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“I see everything as a work in progress” - Joseph Zoboi, illustrator

The amazingly talented artist and art educator, Joseph Zoboi, collaborated with his wife (writer Ibi Zoboi), to create the book A is for Ayti. We had a brief chat with him about his life, his creative philosophy, and his sources of inspiration.

OMB: When did you realize that you wanted to be an illustrator?

Joseph: I have always been drawing. I remember drawing Batman as a child. I ended up giving the drawing to somebody who really liked it. I think that was when I made the connection between illustrating for yourself and how others can appreciate what you do.

OMB: If you weren’t an illustrator, what other career would you aspire to?

Joseph: I am also a teaching artist. I have been teaching as an artist for the past 16 years. For a while I was a teaching artist and a set designer simultaneously. I was working seven days a week. I made the choice of teaching over set design and production. I appreciate seeing students finish projects and relate to the process in a positive way, even when the creative process was uncertain.

OMB: Describe your creative process for us.

Joseph: I see everything as a work in progress. Even after I may have framed and sold a piece, I may come back to initial sketches of it and rework the idea. What may initially have started out as a simple miniature carving, could evolve into a mixed media installation piece. I may do some research on a topic and go off on a creative tangent. I have no one set way of creating work.

OMB: Who inspires you the most? Why? Joseph: I cannot say there is a particular person that inspires me the most. The things that inspire me are the experiences and actions of, at most times, the average person (both alive and passed) who have faced and overcome personal or communal challenges. For me that is an affirmation that any one, given the right circumstances, can be inspirational.

OMB: Thank you Joseph! Joseph: Thank you.

Check out Joseph Zoboi’s artistry in our Haiti series title A is for Ayti. That book, along with all of our new titles will be available at our Haiti Series Exhibition on this Saturday, January 24th. For each ticket sold, a book will be donated to the LitWorld organization. Additionally, a portion of our proceeds will benefit Haiti Cultural Exchange, a nonprofit established to devleop, present, and promote the cultural expressions of the Haitian people. Get your tickets here: .

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