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Illustrating Alaska: Artists Making Children's Books

About This Exhibition

Illustrating Alaska Exhibit Booklet
Click to open exhibit booklet. [PDF, 16MB]

Illustrating Alaska: Artists Making Children’s Books explores the colorful and intriguing process of illustrating children’s books. The exhibit, curated by Sarah Asper-Smith, highlights the process of four different Alaskan illustrators: Jim Fowler, Evon Zerbetz, Michaela Goade, and Mitchell Watley. Each has a unique perspective on creating illustrations for a children’s book.

The various sections of the exhibit show the milestones in the process of making a 32-page children’s book.  The four artists come alive in the exhibit via video, answering questions sometimes posed by kids (“How do you do that? How old are you? How long does it take?”) as well as more conceptual questions (“How do artists deal with drawing the same animals over and over again?”) Visitors will also encounter what different artist studios feel like and are welcome to work on their own sketches in the gallery. 

Illustrating Alaska is presented by ExhibitAK and the Alaska State Museum, with support from: the Alaska State Libraries, Friends of the Alaska State Library, Archives, and Museum; Alaska Litho; Sealaska Heritage Institute - Baby Raven Reads program; Alaska Robotics; Lucid Reverie; Rainy Retreat bookshop; and Hearthside Books. 


Jim Fowler is a Juneau-based plein air (outdoor) landscape painter who begins with sketches, then paints his illustrations in acrylic after storyboarding the images. He has illustrated fourteen books for children including the Christopher Award-winning I’ll See You When The Moon Is Full.

Evon Zerbetz began working in printmaking over 20 years ago.  She prefers carving tools to pencils and carves into linoleum to create lino-cuts; after carving the image, she inks the plates and prints her work by hand. She has illustrated ten children’s picture books, including Ten Rowdy Ravens.  Zerbetz received a 2005 Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award and currently lives in Ketchikan.

Michaela Goade, whose Tlingit name is Sheit.een, sketches and paints in watercolor, and then adds digital finishing touches.  Now living is Sitka, she grew up in Juneau and is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal for best picture-book story, We Are Water Protectors

Mitch Watley creates his illustrations in his studio up a flight of 100 stairs, by sketching in pencil first, then coloring in those sketches digitally on the computer.  He has illustrated two children’s books written by his wife, Sarah Asper-Smith, I Would Tuck You In and You are Home With Me.






  1. Entrance into the gallery showcasing book covers
  2. Gallery 2
  3. Gallery 3
  4. The entrance labels
  5. “The Text” section of the exhibit.
  6. The Text label & illustrations by Jim Fowler
  7. Illustrations by Jim Fowler
  8. A build-out replica of Jim Fowler’s studio
  9. Showcasing Evon Zerbetz’ illustrations and studio.
  10. The Sketches label & illustrations: Evon Zerbetz
  11. Illustrations by Evon Zerbetz
  12. Illustrations by Evon Zerbetz
  13. A build-out replica of Evon Zerbetz’ studio
  14. Showcasing Mitch Watley’s illustrations and studio
  15. The Finals label & illustrations by Mitch Watley
  16. A build-out replica of Mitch Watley’s studio
  17. “The Book” section showcasing Michaela Goade
  18. The Book label & illustrations by Michaela Goade
  19. Illustrations by Michaela Goade
  20. A build-out replica of Michaela Goade's studio
  21. Photograph of the Final exhibit labels
  22. Gallery View

Educational Activity

Traveling Exhibit

Museums can borrow Illustrating Alaska through the Traveling Exhibits program.

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