Harbinger Extra: Andrew Mitchell- Interview with the Artist

Follow the Path! 24 incredible illustrators and artists have picked their favorite scenes and characters from HARBINGER to give you a taste of Faye’s world. Each week, in the gallery at the Holbrook Academy website, a new illustration will unlock…

This week’s art reveal is hosted by: Steph Su Reads

Faye on the roof, in Harbinger. Artwork by Andrew Mitchell

SWE: Hi Andrew,

I love this illustration of Faye up on the roof. The deep colors, the moon, the wind, it’s fantastic. Can you tell me why you picked this scene?

Andrew: There were three places in the book that stood out to me as moments where plot, character, and mood all lined up together in a potent way. For me, Faye’s night on the dorm roof early in the novel was the first of those moments.  I imagine she is feeling bits of fear, wonder, anticipation and loneliness.  As an exercise for myself, I set it up as if I were doing a cover for the book.

SWE: You certainly created a potent depiction of this moment! It’s gorgeous.

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

Andrew: Probably at five. I still have my sketchbooks going back to around first grade. Writing and drawing and telling stories has been an imperative.

SWE: Wow, it must be wonderful to have had that sort of certainty early on. Were there any specific children’s books that influenced you?

Andrew: As a kid it would have been The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It was the first chapter book I really connected with and I read it several times. The Jules Feiffer illustrations were a big part of my enjoyment of the book. Today it would be The Savage by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean. What’s common to both books is that it’s hard to imagine the text without the images just as they are.

SWE: I’m just rereading The Phantom Tollbooth for the first time since I was a kid. I know what you mean about the interdependence of words and pictures. My favorite part so far is that Milo has to be quiet while riding in the King’s wagon because… “it goes without saying.” Love it!

I haven’t read The Savage but I love both David Almond and Dave McKean, so I’ll have to pick it up!

Cover for ASJA Magazine about ghostwriting by Andrew Mitchell

What about your own illustrations and stories?

Andrew:: I was the illustrator and coauthor of Draw 50 Magical Creatures, a how-to art book for kids published by Random House. The series was just made part of their ‘classics’ line and moved to the Watson-Guptill imprint. I illustrated Lovesick, a book for teens dealing with cancer issues that was featured on the Today Show. I’m the first cartoonist in the world to have a comic strip published on the mobile phone medium. I’ve recently had illustrations juried into both the 3×3 and Spectrum illustration annuals.

SWE: Wow! It sounds like things are really busy for you! Can you give us a peek at your favorite creature from Draw 50 Magical Creatures?

Party Dragon by Andrew Mitchell

Andrew: My favorite Draw 50 Magical Creature was actually the dragon illustration I did for my publishing party invitation.  No one except friends and family have seen it so you get an exclusive!  I also do covers each month for ASJA magazine. It’s the publication for the American Society of Journalists and Authors. I really like the editor and designer I work with and they have given me lots of creative freedom.  This Sunday, November 13th, I will have a story I wrote and illustrated in the Los Angeles Times feature, the Kids’ Reading Room. I’ve done illustrations for them for a long time but this is the first story I’ve written for them.

LA Times illustration by Andrew Mitchell

SWE: Wow! Congrats! I can’t wait to see what you’ve created… though I guess I’ll have to wait till Sunday.

So… Orangutans or squids?

Andrew: Orangs! I had a great experience sketching them at the San Diego Zoo in preparation for a kids’ book. They took a great interest in me and started to ham it up and perform in front of me. I’ve never had that happen when sketching squid.

SWE: A performing squid is something I wanna see…

So where else do you go when you’re seeking inspiration?

Andrew: To my library. I’m a book fiend.

SWE: What about people who inspire or influence you?

I do all the finished artwork and editing of writing at home. But writing and sketching (which is a form of writing for me) I have to do outside of the house. Where that happens is often at a coffee shop but it's been all over. I've written some good stuff sitting in a parked car with the radio on.

Andrew: The illustrator Ronald Searle is my most significant influence hands down. After him it’s a long and complicated list.

SWE: I know what you mean. When I get this question, I always start with Madeleine L’Engle… then I get carried away and name about twenty other people!

So, what are you working on now?

Andrew: I’m writing and drawing a picture book (about art), a chapter book (about a suburban rat) a non fiction book (about finance for creative people) and I’m doing art for a live action film (a new kind of zombie movie). And a couple other things…

SWE: I love how diverse your work is! Must keep you engaged and interested.

Andrew made me this wonderful birthday card for my 30th!

Okay… and now for the final and most important question… no pressure…Wonder Woman or Supergirl?

Andrew: Wonder Woman. Brunettes win with me. And I always felt like Supergirl was a second thought like Krypto. Sorry, Kara Zor-el.

SWE: Good answer. I’m so glad we can still be friends;)

Thanks so much, Andrew! To see more of Andrew Mitchell’s work, visit ajmitchellart.com, and don’t miss his art and story in this Sunday’s L.A. Times.



6 thoughts on “Harbinger Extra: Andrew Mitchell- Interview with the Artist

  • go andy! i would say “best piece so far” but i don’t want to get beaten up by all the other awesome artists. so: “way to make an awesome piece that is as good as all the other awesome pieces that i have seen so far and they are all special in their own right and i love them all equally!”


  • Wow – Sara & Andy – amazing! I love love love that you’re doing this, and I love this piece. And the Wonder Woman? Well, let’s just say, Rock on!!!

  • Sara, this is such a brilliant idea – sneak previews of your story through the POV’s of these imaginative illustrators. It’s wonderful to see Andrew’s work and learn abut his fascinating career. Can’t wait to read Harbinger!

  • The drawings by Andrew were wonderful, what talent! Great portrayal of Faye, and I am not just saying this because I am Sara’s Mom!

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