• Omar Abed

About the Illustrator - Nejla Shojaie

Updated: Aug 25, 2019

For a picture book to tell a story effectively, the words and illustrations have to work together.

Lucky for me, I found Nejla Shojaie to help me tell the story in "You, Me, and a Tree".


Nejla is an Iranian artist currently living in Turkey. Though she has her Masters degree in Biochemistry, she nurtured her childhood passion for painting and drawing into her career as an illustrator.


I met Nejla through a freelancing website back in May, and I could immediately tell that she understood the vibe I was trying to achieve with "You, Me, and a Tree". I'm not sure how else I could have gone from this:

My (very rough) cover sketch for "You, Me, and a Tree"

to this:

Nejla's front cover illustration

To select the illustrator for this book, I posted the project and filtered through the portfolios for the artists who submitted responses. One of the sketches from Nejla immediately caught my attention:

Her use of lighting, shadows, and textures gave me all kinds of hope for "You, Me, and a Tree".


A few other illustrations from Nejla showed her artistic range:

Once I had chosen the finalists based on their portfolios of past work, I asked for sketches for "You, Me, and a Tree" to help make my final decision. Even without color, Nejla's character sketches had me excited about the possibilities.

Nejla's sketch for "You, Me, and a Tree"

I needed the illustrations in "You, Me, and a Tree" to capture complex situations and emotions through minor facial expressions and details, and Nejla delivered. Here are some of my favorite illustrations from "You, Me, and a Tree".


The colors, lighting, textures, and depth all helped to capture the emotions in "You, Me, and a Tree". Each page spread is truly its own work of art!


You can find more of Nejla's work in "Ruby the Rainbow Witch".

And of course, if you haven't already, find Nejla's work in "You, Me, and a Tree", sold on Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

I recommend you take a look at the rest of Nejla's art on Facebook (Nejla Sh) and Instagram (@sh.nejla), and if you are considering an artist for a project, you should definitely consider contacting Nejla. Aside from being an excellent artist, she was very accommodating and easy to work with, and her price was very fair compared to the other illustrators I considered.


Nejla enjoys working with creative authors and bringing their ideas to life through her illustrations. In her spare time, Nejla enjoys listening to music, watching movies, reading, and traveling.


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© Omar Abed, 2020

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