Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators


Sierra Burns

After nearly a decade as a TV news producer in NC and Pittsburgh, I decided it was time to retire from the newsroom and redirect my energy toward a new career in illustration.
My artwork as a children’s book illustrator spans the spectrum from make believe creatures to historical figures we all know and love. I don't believe an artist should be confined to one style of work. My experience in traditional visual art, including graphite realism, acrylic and oil pastel paintings, has helped me develop my technical skills to better create illustrations that best suit the storylines for a younger audience.
Whether it’s a portrait of my grandmother or a still-life painting in a complementary color scheme, details are my top priority. Every illustration has at least a hint of realism through its composition, highlights and shadows to bring the characters and their setting to life.   
Many of my digital and watercolor illustrations are designed for children's books and are meant to be viewed as parts of a whole. I want children of all reading levels to be able to understand the story through the illustrations, even if they can't read the text yet. That is why I put a lot of attention into the expressions of the characters, their movements on each page and how the color palette helps set the mood. My goal is to create memorable characters to whom children can relate and will want to revisit time and again. 
Textures are an important feature in my digital designs, and I draw inspiration from my surroundings. My young daughters are also a major influence on my design choices. I study their reactions to certain illustrations- what they're drawn to and which details are most memorable- and I try to incorporate those into my own designs. From fabrics to animal fur and wood floors, I find that those extra details add another layer of dimension to my work.
In addition, the story's subject matter can dictate my direction when it comes to illustrating. Some topics lend themselves to soft watercolor, others to vivid, dynamic digital designs. I enjoy the challenge of creating new characters with varying traits and styles. An illustrator’s worst nightmare is falling into the “same face” trap. That is why I strive for characters with a variety of features but, all with the same cohesive use of textures, details and expressiveness. 


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15236
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  • Portrait
  • Nature
  • Fantasy/Science Fiction
  • Children
  • Book


  • Animals
  • Cartoons
  • Children
  • Digital Paint
  • Books
  • Holiday
  • Pittsburgh
  • Religious