Meg Petrillo is an illustrator and author who frequently shares her artwork via social media. Meg is presently the ProjectArt Resident Teaching Artist at Glen Oaks Library where she teaches art classes while she works on a comic and a children’s picture book. A bird lover, many of Meg’s artworks contain characters with feathers. Her work has been exhibited at two galleries, five zines, and three conventions.

Meg recently granted an exclusive interview where she discussed her artwork, her goals for the future, and more.

Art, children's books, and comics

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you initially get interested in art and when did you start writing comics and children’s books as well?

Meg Petrillo (MP): I think what really got me interested in art was watching cartoons as a kid. I was a fan of The Lion King, The Powerpuff Girls, Pokemon, Spongebob, Dexter’s Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Ed, Edd, n Eddy, Teen Titans, and many others. I was in elementary school when I started drawing stories and had my first comic published in an anthology when I was graduating high school.

The comic wasn’t great- I was just lucky! I’m still figuring out how to make my comics better. I was formally trained to write comics and picture books about five years ago.

MM: What is your comic and children’s book about and what inspired them?

MP: My comic is about a pigeon who wants to learn how to read, and my children’s book is about two pet birds breaking out of their house and exploring the great outdoors.

MM: You feature birds in your work pretty frequently, so what is it about these feathered creatures that most interests you?

MP: They’re cute, and they’re smart; good qualities for anyone! When I was a kid, I lived with a type of small parrot called a cockatiel.

MM: What are the biggest differences between creating a comic and a children’s book?

MP: Many books are a combination of both. Children’s books are a genre, and comics are a medium.

So, any comic book that’s for children is both a comic and a children’s book. Most children’s books are picture books with one illustration per page or per spread. There are also some picture books that are not children’s books! Comics are available for every age, but most comics are for the “young adult” age group. Creating comics takes an extra step of “thumbnailing” where the illustrator decides where each panel lands on the page. They are less likely to be bound by a page limit.

Libraries, classes, and ProjectArt

MM: You are currently a ProjectArt Resident Teaching Artist at Glen Oaks Library, so how did you hear about ProjectArt and how did you land in Glen Oaks?

MP: I was already working in Glen Oaks as a library page when one of my coworkers told me about the residency. The application process allowed me to choose which libraries were more convenient for me.

MM: What is it like to work at the library and what sorts of art classes do you teach there?

MP: My library is loads of fun to work at. Working at the library is about serving the public. I work there as a Library Page. Library pages put books back on their shelves once returned by patrons. They also help process books that arrive from other libraries, set up in the morning, and clean up after the patrons leave.

My other job at the library is being a resident teaching artist through a nonprofit called ProjectArt. ProjectArt hosts teaching artists to do studio practices in the library and teach art classes that run for a whole school year. The classes are meant to introduce the fundamentals of art to students who may have their art education compromised in schools.

MM: You are interested in maybe becoming a librarian one day, so how did you decide on that career path?

MP: During the year I’ve been working at Queens Library, I got to know some great librarians and library staff. What they do is very admirable- they help people get the information and enrichment they need.

This could be as important as immigration documents, or job applications. Librarians also run helpful programs like health insurance information sessions and live musical performances. All age groups use the library, but especially kids in school and retirees. I want to help people too, so I’m studying Library and Information Science.

MM: So, Meh, overall, what are your biggest goals for the future and is there anything more that you want to mention?

MP: When I become a librarian, I would really like to teach art classes again in a library setting- to any age group that wants to learn. I also want to help people become computer-literate.

Thank you for interviewing me! I also want to thank ProjectArt for selecting me as a resident artist so that I could meet many wonderful people around my library, like you, Meagan.

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