Artist Journey: Jade Orlando
last updated 19 January 2022
Vibrant, talented, cat-lover. These are just a few words that accurately describe the lovely Jade Orlando. Her passion for art dates to her childhood when she would dream of a career filled with color and doodles but didn’t know it even existed. Fast-forward to now, and Jade holds her favorite title: Illustrator. During her time with Bright, Jade has made her mark on the world of children’s publishing through her stand-out style and work on books introducing conversations of activism and racial reconciliation to young readers. We hope you love getting to know her better below! Enjoy.
If you could describe your artistic style in one word, what would it be? Explain.
I think “Vibrant” is a good word. I work in a lot of different areas of illustration, from products and licensing, to publishing and editorial. Each type of illustration might have a different technique or look, but I try to create work that is vibrant with color, texture, and pattern. I love incorporating traditional media like watercolor and gouache, because it brings a handmade quality I haven’t been able to recreate digitally. My art is very bright and joyful, and I hope that is clear when people look at my art.
What inspired you to become an illustrator?
I’ve been drawing since I was old enough to hold a crayon, and have been stuck on art ever since. As a kid, I didn’t know illustrating could be my job, so I’d tell people I wanted to be a special effects artist, or the person who draws the characters on cereal boxes. I loved the idea of making the art that I saw in books and on products all around me! Toward the end of high school, I started researching art schools and finally learned the name of my dream career: Illustration.
I was very lucky to have a family that supported my creativity and encouraged me to go to art school. I attended the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia and earned my BFA in Illustration. After graduating, I worked for several years doing artwork and graphic design for a small product development agency, then I moved to Atlanta to do children’s apparel illustration as a corporate artist. I learned a ton, but eventually decided I wanted to work for myself, so I built my portfolio and took the plunge to freelance full-time in 2018.
It’s been an incredible journey from doodling in my notebook as a kid, to illustrating full-time in 2021. It took a while to land on what felt “right”, but every step on my path so far has taught me so much and helped me toward the career I love.
What is one thing in your studio you cannot live without? Why?
There are a lot of things in the studio I don’t think I could live without, but if my scanner died I would be totally lost! I use it multiple times a day to scan textures, doodles, and paintings to combine digital work into final art. A scanner doesn’t seem very exciting, except to us illustrators who use traditional media. Clients expect to receive final artwork in a digital format, so a good scanner is vital!
Some days when I’m not working toward an intense deadline and need a break, I’ll take a few hours to just draw out textures and patterns without considering a final use. At the end of the day, I’ll scan all the bits to clean up in Photoshop, and then save them into an archive of folders to use in future illustrations. I have a folder for patterns like checks, stripes, leopard prints, and florals that I often pull to use in illustrations with clothing or textiles. I also have a folder for textures and shadows that I can use to add dimension to digital art. It saves a lot of time to have some pre-made elements to drop into artwork. Thank you, scanner! You’re the MVP.
What is your favorite title you have worked on during your time with Bright? What character do you resonate with the most from that story?
Every book I’ve had the opportunity to work on has been an amazing experience! There is one in particular that has a special place in my heart. “Who Takes Care of You?” is a board book coming out later this year with Simon & Schuster. It’s a simple book exploring the different caregivers in a baby’s life, but it has such an important message in showing kids that childcare looks different for every family, and that every type of caregiver can be a source of love and support.
This book really resonated with me, as I grew up with my single mom in a biracial family. I wanted to make sure to show a diverse group of babies and caregivers, so that every child will be able to find a situation they relate to. The child on every page is different so there isn’t one recurring character to follow through the book, but as a shoutout to my own parents I gave the baby on the cover hands of two different skin tones to hold. I’m so excited for this book to be released, and hope it helps the kids reading it see the love they are surrounded by.
What types of projects do we have to look forward to from you?
2021 has been such a busy and exciting year! A gorgeous book called “Bedtime Stories: Beautiful Black Tales from the Past” is coming in October, illustrated by several awesome artists. “Who Takes Care of You” is coming out in December of this year. In early 2022, a cute series about accepting differences and taking turns is coming out from the makers of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Also in 2022, I’ll be working on my first two full length trade picture books, which is a dream come true! Finally, I’m hard at work on a series of board books about allyship and activism for babies, and can’t wait for those to be released.
Jade is represented by Anne Moore Armstrong at The Bright Agency.
Other books Jade has contributed to or illustrated while at Bright
Miss last month’s Artist Journey blog? Click here to learn all about Stephanie Laberis! Check back each month to learn more about the featured artist, and how they came to shine so Bright!