatmeal. I basically love breakfast because it’s so mix and matchy if you do it right. I like to build.

board Books

Little Oink book
families · word play · cleaning · humor · pigs · being yourself · good behavior
Little Oink
Little Hoot book
100 Hidden Gem · families · humor · bedtime · word play · owls · getting ready for bed · playing
Little Hoot
Little Pea book
Best Children's Books by Age · families · food · picky-eating · humor · vegetables · manners · good behavior · health
Little Pea

picture Books

shapes · science · growing up
Small World
Jane Austen · history · female role models · bravery · writing
Brave Jane Austen
Telephone book


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