Juana Medina was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the illustrator of Smick! by Doreen Cronin and the author-illustrator of Juana & Lucas, One Big Salad, and ABC Pasta. She was awarded the 2017 Pura Belpré Author Award for Juana & Lucas. The annual Pura Belpré Awards honor Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.
Juana & Lucas received this starred review from Booklist: "Through this strong, adventurous, and smart female protagonist, Medina presents an extraordinary story about the many opportunities learning a new language can bring. Full-color illustrations provide excellent depictions of Juana’s life in Bogotá and allow readers to connect with her character and culture."
Juana Medina has studied and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and now teaches at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University. She lives in Washington, D.C.
Learn more about Juana Medina on her website.
We caught up with Juana for a few minutes and here are the things we learned about her during our Q&A.
Q1: What three things would we always find in your creative space/studio?
Juana: Ink, paper & fountain pens.
Q2: When did you know that you wanted to be an illustrator and author?
Juana: I can't think of a point where I specifically knew I wanted to become an illustrator or author. I've always wanted to share stories (through drawings and words) and, somehow, books naturally became a way to share these stories.
Fortunately, though, there have been many moments where I have felt very lucky to be an author and an illustrator that I remember vividly. Most of these moments have taken place while in school visits or readings, where I've had a chance to see firsthand the impact stories and books have in young readers.
Q3: What authors or illustrators have most inspired you?
Juana: There are many! I'll share three creatives I greatly look up to: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s writings have inspired me very deeply. I can't think of anyone who has described so vividly or beautifully the surreal country where I come from.
Illustrator Quentin Blake has filled my imagination with his incredibly charming visual interpretations of stories. Last, but never least, industrial designer and ceramist Eva Zeisel has been a tremendous inspiration in finding beauty in the simplest of forms.
Q4: Our festival theme this year is Twists & Turns. Which would you rather play, Twister or dominoes?
Juana: Depends on the pants I might be wearing. If stretchy, Twister, without a doubt.