Shelley Hanmo is a freelance illustrator based in Indianapolis, Indiana, who specializes in illustrating children’s books and creating artwork for kids.

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I am a self-taught illustrator specialized in hand-cut paper art for children’s books. Working in such a hands-on medium, I love exploring different possibilities of colors, shapes, layers, and textures in pieces of paper. Besides using paper collage techniques, I also incorporate watercolor, colored pencils, and digital mediums into my final illustrations. Being a storyteller, my artistic inspirations often come from my life experience as a woman of color, immigrant, professional musician, as well as my love for nature and conservation. Therefore, you will find lots of fun characters and quirky stories in my illustrations.


  • Truly Co. Magazines
  • Mighty Kind Children’s Magazines
  • United We Dream
  • Kurandza
  • Indy Maven


What was your favorite storybook as a child?
My favorite childhood storybooks include fairytales by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Those stories are wild and full of imagination. I believe they paved the way for my interest in children’s books.

Which authors do you admire most?
My favorite authors include C. S. Lewis, the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen, Maurice Sendak, Eric Carle, and more. They are the true masters of building fictional worlds where unique characters live in.

What characteristic really brings a children’s book to life?
I believe a great children’s book has three important components. First, it creates a unique world where we as readers want to explore further. Second, the characters in the story are relatable to us. They may inspire, connect, resonate, and empathize with us; and they can make us feel warm, loved, cherished, and motivated. Third, the text of a good children’s book goes hand in hand with the illustrations. One shall not exist without the other because they are equally important.

Like what you see by SHELLEY HANMO?