CCAD grad Keturah Bobo illustrates joy of human connection in new children’s book

A page from Keturah Bobo's All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book

Columbus College of Art & Design graduate Keturah Bobo (Fine Arts, 2006) has found beauty in telling the stories of underrepresented populations through her illustrations, many of which grace the pages of popular children’s books (including her first picture book, I am Enough, by Grace Byers, which was a New York Times Bestseller). Below, she answers a few questions about her newest illustration project, the children’s book All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book, the first children’s book published by Smithsonian Books.

What was it like working on All the Things You Are: A Joyful ABC Book?

It was exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Exciting because it was this amazing opportunity to make history and be a part of the first children's book published by Smithsonian books and to be a part of the NMAAHC (National Museum of African American History and Culture) history is also mind-blowing. The stressful part is that I had three months to brainstorm and complete the illustrations. So it was basically like running a relay race and passing the baton to myself over and over. It was VERY intense. 

What was your favorite part?

Designing the characters, that will always be my favorite part of anything I do. I love character design, especially when it pertains to under-represented communities.  It's vitally important for children to see themselves being represented in the world.

What does it feel like having your work in the National Museum of African American History and Culture?

It's a dream come true. Even prior to the museum existing, I wanted to be apart of something much bigger than myself. I didn't know it would be a Smithsonian museum based on the history of my own culture, so for my work to lend a hand in the illustrations of this book is a dream.

What are you working on next?

The two other projects I started last year are also children's books: The Night is Yours (Dial Books) and the sequel to I am Enough (Harper Collins), my first published book which is now a New York Times Bestseller. Currently I'm taking a small break but I'm working on a series of my own this year as well.

How did your time at CCAD help you succeed in your career?

CCAD taught me to take my art seriously. Drawing and painting was always a hobby I was passionate about before, but by the time I was a senior I realized how important is was to have an intent and message in your work. Don't paint just to paint, paint with purpose.

What advice would you give to young artists and designers?

Don't give up on yourself or your work, but also don't place unrealistic expectations on what you're trying to do. My recent successes were 10 years in the making. Nothing happens overnight. 

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Learn more about Fine Arts at CCAD or apply here.