Meet the Illustrator: Adam F. Watkins

by the Brightly Editors

Photo credit: Jonah Otchy

Whether laboring over picture books like the new Raybot and Weebot (which he wrote as well as illustrated) or the Literally Disturbed rhyming story compilations, Adam F. Watkins can be counted on for meticulous detail and a playfully twisted imagination. In our Meet the Illustrator conversation, Adam shares his favorite illustration from Raybot and Weebot, creates a delightful self-portrait, and revels in the back-and-forth inspiration he enjoys with his children.

What first made you excited about art?

Well, I’ve been excited about art as far back as I can remember. I think most little kids are. I would color and draw all the time. I give credit to my parents for encouraging me and helping me feel like I had a talent. I won a poster contest in third grade and I’ve had the bug ever since.

What’s your favorite thing to draw at the moment?

At the moment, I’ve been really into drawing animals. I like exploring different ways of giving them human qualities.

Sketch by Adam Watkins

Which illustration from your latest book did you especially enjoy creating?

My favorite illustration from Raybot and Weebot would have to the first page. I really like portraits and doing a portrait type illustration with a robot, puppy, and parrot is something you don’t see every day.

Raybot and Weebot Spread

This is your third book that features a robot — what do you love about robots?

I love the creative freedom you get when creating robots. However you imagine a robot to look, that’s what the robot looks like. You don’t have to follow the “rules” of anatomy or likeness.

Illustrator Adam F. Watkins inspiration: robots

Which characters from your books would you like to spend time with?

At this point, considering most of my books star robots, I’d say Raybot, Parrot, and any of the characters from R Is for Robot.


Can you draw us a self-portrait?

Adam F. Watkins self-portrait

What illustrated book have you read recently and been wowed by? 

I’m always wowed by the wonderful illustrations by Robert Ingpen in Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows.


Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?

Other illustrators. I’m a sucker for guys like C.F. Payne, Loren Long, Peter DeSève, etc. The list is far too long to include here. It’s their work that evokes inspiration inside me and drives me to get better with my craft.


How do you get your kids excited about art?

My son is five and my daughter is eight. They both love to color and draw. In fact, I think just seeing me working on picture books is enough to get them excited about creating things from their imaginations.

What have your kids taught you about books and reading?

They’ve taught me that children are much smarter than adults give them credit for. They get the little jokes in books that might be put in there for the parent’s amusement. In some ways, kids are more perceptive than grown-ups.

Adam F. Watkins lives in southern Ohio with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Lucy. He graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 2004, where he majored in illustration, studying under C. F. Payne his junior and senior years. He worked for an advertising agency in Cincinnati after graduation and is now a full-time freelancer. He loves children’s books and the outdoors.