I was born in Eugene, Oregon in the shadow of some very big and beautiful trees. I studied puppetry and children’s book illustration at Evergreen State College and moved to Brooklyn, NY shortly thereafter.
Most of my 20’s were spent in New York, working as a Christmas elf, a cupcake froster, a batik shirt maker, a painting assistant for a large scale painted backdrop company, and a postcard painter on the streets of Manhattan. All while trying to break into the world of children's book publishing (and eating lots of questionable street cart food). I landed my first children’s book deal in 2007. It really did feel like the music swelling movie scene I’d always imagined it to be, complete with slow motion high fiving and general chicken-dance freaking out.
Luckily enough, I’m now a full-time author and illustrator. It’s the best job in the world and one that I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Not only do I get paid to make a mess and make up stories but I now have a perfectly reasonable excuse for staring off into space for long minutes.
These days I live in Portland, Oregon with one super husband, two young kiddos, and two shockingly soft and fuzzy kitties.
Check out this PBS segment about Johanna and her creative process on the Emmy award winning Oregon Art Beat on OPB.