A Word From Jade Orlando

A Word From Jade Orlando

Since I was a just a kid, drawing has been my passion. With a pencil in hand, I would let my imagination fly free, filling the pages of my notebooks with mythical creatures and vibrant characters. Back then, I didn’t know that art could be more than just a hobby. I wondered who designed the beautiful artwork I saw all around me—the unicorn pattern on my backpack, the print on my t-shirt, and even the characters on cereal boxes. In high school, I finally discovered that my dream career had a name: illustration! From that moment on, I knew I wanted to use my artistic skills to tell stories and bring joy to people.

With the support of my family, I followed my passion and attended college to study Illustration. It was an amazing adventure, full of challenges and surrounded by other students who loved art just as much as I did. With my shiny new degree in hand, I stepped out into the world of Illustration, where I was lucky enough to land a job creating artwork for kids’ clothing!

As much as I loved seeing my art being worn by kids around the world, my true dream was to work for myself. So, I took a leap of faith and started my own illustration business. It was a bit scary at first, but I worked really hard to fill my portfolio with amazing artwork and catch the eye of businesses. It worked! I got an agent, who helped me find wonderful projects illustrating children's books. Now, I have the opportunity to use my artwork to tell stories and inspire the kids who read them, just like I was inspired as a young girl.

There are many paths to becoming an Illustrator. You don’t have to wait until you’re grown up to work toward your dreams! With videos on the internet and books in the library, you can develop your drawing skills and feed your creativity. Keep drawing, keep imagining, and keep learning. Maybe one day you’ll be telling stories of your own as an illustrator! 

When I was younger, I entered lots of drawing competitions. It was a fun way to stretch my creative brain.

One of the first competitions I won was a Christmas card designing contest in middle school. I was over the moon with excitement when I saw my Christmas card printed by the school that year. It was an amazing feeling to see my artwork come to life and be shared with others.

Winning that first competition was exciting, and I entered more competitions in my local community and online. (Be sure to check with your parents for help entering and to make sure the competition is safe!) Winning was exciting, but there were also many other competitions that I didn't win, and that's okay too! I learned a lot from every competition. Each contest gave me the chance to explore new ideas, try different styles, and discover my strengths as an artist. Even when I didn't win, I gained experience in art and had lots of fun in the process.

Drawing competitions are a fantastic way to unleash your creativity. It's exciting to see what ideas spring forth based on the competition guidelines. When designing based on set guidelines, you’ll be thinking like a true illustrator!

The author and editor work together to get the story just right, while the illustrator and art director job was to bring Stephanie’s story to life with colourful pictures to draw readers in!

When I got the chance to work on 'I'm Going to Be a Princess', I couldn’t pass it up! Taylor's story about Maya, a strong little girl determined to follow her dreams with the support of her mum, reminded me of myself and my dream of becoming an artist. My job for the book was to bring Stephanie’s story to life with beautiful illustrations.

First, I designed the characters.  Maya’s spirit and determination helped me create her character, with curly hair as wild as her heart. I wanted to capture the close bond between Maya and her mum, so I made sure their expressions showed their love. And since the story included real-life women from history, I learned about them to draw their likenesses.

Next, I worked on rough sketches for the whole story. Since 'I’m Going to Be a Princess' takes place in the UK while I live in the USA, I researched Britain for the backgrounds. Did you know that ambulances are different colours in the USA compared to the UK? Working with the art director, I edited details like this until the sketches were just right and ready to be brought to life.

Finally, it was time for my favourite part: colouring my sketches! Illustrators use everything from paints, to pencils, to collage to create their final artwork. I used paints to make the illustrations come alive, then finished the artwork on the computer for the final touches.

It was so much fun to bring Stephanie's story to life through illustration. Creating a picture book is a big job, with lots of creative people working together. But it’s worth it to see the finished story in stores, inspiring kids all over the world. I hope you’ll enjoy reading ‘I’m Going to Be a Princess’ as much as I loved illustrating it!


I'm going to be a princess

Taylor, Stephanie


A warm and witty celebration of the lives of amazing Black women. What will Maya be when she grows up? A rocket scientist like Annie Easley? An Olympic athlete like Alice Coachman? A brain surgeon like Alexa Canady? In this heart-warming and funny story, Maya discovers the achievements of some incredible Black women . . . but it's a brave Nigerian princess who really captures her imagination!This uplifting and empowering picture book is the perfect gift for any young reader.

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About the Author

Jade Orlando

I’m Jade, an illustrator living in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2018, I left my job of seven years as a staff children’s apparel artist to freelance full-time. My work can be found in books, apparel, advertising and licensing, with clients from Hallmark to the ACLU. I live in the ‘burbs with my husband, three cats, and a Greyhound named Petra. When I’m not not illustrating, you can usually find me curled up with my pets and a really good book.