“We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh?' asked Piglet.
Even longer,' Pooh answered.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
little jo - the art and stories of jo blakely
Well, I really hate writing bios for one, but, I do love to write. And Illustrate. And sculpt. I enjoy creating the words and pictures that celebrate multiculturalism, inspire character development, elevate social values, and break boundaries and stereotypes. I tend to create work that is appealing to all ages, and believe you can never be too old to enjoy a picture book so I also create picture books for adults.
Some of my children's illustrations have recently won awards for excellence at the Chen Bochui International Children's Illustration Exhibition and are now part of permanent collection in the Illustration Gallery in the Shanghai Folk Arts Museum, one of the 4 largest museums in China.
I love learning about other cultures and researching is half the fun of doing what I do. The more I learn about other cultures, the more I fall madly in love with them. I have now worked on 3 books that take place in Japan, so I have become a little obsessed with Japanese culture, and highly knowledgeable.
I enjoy illustrating folk and fairy tales, and working with any cultural or spiritual theme. I love drawing people of diversity, animals both anthropomorphic and realistic, beautiful costumes, and just about anything that requires research, thoughtfulness, and detail.
I have always loved to draw and write, but it wasn't until two full careers later that I found a way to combine these passions. I first studied fashion design in Paris, France finishing top of my year in design. I began as a designer and illustrator for Pierre Cardin and continued on in Canada designing high-end fashion with other major companies. Later, I became a creative director with my own company developing marketing and brand identities for a wide variety of businesses. I have also worked on both the licensee and licensor side developing merchandise for The Muppets, Biker Mice from Mars, and many others. I write and illustrate for children's books and I also have gone back to fashion design under the brand cohere+there and do fine art under the name Jo Blakely.
I love living in Toronto where the multicultural environment has played a huge role in my identity. Both my palate and palette have been influenced by the wide range of cultures I grew up with here. Having embraced the food, music, art, theatre, dance, celebrations, and stories of so many cultures throughout my life, I feel a deep connection to them all.
Contact me to illustrate your next project.
"He who is different than me does not impoverish me ― he enriches me."
Contact me to illustrate your next project
I create beautiful and detailed work, am very professional and easy to work with, and have never missed a deadline and am often early. I am located in Toronto, Canada and speak French and English fluently. I also accept commissions.
Phone: 647-999-4801 or email me
Comments from the latest two commissioned folktales I have illustrated for Heinemann Publishing:
Your final art is stunning! I love it! We appreciate the time and professionalism that you gave to this project.
(Heinemann Publishing) was delighted with your gorgeous finished art work and were in awe of the detailed fabrics that you clothed the characters in.
You've done a lovely job again with this folktale. Thanks for all your hard work! I'm impressed with how quickly you did your sketches.
Your books are going to look beautiful!
D. Cassidy, Art Buyer, Dinardo Design