Interview Freelance Illustrator Michele Rosenthal

Freelance Illustrator Michele Rosenthal is from Brooklyn, her latest book ‘The Trouble With Falling Sleep’ is a collaboration with StoryPanda. Here we share our interview with Michele where talk about Brooklyn, her math competition in 5th grade, her new book, twitter & more.

“New York City in general, is an incredibly creative place to live. You meet so many people who not only are highly motivated and working on cool projects.”Michele Rosenthal


self-treeWho is Michele Rosenthal?

I’m a freelance Illustrator who lives and works in Brooklyn. I have two brothers, it’s my lifelong goal to watch all the films in the Criterion Collection, and I won a school-wide math competition in 5th grade.

Whats the creative scene like in Brooklyn? Is it a vibrant place you enjoy living?

Brooklyn specifically, and New York City in general, is an incredibly creative place to live. You meet so many people who not only are highly motivated and working on cool projects, but eager to collaborate as well. It’s very energizing. I love living here, and I have a hard time imagining myself leaving.

Aside from the math competition in 5th grade, has your work gained you any other awards or national/worldwide attention?

I also won an ad design competition in 6th grade. I’m still waiting for the world to catch up to my elementary school, basically.

Tell us more about your new book ‘The Trouble with Falling Asleep’

It’s the story of a boy who is kept awake by an overactive imagination. He decides to fight off his made-up villains with made-up heroes, which gave me a chance to draw a fun cast of characters. Since it was created in collaboration with Storypanda, there are interactive elements on each page, and at the very end the reader gets to go back and create their own version of what happens.

Can you share with us some initial concepts/sketches that showed the progression of your ideas for the book?


My sketches tend to be rougher when I’m doing work for myself instead of showing it to a client. But here you can see some different ideas for the room’s layout, which was important to get right because the entire story takes place in that one location.

What is your current working setup? Do you have a set workstation?

Since I work digitally, I don’t need a huge setup. And while I do have a work desk in my living room, with some pencils and sketchbooks and other important knickknacks, I usually end up doing my drawing and designing from the couch.

Do you prefer to sketch with or without music/radio?

I’ll sketch with music, television, movies, while having conversations with friends, podcasts, audiobooks, you name it. I find that drawing uses a completely different part of the brain than listening, so I can easily do both at once. Watching Netflix while I work is how I got through every consecutive episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.


Who have been your own biggest creative influences? Which illustrators inspire your work today?

I can hardly answer this question, because as soon as I name one illustrator, there are 50 other names I’ve left out. Mary Blair and Andy Warhol will always be huge influences in everything I do. Chris Van Allsburg and Lane Smith were my two childhood favorites. Paul Blow, Jack Hughes, Kali Ciesemier, James Boast, Angie Wang, Mitch Blunt, Melinda Beck, Meg Hunt, and Andrew Lyons are just a small fraction of the contemporary illustrators I greatly admire.

If you could be offered a dream project to illustrate and work for any writer who would it be? & Why?

My brother Mike is a writer. If he ever decides to write a children’s book, I would love to illustrate it.

What route through education did you follow before landing your first design job?

I studied illustration at Syracuse University, graduated in 2007, and somehow used my illustration portfolio to land a job designing kid’s watches. I’m not sure how that happened. The job was fine, but my career really started a few years later when I left that company and began freelancing.


Do you have any favourite people to follow on twitter?

I mostly reserve Twitter for people that I know or artists that I’ve connected with, rather than the artists I admire from afar. Two of my favorite Twitter people are my brothers @JeffareHappy and @VectorBelly.

Where do you see the rest of 2014 taking you?

It’s impossible for me to judge whether my illustration is “good” or not—the only thing I can say is whether I’ve improved. So my main goal in 2014 is to make better work than I made in 2013. That’s my goal every year.



Website | Tumblr | @dialmformichele