Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Building an Artist's Collective

by Sue Heavenrich

Annie Z ~Night (self portrait)
Annie Zygarowicz and Johanna van Der Sterre were successful illustrators when life - and the economy - pushed them off course. Annie delved into graphic design, developing brochures, websites, and providing a range of publicity services. Johanna managed to carve out some time for painting and began sharing her love of art through a series of art workshops at the local library.

Last summer, both decided they were ready to dive back into children's book illustration. While chatting one day, they wondered whether they could collaborate on marketing - maybe share a website or do some local art shows.

Johanna ~ Day
"But our artwork is so different," said Johanna. She paints animals and scenery with a bright, lively watercolor palette and then digitally refines them. Annie focuses mainly on digital character design and scenes using dark, muted colors.  Johanna's art embraces picture books; Annie's tends towards the middle grade readers. Their work is as different, and as complementary, as night and day - a description that captures the mood of their work as well. Annie's paintings are dark and mysterious while Johanna's tend toward the sunny.

So, in July, they established the Night and Day art collective. Since then, they've added two new members: Marie Sanderson and Jennifer Gibson, whom Annie and Johanna had met in 2016 as part of an art gallery tour. Marie’s serene farm scenes and animals are painted with loose pastel watercolors, with the gentle feeling of "dawn". Jennifer paints plein aire landscapes with gouche and watercolor, garnering her the nickname "dusk".
Jennifer ~ Dusk

Between them, they've illustrated traditionally published and indie-published picture books and are busy working on new projects. As a collective, their goal is to support each other and promote each other's art. Some artist collectives form to share work space and materials. At this point, the Night and Day collective is more oriented to support.  They plan to get together on a monthly basis, like a critique group.

"We want to fit our skills together to collaborate on projects and also explore ways that illustrators can help each other," Johanna said.  To that end, she and Marie are working on holiday cards for a local show.
Marie ~ Dawn

The Night and Day Art Collective website, is currently under construction and should be ready to unveil next month. And you can find out more about each illustrator, and check out their online art galleries, at their individual websites:


  1. Thank you, Sue, for this lovely story of artists seeking ways to support each other and when possible, work together. Annie, Johanna, Marie and Jennifer create beautiful art!

  2. What a great way to harness lots creative artists and the work. Team work works! TY, Sue and all the best Annie, Johanna, Marie and Jennifer!

  3. Knowing these four illustrators, it's fun to see how their individual personalities shine through in their work. I also enjoyed seeing their work in the same post to compare styles. Thanks, Sue.

  4. What a fabulous collaboration!
    Best of luck to all of you.

  5. Great idea for these people! The Girllustrators from Texas also are a close knit group and critique each other well. I recently had a 4 month stint with them through Mark Mitchell's class and they were extremely helpful to me as a student.

  6. Thank you all, for your lovely compliments.