Welcome to The Art of an Illustrator with Carla Hoffenberg!

It’s exciting to continue our new series with amazing kidlit illustrators and author-illustrators. It is with great pleasure to introduce the talented Carla Hoffenberg to the blog to talk about her illustration journey and inspirations, as well as her illustrated titles including Little Shark Lulu is Sleeping and the vibrant Mia’s Glamma. Carla is one of the contributors of the Just Write For Kids Australia and Friends anthology, Our Australian HeART. Her piece, New Life at the Great Barrier Reef, is a gorgeously magical and playful underwater scuba diving adventure created with digital brushes, that truly sweeps you into the scene. Thanks for sharing your stunning work with us, Carla! 🙂

About the Author / Illustrator

Carla Hoffenberg is a children’s book illustrator, residing in Sydney. She grew up in Johannesburg and lived in NYC.

Carla is passionate about bringing fun, connection and learning opportunities to kids through optimistic and imaginative illustrations. She has illustrated two published books ‘Little Shark Lulu is Sleeping’ and ‘Mia’s Glamma’.

Carla loves the ocean and is always working on her next children’s book project.

Find her books and visit Carla Hoffenberg at her website: www.carlahoffenberg.com and on Instagram and Substack.

Our Australian HeART can be purchased via the Just Write For Kids Australia website.

Carla, thank you for joining me to chat about your amazing work!

How did you come to be an artist?

When I was little, I would spend hours drawing and loved creating birthday cards. However, as an adult, I pursued a career in finance. It wasn’t until the first lockdown hit and I found myself searching for something to do that I started sketching pictures of my kids. Little did I know that this simple act would lead me down the path of becoming a full-time illustrator. I now have two published picture books, my work included in ‘Our Australian Heart’ and a picture book on the way.

What does art and illustrating children’s books mean to you?

Illustrating children’s books allows me to to create joyful moments in kids’ lives, whether it’s spending quality time with a loved one, exposing them to new ideas or helping them to understand the world a little better. Also, I’m happy that I can play a small part in improving literacy, which opens doors and leads to more fruitful lives.

Tell us a bit about your published works.

Little Shark Lulu… Is Sleeping

(written by Josie Montano and Charlotte Birkmanis, published by IP KIDS)

Little Shark Lulu is trying very hard to go to sleeeep…

But, all around her, lots of sea life are wide awake and busily hunting, eating or playing. 

How can Lulu nod off with all that underwater fun and games?

Join her as she meets a colourful array of bedtime sea creature friends!

Mia’s Glamma

(written by Josie Montano, published by IP KIDS)

Mia’s grandma is no ordinary grandmother. 

She is a very busy grandmother who is curious, fashionable and adventurous. Mia calls her Glamma.

Glamma always has time to share her love of the world with her granddaughter Mia, so is she just like any other grandmother?

Our Australian Heart

(Anthology with various contributors, by Just Write for Kids Australia and Friends)

A special edition hard cover anthology celebrating the diversity, life and colours of Australia, as showcased by various local artists and illustrators of children’s books.

In this beautifully illustrated and lyrical anthology, our artists share their own tributes to a piece of Australia, from the sensations of glistening rocky landscapes to magical underwater reefs; the awe of our unique flora and fauna; the significance of historical memorials and childhood memories; and reflections on current cultural and environmental nuances. An inspiring, joyful and heartfelt treasure of language, art and culture for young readers and artists who can express their own response to, ‘What’s in YOUR Australian heArt?’ 

We are honoured to be sponsoring our charity of choice by donating a percentage of book sale proceeds to The Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

What does your illustration process look like? 

My process starts with a lot of sketching. I think decide on the composition, sketch out the entire spread, make a line drawing and then add colour.

 I love using my iPad (procreate). There is no set-up or clean up time and I can draw anywhere.

Although I draw digitally, everything is hand drawn and I love using the traditional pencil “brushes”, rather than fancier digital brushes.

You can read all about the process I used for creating my first book here.

Your entry, New Life at the Great Barrier Reef, was selected as one of our pieces for the Our Australian HeART anthology. We love it! What does it mean to you to be included?

It’s so wonderful to be included in a book that celebrates the diversity and vibrancy of Australia. I also love being part of a community of illustrators that are making a positive impact on the lives of Indigenous kids, with a portion of sales proceeds from ‘Our Australian Heart’ going to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Why were you inspired to create this piece? 

About 20 years ago I visited the Great Barrier Reef and found the experience absolutely amazing! One of the most memorable times from that experience was swimming with turtles, following them into the reef and out into this open expanse. When I found out about the competition I was drawn to the criteria of ‘blue’ and ‘nature’, and the Great Barrier Reef fit in so perfectly as it was the most magical experience I’ve had in Australia. It’s also an area I like to bring awareness to in terms of conservation, and something I love to draw.

In what other ways do you spread the joy of art to children?

Throughout the year, I do school and library workshops and bookstore visits where I read my books, do drawing activities and have discussions with the kids about the illustration process and the many ways that we can tell stories. It’s such a thrill to see the kids express their creativity through pictures and share their fascinating imaginations.

Thanks so much, Carla! It’s been an honour! 😊

#illustratorinterview #ouraustralianheart #littlesharkluluissleeping #miasglamma #picturebooks #justkidslit

2 thoughts to “The Art of an Illustrator: Carla Hoffenberg

  • Marg

    Loved reading about your art process and inspiration. It’s always magical to transform the blank page into something wondrous. Best Wishes, Marg Gibbs.

    • Just Write For Kids

      Thanks for your lovely comment for Carla! Your writing and illustrations are magical, too, Marg! 🙂 x


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