Meet the Illustrator: David Hohn

by the Brightly Editors

David Hohn’s detailed, expressive illustrations are bursting with emotion, imagination, and a bit of magic. Whether illustrating tales for young readers, like in God Gave Us Family, or covers for middle grade books, as in Tuesdays at the Castle, David’s artwork adds a memorable warmth and vibrancy to the stories. In this installment of Meet the Illustrator, David shares some of his favorite drawings, the children’s book he says is the perfect marriage of text and illustration, and why he thinks kids are natural artists.

What first made you excited about art? 

The children’s books I read as a child. My earliest drawings were ones that I copied from the books I was reading. That’s what I love about children’s books — very often they are the first form of art that people encounter.

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


People. Can’t get enough of them! Everyone tells a story in their face, choice of haircut, clothing choices. They all get recorded in my sketchbooks and eventually make their way into a finished illustration.

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

The scene [from God Gave Us Family] in which the whole wolf family is toasting marshmallows. It’s so cozy, plus who doesn’t love a warm, lightly charred marshmallow?

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

Celie from Jessica Day George’s Tuesdays at the Castle and Patrick from Marianne Hering’s Imagination Station.

Can you draw us a self-portrait?


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

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Adam Rex. Perfect union of illustration style and text.

Why do you think art is important for kids? What can grown-ups do to encourage kids to engage with art? 

Every child is an artist. Art is simply a natural extension of imaginative play. And like imaginative play, it is an opportunity to try out a new idea, or more fully immerse themselves in an idea that has been presented to them. As for encouraging kids to engage or play with art, it’s as simple as making the “toys” (paper, pencils, crayons, play dough, etc) available.

What’s the best name for a color that you’ve ever heard?

Smaragdine (pronounced smuh-RAG-dun). Old word for the color “Emerald Green,” but sounds like it’s straight from Lord of the Rings. Definitely what the Dwarves would have called emeralds!


David Hohn is an award-winning illustrator who graduated with honors from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He lives in Portland, Oregon.