Artist: Basya Cohen

Painter and illustrator Basya Cohen shares her portfolio. We spoke with her about dreams, goals, and becoming an artist.


"Writing a Letter" by Basya Cohen. See her artist profile at

“Writing a Letter” by Basya Cohen


ABI:  What is your background, and how did you learn to be an artist?

BC:  My grandfather is an artist. The walls of his house are covered with his paintings. I remember being in awe of the worlds he created; the white house in the neighborhood where my mother grew up with hazy purple shadows and the dense, leafy tree across the street I could disappear into. My earliest drawing memories are of sitting side by side with my sister at the dining room table carefully copying the steps to draw a bald eagle from a How to Draw Animals step-by-step art book. When that started to feel restrictive, I began drawing from life. I stood in the driveway and drew the minivan. I sat on the front lawn and drew my house. At nine years old I knew I wanted to be an artist.


"There's Nothing Better Than a Good Book" by Basya Cohen. See her artist profile at

“There’s Nothing Better Than a Good Book” by Basya Cohen


In 5th grade, I had an exceptional teacher. Mrs. Wolford was the kind of teacher who made a ten-year-old feel like her thoughts and ideas and dreams were real and valid and could come true. She encouraged my drawing and creative writing. It was then that I decided to become an author and illustrator. Over the years, I went to various art lessons with my sister, but most were below my ability. I continued to draw and write stories on my own.


"Butterfly" by Basya Cohen. See her artist profile at

“Butterfly” by Basya Cohen


After graduating from high school, well-meaning persons urged me to drop the notion of drawing or painting professionally and pursue a more profitable career. Minding this advice but wishing to remain in the field of the arts, I took a course in graphic design and art at Manchester College in England. Soon I realized that graphic design was not my passion. Therefore, I decided to return to my childhood dream of illustrating children’s books. After completing my BA, I enrolled at the Academy of Art University as an illustration major. My skills and my knowledge improved tremendously. My artwork was accepted to the Annual Spring Show twice and I received the School of Illustration award for Best in Category. I graduated with an MFA in illustration in 2015. Now I am closer than ever to making my dream a reality.


"Clothes" by Basya Cohen. See her artist profile at

“Clothes” by Basya Cohen


ABI:  You work as an illustrator and portrait artist. What projects are you currently doing?

BC:  I am currently finishing my first commissioned picture book project! The story, called “Itchy Twitchy Andrew”, is by Ruchie Weisberg, a local author. It’s about a boy named Andrew who has sensory sensitivities. I am also working on a personal book project. It’s a story that I wrote called “Bored is Good” in which a young boy learns that boredom is the key to innovation and creativity. The story was inspired by my father who would always say “bored is good” whenever any of us kids complained about being bored. I am currently working on the book dummy, which is a mock-up of the book with rough illustrations to pitch to publishers. Lastly, I’m working on a painting to be used as a banner on SCBWI Michigan’s blog, The Mitten.


"Welcome Home" by Basya Cohen. See her artist profile at

“Welcome Home” by Basya Cohen


ABI:  What are your goals as an artist?

BC:  My immediate goals are to finish the “Itchy Twitchy Andrew” illustrations, design the layout of the book, and send it to be published. My next goal is to get my picture book “Bored is Good” published by a traditional publishing company. My long-term goals are to become a successful children’s book illustrator and author/illustrator. I want my artwork to appeal to adults as well as children to encourage reading aloud together. I wish to touch children’s hearts and minds. To inspire them and bring them joy. To make the world a better place.


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