Get To Know Our Illustrators: Ricky Aguilar

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I have been a member of SCBWI for a little under a year now. The most impactful thing I have learned from SCBWI is how big the community is and how much everyone is willing to help each other. I know it's a bit corny, but I really feel that teamwork makes the dream work–and so far, everyone I have met on SCBWI is a great example of that.

My current mediums of choice are watercolor and ink, both in traditional and digital formats. But if I had to pick one, it would be traditional ink on hot-press paper. Digital art can produce some smashing results, but my love for paper is really hard to beat.

The process I use depends on how clear the idea is, but generally, I like to start by sketching. These are fast, two to five minute small thumbnails to get the basic details out. From there, I'll make medium thumbs in monotone to get the values. Color picking is a bit tricky to describe, but often, I feel like the color picks itself. By the time I get to the final, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do and just have fun getting it done. I would say this is my quickest process so far, but I feel creativity shouldn't be boxed in. If time allows, I like to experiment as much as possible.

About three years ago I started taking illustration seriously, but I have been drawing since I was a kid. I would say I started in third grade. My difficulties learning led to me being held back a year in school. After my friends moved forward and I was left behind, I had a lot of time to draw and grew a passion for it. Back then, I only drew characters, but over time, I learned to tell better visual stories.

I am mostly self-taught, but owe a lot to many great teachers who helped me get to where I am today. The closest thing to art school has been attending Storyteller Academy. In the last two years, I have been a member of STA, where I have learned how to create better visual stories. My art space is in a corner of my room. It is a space containing everything I need to create my art and stories. While someday I would like to have a studio, I feel fortunate to have a place to be creative.

My dream book to illustrate someday is a spooky, wordless picture book. Tim Burton has inspired me a lot, and I would love to have that tone of work out in the world. I'm currently working on a nature-themed picture book. Camping is an activity I do regularly to find inspiration. I'm excited to share parts of my outdoor experiences through a picture book.

It's a much slower process than illustration, but I like to write as well. When I enrolled in Storyteller Academy, I went in with the intention of only illustrating. But having the tools to tell my own stories was too good to pass up. This was a scary step when I first started because while I have not been officially diagnosed, a form of dyslexia has definitely made reading and writing a struggle. While spell check has helped me a lot, I will still mix up simple things like the "i" and the "r" in friend. Thankfully, my critique groups have been super supportive and have allowed me the time and space to hone in on my writing.

My tips for illustrators starting out is always try to have a sketchbook nearby.

I'm currently unagented and looking for representation. I feel fortunate to have just been named a 2024 PB Pitch Finalist. Also I was a finalist in Storyteller Academy’s 2023 Manuscript Showcase and was a 2023 PB Rising Star Runner-Up. My art was published in the 2023 issue of The Little Press Literary Magazine.

You can view my website at I'm pretty active on instagram as @ricxter.

An interesting fact about me is I have 2 younger brothers, which I feel very fortunate to have. Also I was a web developer for a little over 14 years. Recently I have found the art of Eyvind Earle very inspiring. I made an off grid system that lets me cook with solar energy when I go camping.

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