New Year's Resolutions for Authors and Illustrators to Try in 2020

By Naseem Hrab

Naseem Hrab PechaKucha

I looove coming up with new year’s resolutions. There’s nothing like the reset button of a new year to help you recommit to your creative aspirations!

Personally, I’d love to complete three picture books, write every night (even if it’s just one sentence) and learn to think in pictures more/learn how to (barely) draw. I feel so accomplished just thinking about it all! (If only writing it out on a public forum was all it took!)

For this column, I asked eight authors and illustrators to share their 2020 artistic resolutions. Their goals run the gamut of reading more to unlearning what they’ve learned over the years to self-care. Hopefully, their creative goals will inspire yours!

Carey Sookocheff

Carey Sookocheff

1)         Take care of my body. Being hunched over my drawing table has led to pain and knots in my neck and shoulders. I’m going to read Draw Stronger: Self-Care For Cartoonists and Other Visual Artists by Kriota Willberg and hopefully establish a healthier way to work. 

2)         Draw more for fun. This year I plan on giving myself more time to experiment and be creative without a plan or project in mind. I’m hoping that giving myself that freedom will lead to more creative ideas, more drawing practice and more joy.

3)         Drink more water. And most importantly I’m going to try really hard not to mistake my paint brush water for my water glass.


Carmen Mok

Carmen Mok

My 2020 resolution for my art is to unlearn the very fine drawing skills that I learned in the past, and to develop more texture and a looser style. In order to make this happen, I am planning to explore some dry mediums such as pastel and crayons. I will try to use my fingers as one of my tools, or to paint with my non-dominant hand which is my left hand.


Mahtab Narsimhan

Mahtab Narsimhan

Keyword for 2020: Focus 

1)         Focus on the journey and enjoy the creative process without worrying about the end result. 

2)         Focus on how far I've already come rather than how much further I need to go. 

3)         Focus on activities which bring me happiness: Less social media and a lot more reading!


Milan Pavlović

Milan Pavlović

1)         To illustrate a subtle, tender and poetic story in 2020.

2)         To include more experiments and versatile rendering in my work from process to final illustrations.

3)         To bridge the gap between my personal and professional work.

4)         To read all the books I was planning to read in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

5)         To set up a new personal website.

6)         To climb on top of mountain in southern Serbia and sit there in silence.


Nahid Kazemi

Nahid Kazemi

In 2020, I am waiting for four books to be released from two great publishers, Enchanted Lion Books and Groundwood Books. I’m also supposed to complete two new picture book projects. I hope to develop some of my own ideas for books and animation as well. I would like to complete my new painting collection, too. There is much work to be done!


Vikki VanSickle

Vikki VanSickle

My writing resolution is actually a reading resolution. This year I'm going to read more widely, sampling genres and authors outside my regular purview. I believe that writing is enriched and informed by what you read, and I'd love to deepen my understanding of language, story, and structure.


Soyeon Kim

Soyeon Kim

1)         For 2020, I want to showcase ALL of my dioramas that I have created for my children’s picture books (if you know or have space, please do let me know! I am taking all of recommendations and suggestions!). There are about 30-35 dioramas in total, some stored in my storage, some in my family’s basement and some in my room. Hopefully, if they get lucky, I hope to send them off to lovely homes where they will get more love!

2)         I also want to make sure that I have more playtime with art. Trying different mediums, creating on different surfaces, and working with different dimensions, I hope to be an art-scientist in 2020!


Frieda Wishinsky

Frieda Wishinsky

1)         Continue to write the stories that I am passionate about.

2)         Read and notice why a story works.

3)         Mentor others. (I learn each time I edit someone else’s book.)

4)         Pay attention ‘cause stories are everywhere.

5)         Enjoy the process because that is the joy that lasts.




Carey Sookocheff is an illustrator and picture book author. Her books include Solutions For Cold Feet and Other Little Problems and Wet. She has also illustrated the Buddy and Earl series of books. She currently teaches in the Bachelor of Illustration program at Sheridan College. / Instagram: @csookocheff

Carmen Mok is an award-winning children’s book illustrator. After studying studio art University of Waterloo and design at Sheridan College, she decided to dedicate herself to children’s illustration. She is the illustrator of Violet Shrink, written by Christine Baldacchino and A Stopwatch from Grampa, written by Loretta Garbutt. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time in libraries and bookstores; she also likes hiking, knitting or meeting up with friends. / Instagram: @carmenmokstudio

Mahtab Narsimhan is an award-winning author with numerous critically acclaimed books, nominated for several awards, including The Third Eye which won the Silver Birch Fiction Award in 2009. She is inspired by the desire to make sense of the world through stories and is deeply committed to representing diversity in her books. / Instagram: @mahtab_narsimhan

Milan Pavlović was born in Serbia, where, after studies in Applied Arts and Book Design, he obtained a master's degree in illustration. Milan started his career as children's book illustrator and comic artist, publishing his work in many European countries before he moved to Toronto in 2010. He is the illustrator of several children's books in Canada, including The Boy Who Invented the Popsicle (Kids Can Press). Today, except illustrating, he shares his passion and knowledge with students at OCAD University and Seneca College teaching children's illustration and drawing. Instagram: @milan_pavlovic_illustrator

Nahid Kazemi is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer with a master’s degree in painting from Tehran’s University of Art. She has published more than sixty children’s books and has received awards for her illustrations in Iran as well as nominations for the Governor General’s Award and the 2020 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Her recent publications include I’m Glad That You’re Happy, which she wrote and illustrated, and Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon by JonArno Lawson. She has also taught art and has exhibited her work in Iran, France, Italy, the UK, Lebanon and Serbia. / Instagram: @visualpoemssss

Vikki VanSickle is the author of a number of books for children, including the 2018 Red Maple Award Winner The Winnowing. Her next picture book Teddy Bear of the Year, about a teddy bear who learns the impact of small acts of kindness, is coming out in 2020 from Tundra Books. Instagram: @vikkivansickle

Soyeon Kim is a Korean-born artist and educator currently living in Toronto. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts and Bachelor of Education from York University. She has participated in artist residencies at The Hermitage (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Spark Box Studios (Picton, Ontario). As a children’s picture book illustrator, she has published: You Are Stardust, Wild Ideas, Is This Panama? Sukaq and the Raven, and You Are Never Alone. Upcoming 2020 titles also include: A Last Goodbye and Once Upon an Hour. She has participated in TD Book Week 2018, visiting schools and libraries in Northern British Columbia. In 2017, she was invited to the Adelaide Writers’ Week (Australia) for the Kids’ Weekend, where she collaborated with kids and families to create a collaborative mural based on You Are Stardust. She is also a recipient of Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award. / Instagram: @soyeonis

Frieda Wishinsky is the international award winning author of over 70 books. Her newest books are: Alfie No! (Scholastic), How Emily Saved the Bridge (Groundwood) and How to Become an Accidental Genius with Elizabeth Macleod (Orca).

The views expressed by Open Book columnists are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Naseem Hrab is the author of the picture books Ira Crumb Makes a Pretty Good Friend and Ira Crumb Feels the Feelings, illustrated by Josh Holinaty. Her comedy writing has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Rumpus. Sometimes Naseem likes to get up on a stage and tell true stories. She loves improv and coffee ice cream.

She worked as a librarian for a time and currently works in children's publishing.