Name: Noah Grigni
Specialties: freelance illustrator and comic artist, currently working in the realm of children’s books and indie comics
Style: bold, colorful, playful, dreamy, escapist imagery, influenced by magical realism, poetry, and nightlife
How to hire: If you’re interested in hiring me to illustrate your children’s book or book cover, please contact my literary agent, Kelly Sonnack, at email@example.com. If you’re interested in commissioning me for private work, you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to support: If you are a sweet angel who wants to support me financially — thank you so much!!! Bless your kind soul. You can make a one-time donation via Ko-fi, or support me on a monthly basis in exchange for rewards via Patreon. My income is very unstable as a freelancer, so I appreciate any support I can get, no matter how small.
Current affiliations: Represented by Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Graduate of Lesley University College of Art and Design 2018 (BFA in illustration).
Previous work: Illustrator of The Every Body Book by Rachel E. Simon (coming 2020), The Ship We Built by Lexie Bean (coming 2020), It Feels Good To Be Yourself: A Book About Gender Identity by Theresa Thorn (2019), The Gender Identity Workbook For Kids by Kelly Storck (2018), and The Worry Workbook For Kids by Muniya Khanna (2018). Illustrated the covers of Boston Pride Guide (2019) and The Other Animals: An Audible Original (2019). Short comic featured in We’re Still Here: An All-Trans Comic Anthology by Avery and Thornton (2018). One illustration featured in The Transgender Heroes Coloring Book by Avery and Cameron (2019).
Current projects: I’m currently working on my (first ever!!) graphic novel, Cloudland, coming in 2021 from First Second! Cloudland is a story about friendship, learning to love yourself, and growing up trans in Georgia, based loosely on my own experiences with those three things. This project is very dear to me, and it feels like my baby. I’m super excited about, and grateful for, this opportunity to finally share it with the world.
What was your first project that made you feel like a real artist and how did you get it?
The first project that made me feel like a real artist would have to be illustrating It Feels Good To Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn. I was so lucky to get this job! During my senior year at art school, I was contacted out of the blue by an editor, Kate Farrell, who told me she had found my website and was interested in hiring me. She described the book to me, and I fell in love with it. Kate was — and still is — amazing to work with! She showed me the ropes of the children’s publishing industry in a sense, helped me overcome my imposter syndrome, and gave me the push I needed to really start my career. Before this job, I had illustrated two mental health workbooks, but they were very low-budget and I didn’t have much creative freedom. This was the first job I got that gave me the freedom (and budget) to publish my art the way I really wanted it to be seen: in full color, celebrating values that align with my own, and envisioning a future that I’d like to live in. I spent 6 months illustrating it with watercolor, ink, and gouache on paper. This book is so important to me! You can buy it here if you’re interested.
What is your primary inspiration when creating art?
That’s a hard question, because inspiration for me isn’t something that I can easily pin down. I’m inspired by my friends and my chosen family. I’m inspired by my community’s resilience and creativity; I’m in awe of our ability to survive, thrive, and love each other even in the worst of circumstances. I consume art constantly, and I draw a lot of inspiration from creators across disciplines. Two of my favorite writers are James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni, and two of my favorite visual artists are Moonassi and Tillie Walden, but there are many more, far too many to name. Some of my best concepts come to me in the form of dreams or “shower thoughts” — weird little ideas that pop into my head at odd hours, which I write down in my sketchbook and come back to later. Keeping a sketchbook and writing down my thoughts without inhibition is an important part of my creative process.
What other artists do you use to learn technique?
I have learned technique through a traditional art education, including foundation studies, painting, sculpture, ceramics, printmaking, color theory, graphic design, typography, animation, art history, and other classes. My illustration studies have included realism, anatomy, life drawing, sequential art, creative writing, fashion, storyboarding, book-making, self-publishing, etc. I’ve actually had to unlearn a lot of the rules I was taught in order to develop my own style, and embrace my own way of making art. I’m not the type to glorify or copy specific artists. I think it’s important to expose yourself to a wide range of influences, and practice drawing in a wide range of styles. The only way you can improve your technique is by practicing. I draw every single day. If I go more than a few days without drawing, I start to feel weird.
Where would you like to see yourself in five years with your art?
I would like to keep writing and illustrating books! And, I would like to make a sustainable income doing it. I would like to make enough money to pay rent, buy groceries, afford health insurance, own a car, provide for my cat, travel, AND save for the future. That would be really sexy.
What would your dream project be?
My dream project is Cloudland!! I’m already working on it!
Final four questions –we ask everybody
Q) When the zombies take over the world, where will you be?
I will be in my cocoon of an apartment, with my beloved roommates and cat, mixing drinks and blasting Bad Bunny and not giving a fuck.
Q ) How do you identify: Jedi, lesbian, Ninja, gay, vampire, bisexual, werewolf, transgender, pirate, asexual, fairy, aromantic, sith, intersex, Spartan, nonbinary, wizard, genderfluid, time lord, queer…? ?
I am a queer, nonbinary, transmasculine human. I was assigned female at birth, I came out as trans in high school, and I started identifying as nonbinary in college. My understanding of gender and sexuality are constantly evolving, so I guess you could say my gender and sexuality are both fluid. Other parts of my identity and experience: Italian American, Southern, white (privileged), able-bodied, neurodivergent, Gen Z, 22-year-old, leftist, nerd, slut, traveler, cat dad, book lover, cilantro hater, tattoo collector, tarot enthusiast, introvert, vegetarian, agnostic, sometimes teacher, sometimes curator, biker, writer, dancer, friend, born and raised in Atlanta, now living in Boston.
Q) What piece of art, be it in the form of music, a book, a film or picture, do you think people must experience before they die?
Not to sound too basic, but everyone should watch Princess Mononoke by Studio Ghibli.
Q) Give one fact that most people would not believe about you?
I eat lemons and limes whole, including the peel.