My name is Esther Szegedy and I'm a professional children's book illustrator and aspiring author.

I started drawing non-stop at age 7. It was the only way I knew to stop getting picked on every day. That's because I was the only kid in my class then who didn't speak a word of English. I was the official "scapegoat", but if I drew for the other kids, I'd get some respect. (I'm still drawing non-stop these days, but for the pleasure of being an artist).

By age 10, I was writing and illustrating 40 page books and reading them to my classmates: mostly about Princesses that lived in the forest with hedgehogs, wolves, rabbits and occasionally a fairy or two. (Many, many years later I'm still writing children's books, including one about "The Princess of Pout"- so the princess theme hasn't entirely gone by the wayside.)

At age 19 I went to university in Toronto to pursue art, but left after a year or so, and then opened the first of three stores ("Why Not?", followed by "Last Mango In Paris" and "Dervish") which I ran for 13 years. I did everything from designing album covers, then CD covers, greeting cards, book illustrations and hand painted clothing for kids and adults. In my 11th year I returned to school in Cambridge, Mass., to get my B.A. and Masters in Expressive Therapies, becoming a psychotherapist working with art, writing, movement, music and theater to intern in Boston.

I moved to New Mexico next , and lived in Santa Fe and later Abiquiu (Georgia Okeefe's summertime home), and worked with mostly Navajo and Hopi Indians, in a psychiatric hospital, and later with troubled teens, mostly Indian and Hispanic.

Deciding to fulfill a dream since age 5 to live on a tropical island with volcanoes, where I could be outside all year long- I then moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I worked as a children's book illustrator for the next 9 years, and also acquired experience in educational publishing. I started writing as well as illustrating, and began learning the long, tough and exciting process of telling stories as an author. Story telling in any form is still a passion.

Stories have been a fascination since my grandfather started reading stories to me from around the world -stories from China, Russia, Japan, Turkey, Arabia, Scandinavia and all of Europe. That early education sparked my love of storytelling and fuelled my imagination. Now I view stories as both delighting and educating readers, whether they are about ill intentioned dragons or real people that accomplished amazing things.

I draw everything from real animals -dogs, cats and coyotes, for instance, to imagined creatures such as phoenixes, gargoyles, witches, and an occasional unicorn. I also illustrate for other authors. Lastly, my artwork can be seen in several galleries on the Big Island- and it all tells a story.


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