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Art & Life with Terri Murphy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Terri Murphy.

Terri, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I was a very curious child, but also shy and solitary. Part of my shyness came from not knowing the English language, as my parents were newly arrived Polish immigrants. I would spend a lot of my time with my favorite toy, a second-hand pair of binoculars, studying nature, objects, and people in my neighborhood. Some of these studies would turn into drawings, or tiny sculptures from a confiscated hunk of my mother’s noodle dough. I found a companion in art and the companion was me! Nurturing the ability to graphically translate what I observed set the course of my development as an artist.

Later, I studied illustration and design at The American Academy of Art in Chicago. After a short stint in graphic design, I became enamored with children’s picture books during bedtime readings with my young sons. I’d pore over the books after the boys were asleep and think, “I could do this.” And so it began.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
Children’s picture book illustration is narrative by nature, and my goal is to tell a visual story and have an emotional exchange with the viewer. I want to keep you on the page, make you laugh, or think, or join in on the silly, or wonder what will happen next. With a couple of illustrated picture books under my belt, I decided to kick the can up the road and venture into writing and illustrating my own picture book.

One day, I was sitting in my studio and a thought came to me. What if there were children being born into the world that were hyper-aware to the big picture of this existence, and each person’s reason for being? They are born knowing all of the ills and glories of society, and still are able to stay pure in heart. In the world, but not of the world, as the saying goes. Geographically diverse, yet they somehow are all connected and aware of the connection. As I sketched the series, phrases would come to me until one fit the picture perfectly and would get incorporated into the art. It’s not necessarily a story with a beginning, middle and end, but more of a “Child’s Guide to the Universe.” I don’t know if any of it fits within the boundaries of a picture book, but I’m compelled to continue, and figure out the commercial possibilities later.

On the more traditional side, I have two manuscripts & dummies out to a couple of agents.

Because I’m always looking to discover new ways of visual communication, I developed another style of illustration that uses an inking process. It gives a rougher, bolder look and I’ll choose one style or the other depending on the emotional tone of the story or concept.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what quality do you feel is most helpful?
I believe that everyone is a born creator. You are a successful artist if you bulldoze through the self-doubt, the inner critic that wants you to give up right in the middle of a piece, the advice of not-so-well-wishers about job prospects. That’s it. Honor your creative spirit! Every artist I know does what they do because they need to. We find a way to make it work. We juggle, sacrifice, have eggs in many baskets. We always find the time.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Thank you for your interest in my art! I would love for people to visit my website,, and check out more images in the series I mentioned earlier, as well as other illustrations. A short demo video of my inking style is shown here: . And of course, I would love to connect on social media!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos and artwork credit to Terri Murphy

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