Defend Puerto Rico! Multimedia Project

DEFEND PUERTO RICO - Trailer from Mikey Cordero on Vimeo.


Defend PR is a multimedia project designed to document and celebrate Puerto Rican creativity, resilience, and resistance. Recognizing the complex and dynamic landscapes that comprise Puerto Rican daily life and struggle, Defend PR seeks to deepen connections between Puerto Ricans on the island and throughout the diaspora, in the hopes of nurturing greater solidarity, collaboration, and kinship.
Defend PR will use its interactive, multi-media platform to amplify the voices of everyday Puerto Ricans working to build a new Puerto Rico where its land, people, and culture flourish. By using a people-centered approach to storytelling and the dissemination of personal and community narratives, Defend PR hopes to capture the remarkable resilience and creativity of the Puerto Rican people as they navigate the current economic and fiscal crisis. Defend PR will share stories of resistance and renewal in all areas of Puerto Rican society and cultural life, highlighting everything from agriculture and cultural production, to grassroots political mobilization and global solidarity networks.
Defend PR’s core team consists of Puerto Rican artists, social entrepreneurs, media producers, and changemakers who will use the Defend PR platform to cultivate meaningful dialogue about the social issues and struggles affecting Puerto Ricans on the island, and create a reliable information hub for others interested in learning about and supporting Puerto Ricans working for social transformation. Puerto Rico’s on-going struggle for greater autonomy, representation, and sustainability is the struggle of everyday people to dream and create freely. Defend PR hopes to use its platform to create content of, by, and for the Puerto Rican people, in hopes that these dreams will prosper.


Prodigy RIP

Rest in peace
A quick one for brother Prodigy, if you're not familiar w/ his words look him up and listen. Show love for those artists and artisans who you have with you before they pass.


Code Switch - War on Chinese restaurants

This is a really dope short article. It is a perfect example of how Racism works and how racism is prejudice and power.

Character 119 - Diamond Reynolds

This is Diamond Reynolds and her daughter, the partner of Philando Castile and the woman who filmed his murder by a Minnesota Police officer. Rest in piece brother Philando, a traffic stop should not have resulted in your murder. Bless Ms Reynolds and her daughter who should have not had to witness what they did. For the nay sayers on police brutality, this is not an isolated incident. It's not because he did not follow the law. It is because America as a continent is terrified of Black people and feels our lives are less than. Terrorism is not just abroad, it is right here in the US in Black communities. If you are outraged, get involved. Organize with folks who are invested in dismantling the system. For young creatives and artists, if you have the spirit to, speak on injustice in your work.


One of a kind, like me 7 - Latinxs in kid lit/ At home librarian

More reviews for One of a kind, like me"

Latinxs in Kid Lit 

is a book blog hat focusing on Latinx centered stories and bilingual books. Please check them out, they have YA, Middle grade, and picture books there. And this is the fourth or fifth time I've gotten to be featured in some way on their blog. Love them! Subscribe to their blog.

At Home librarian 
is an awesome blog run by one mom who is passionate about books in general and very passionate about diverse books coming from a lot of different backgrounds. Please check out her review and all the other books she talks about.

For those of you new to the book, One of a kind like me is a picture book written by Laurin Mayeno and illustrated by me Robert Liu-Trujillo. Here is the synopsis of the story: Tomorrow is the school parade, and Danny knows exactly what he will be: a princess. Mommy supports him 100%, and they race to the thrift store to find his costume. It’s almost closing time. Will Danny find the costume of his dreams in time? One of A Kind, Like Me / Unico como yo is a sweet story about unconditional love and the beauty of individuality. It’s a unique book that lifts up children who don’t fit gender stereotypes, and reflects the power of a loving and supportive community. The book is written by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo, and translated by Teresa Mlawer.

And you can purchase it here at Blood Orange Press


Furqan's First Flat Top - For fathers day!

For all the fathers out there this is a book for you and its about a relationship between father and son. If you could please share this trailer with your local librarian or professional who had an office with a waiting room.

You can purchase the book here


Kindred Journey 26 - Amerie

Amerie (Amerie Rogers) is an artist from Washington DC. Born in 1980 and raised all over the US and she first came into most folks conscious with a song called "Why don't we fall in love". Some people found her sound with her hit "1 Thing". After falling in love with her voice and her first few songs, I immediately wondered if she was both Black and Asian. And to my delight she was African American and Korean! Amerie is an incredible musician whose voice and style adapts, changes, and progresses. As a musician she has released 5 studio albums and collaborated with countless artists. But most recently she has also shown a love for books, reviewing them and talking about them on Youtube. Not only that, she has recently edited an anthology of heavy hitters and new comers in the literary world. Still working, you can find her giving tutorials on make up, style, and releasing new music. 

Sources: Amerie.com, Wikipedia, Youtube

You can purchase this original piece $40 (includes shipping) by emailing me at info@robdontstop.com


One of a kind, like me 6 - Boston Public + Teachers for Change

"One of a kind, like me" the book I illustrated for author Laurin Mayeno was featured in the Boston Public Library's "2017 We are Pride" booklist for children's literature. Check it out and look at some of the other books on the lists.

The book was also featured on "Teaching for Social Change" list of books for activism. Check it out here We got featured alongside Zetta Elliott, Innosanto Nagara, Laura Atkins, Stan Yogi, Yutaka Haulette, Miriam Klein Stahl & Kate Schatz, John Jennings, and more!

If you still haven't gotten the book, you can purchase it here.


Website update

Please go check it out LINK

Inspiration board 27

Inspiration board! Here are some recent people, places, things, that inspire me. Top to bottom, left to right: Ymtk (musician)-Undivided, Cake walk illustration-Jose Luis Agreda, Motown book-history of Motown, Get Out-incredible film( horror/race), Roaring Softly-Tyler Feder print, Blasian Narratives-incredible docu-theater performance, Siaira Shawn(musician)-Lost, Hawk House-UK hip hop group, Demae Chioma Wodu- (musician) 1/3 of Hawk House, How to Find a Fox-Nilah Magruder, Bros N' Books-Book club, Sharon Sordo-illustration, Pref ID-Graf, Art Street-art show in Sacramento by M5Arts, Spike Trotman- indy publisher of Iron Spike, and this book about the Chicago Defender.


Kindred Journey 25 - Yuji Ichioka

Yuji is a pioneer in the field of ethnic studies. We both graduated from Berkeley High School and I was one of the students who benefitted from taking ethnic studies classes about both African American and Raza studies departments. Yuji was born in 1936 in San Francisco California. He and his family were imprisoned during WW2. Yuji joined the army and studied at Columbia University and UC Berkeley. He is the first person to use the term "Asian American" and was involved in the late 60's in the third world strike protests at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State where there would later be the first college with an ethnic studies program. He was also instrumental in founding the Asian American studies center at UCLA which he co-founded withVicci Wong. He authored books (A Buried Past) , volunteered in his community, and helped to push forward and found the modern conversation on ethnic studies which is basically reviving stories about people of color that have been lost, looked over, omitted, and or erased. One of the most powerful things about an Asian American department or term besides educating other people who don't know, is uniting Asians from different countries and backgrounds and that unity is why I titled this series "Kindred Journey". Yuji passed away in 2002.

Sources: SF Gate, LA Times, Asian American Activism Tumblr

You can purchase this original illustration $40 (includes shipping within the U.S.) by emailing me at info@robdontstop.com (a portion will be donated to the Yuji Ichioka Endowed Chair in Social Justice Studies, c/o UCLA Asian American Studies Center)

Kindred Journey 24 - Troop 12

Troop 12 is the first Japanese and Asian American boy scout troop founded in the United States. It is also one of the oldest. It was founded in 1915 through the work of Masunobu Morisuye. The troop was comprised of American born Japanese or Nisei. The group practiced wilderness and outdoor activities such as swimming, camping, etc. They also learned first aid and volunteered in the Japanese community in San Francisco where they were founded. The group was founded because they could not become a part of existing Boy Scout troops or were not welcomed into white troops. They completed all the requirements to become recognized and became a troop anyway though. The group recently celebrated their 100th year anniversary which has seen struggle during the imprisonment of Japanese during World War 2, finding sponsors to keep the group going, and maintaining a club for kids to learn for over 100 years. In addition to all of the outdoor activities and volunteer work the club scouts are often given the chance to travel to other states and the troop has even been to Japan to learn more about their culture. And the hat the trooper wears is in reaction to a member being teased by another troop. When Troop 12 heard about this, they all bought white hats and wore them together in solidarity.

Sources: History of Boy Scout Troop 12 (youtube), Japanese Immigration hearings

You can purchase this original illustration $40 (includes shipping within the U.S.) email info@robdontstop.com


Kindred Journey 23 - Margaret Cho

Born in San Francisco in 1968, Margaret Cho is one of the greatest comedians to do it. She has written books, starred in plays, shows, and films, recorded music, and done some amazing comedic performances. One of the things I admire about her is her ability to merge political and hilarious. Margaret started performing as a teen. She went on to be one of the first if not the first Asian American lead in an Asian American specific Tv show called "All American Girl". She had a broadway show called "I am the one I want". She has toured all over the world performing stand up, and she has been nominated for many awards like the Grammy's, Emmy's, and she has won awards from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). Beyond doing comedy Margaret has been an advocate for LGbtq rights, she has stood up against bullying, and has lead commentary to political issues. She is still performing and inspiring today.

Sources: MargaretCho.com, The Rubin Report, Broadly

You can purchase this original piece $40 (includes shipping) email info@robdontstop.com

Kindred Journey 22 - Mountain Brothers

Mountain Brothers are a hip hop group from Philadelphia with members Styles, Peril-L, and Chops. Besides Key Kool & Rhetmattic, Mountain Brothers were some of the only Asian American cats rhyming and putting out records. Coming from the Bay you see lots of writers, B-boys, and DJs, but very few MCs. That all changed when I saw this trio from Philly. Their first album "Self: Volume 1" came out in 1999, and their second and last album came out in 2003. They also had an EP titled Microphone Phenomenal. MB were pioneers for Asian Americans in hop hop and although Peril-L and Styles are pursuing medicine and science Chops still continues to make music. In fact the group united for a song on a Chops record in 2013 along with cats like Dumbfounded, Bambu, Rocky Rivera, Geo of Blue Scholars, Neil Armstrong, DJ Roli Rohl, and more. The guys are Chinese Taiwanese and simply by making great music and being themselves they have made history and given young Asian American artists role models. Galaxies!!!

Sources: Wikipedia, TaiwaneseAmerican.org,

You can purchase this original piece $40 (includes shipping) , email info@robdontstop.com


Kindred Journey 21 - Mary "Butchie" Tom

Mary was born in Phoenix Arizona from Chinese immigrant parents. She came from a family who worked in and owned grocery stores in Arizona as many immigrants owned and worked in stores. Frustrated with the racism she experienced in Phoenix and her choices for work she took a bus to San China Town in Francisco. She first started working as a housekeeper cleaning when she got there and around 1940 she heard about a job opportunity to be a dancer in a Chinese owned nightclub to be opened called "Forbidden City" (the first Chinese owned nightclub) after the city of the same name in Beijing. She started out learning to dance using choreography and became one of many prominent dancers in the Chinese nightlife scene which was visited by all types of people during the start of World War 2. Mary married and moved back to Arizona where she continued to dance; square dancing!

Sources: Oral history-Chinese history of Arizona, Classic ladies of color

You can purchase this original painting 8" x 8" $40 (includes shipping) Email at info@robdontstop.com


Kindred Journey 20 Vicki Manalo Draves

Vicki Manalo Draves was born in 1924 in San Francisco California to a Filipino father and English mother who met in the city. She grew up in the south of market area now known as Soma. She began diving at the age of 16. She tired to begin training at SF's Fairmont hotel and wanted to compete but was discriminated against because of her Filipino heritage. She had to change her name to her mothers maiden name in order to to enter competitions. It was said by her friends and teammates that the discrimination she faced lit a fire under her and when she made it to the olympic games in 1948, she was the first American woman to win two gold medals in platform and springboard diving. Vicki continued to swim for many years, got married and had several children. Today there is a park in San Francisco named after her and when she passed away there were many news publications that honored her. She even has a biopic film in the works about her life's story.

Sources: Kickstarter (Save our Story), NBC, Wikipedia, Olympics

Purchase: You can buy this original painting $40 (includes shipping). Email me at info@robdontstop.com

Zombi Kid campaign

Support this dope project, el Zombi Kid!!! 

Who: 656 Comics! 

Where: Ciudad Juarez, Mexico > The world 

What: An incredible new graphic novel (in spanish) about loss of loved ones, bringing them back from the after life, etc by an experienced crew of illustrators, writers, and designers who’ve brought over 10 comics to life and continue to be a creative force in their city on the border of Mexico and the U.S. Middle grade

Why: Because we need to read more incredible spanish sci-fi/fantasy/horror/funny comics. 

When: Their campaign ends in 56 days (posted May 10th, 2017) 

How: Sharing, sharing and more sharing

If you'll recall I visited 656 Comics a few years back to talk about art making and have worked with them in the past as a contributor to one of many comics they've produced. Check out this old video where they talk about who they make comics for.


Kindred Journey 19 - Tyrus Wong

Tyrus Wong was born in 1910 in Taishan China. He migrated to United States, specifically Angel Island in the Bay Area between San Francisco and the East Bay. He endured interrogation and detention because of the US policy called the Chinese exclusion act.  After his release and reuniting with his father he moved to Los Angeles. He loved to draw and paint as a child and attended Otis college as a fine artist. From the 1930s until the 1960s Tyrus worked in animation at Disney Animation studios and later at Warner Brothers. While working as in in between animator at Disney his incredible landscape paintings where discovered by Walt Disney and his painting style laid the foundation for the landmark film Bambi. Because of racism his work was not lauded or celebrated by the studios however, and Tyrus did not get his just due until he was in his 70's and 80s. Through his artistic career he not only painted beautiful landscapes. But he also painted Chinese calligraphy, greeting cards, ceramics, and built kites. Tyrus passed away in December of last year. He is survived by three daughters and two grand children.

Sources: NY Times, CAAM, CBS Sunday Morning

Purchase: $40 (includes shipping) To purchase this original painting, please email me at info@robdontstop.com


Freelance Chronicles 3 - Tech I Use

(Photo: Me by Joy Liu-Trujillo)

When I first started out as an illustrator I was using tech but didn't quite understand how I was using it. Even a brush that you buy in a store was high technology at one point. Now, I use tech everyday as an illustrator to make my business run efficiently. Here are some of the things I use. Some are free, some cost, but all are worth it in my opinion. These are mostly about the business side of things. If you're an artist, what do you use to make your business run? Leave a comment and share if this helped you out in any way.

(Scene from Dead Presidents)

Getting paid:

Cash board: 
I just started using this company's invoicing service and I have my wife to thank for the referral. It is great! I was using Microsoft Word for the past 6-7 years and I love the features on Cash board. For those unaware, when you are selling a product like a book (large quantity) or your services as an artist you need to put it in writing. That writing is an invoice! The invoice states what you're doing, for whom, when it will begin and end, how much you will be paid, and when they need to pay you. You also want to put down your policy on revisions, rush fees, delivery of artwork, etc. This app is helpful because it allows me to do all of that and to keep track of who I've invoiced, if they've opened it, and it send them a reminder to pay me weekly until they pay. You can also keep a running list of clients to plug in when making a new invoice and you can duplicate previous invoices for a similar job or client. You can also plug in a discount, send people an estimate. its awesome.

Credit Union:
I use a credit union for my personal account because I'm tired of the huge banks using their money to poison folks. I still have some other accounts with the blood suckers, but the majority of my everyday business is run through a credit union. The feature that I love most about many credit unions (and banks) is that I can take a picture of a check from a client and deposit it without having to go to the bank!

Square is a great way to get paid and I carry a square reader with me everywhere I go. People always say at festivals, book events, or on the street that they would love to buy a piece of art or a book but don't have cash. And after missing enough opportunities I got one (reader is free). Now, every time I see someone I can charge them at a restaurant, a game, a flea market, festival, wherever. Square takes a small cut, but the convenience and product interface is very easy to use.

(Steven Yeun)

Get the word out:
Ok, so most of you already are using social media. These are some of the ones I use.

Twitter is like the pulse of the people, cultivating a community, making lists, and keeping up with the news, creatives, and thinkers. You can take a poll of a question or art piece, you can make a list of your favorite illustrators, perspective clients, donut shops, etc.

Facebook + Messenger:
I know some people hate Facebook and left years ago, and I know many use it everyday. For me, it is a tool to make small groups of people with a specific interest like animation, children's books, or DJing. The messenger app is what allows you to send messages to people on Facebook or chat without scrolling and getting lost.

IG is a ix of gallery and personal life for me. I use it to post some photos of my family and myself, but mostly I want to show my artwork there and what I'm working on. I now use the business function too which allows people t email me directly. If you're a visual artist, comedian, filmmaker, photographer, dancer, it is very helpful to just post examples of what you're best at. Some folks use it as a running blog of inspiration, meme's, or brands as well.

Linked In:
LinkedIn is helpful when I want to find out who someone is professionally, where they are based, and what if any experience they have. Say I want to know who an art director or agent is, I look them up here. Never have really gotten work from here, but it's nice to have an online resume and to be able to see others.

Tumblr is a great place to keep your work and your inspiration. If you are one of those artists who don't have a website, you can make one there for free, it just takes a bit of research for the correct layout. You can post and reblog your favorite tidbits thereby filling your creative bank account.

When I want to talk to a client in another city, state, or country this is the way to go. You can also talk  and chat with multiple people at once with Skype. Invaluable communication tool.

Keeping track of things:

Gmail + Google docs+ Calendar:
I use gmail. I like gmail, been a user since 2008 i believe. I had hotmail, yahoo, etc but gmail offered the cool features, chat with friends, and sleek design. I have my website email run through my gmail, as well as personal emails. But the best feature for me is Google Docs! So you could make a piece of art, an invoice, estimate, spreadsheet, write down book/project ideas, keep important personal documents in an online cloud that only you and who you invite can access. This takes away the file cabinet in a way, because you can create a document or scan one and never have to worry about where it is. I also use the google spread sheets to keep track of all the books i sell, all the money i spend throughout the year, and all the money I make. Also, the calendar is super helpful because you can keep track of assignments, meetings, or events on your computer and your phone.

This is where I keep track of things that I like. I use this site to make boards of images. Before, i used to keep folders of images on my computer, but that takes up space. With Pinterest I can make a board for a specific client and keep all reference images for drawing there. I use it to make boards of inspiring stuff and to showcase my work a little bit.

I use bit.ly because it sucks having to type out every website or link for my work. And because I upload hundreds of things a year I need to shorten the links so I can post them on places like twitter where the amount you type is limited, and i can keep track of how many clicks the link gets and who clicks it, from where, which country, etc. These analytics help when marketing your work.

This helps me blast new pieces of art or important events to several social media at once.

(Photo: Flea market)

Selling work:

Great place to sell artwork for a tiny fee. I sell prints, books, stickers, paintings, and more through Etsy and it helps with shipping, keeping track of who buys what, and has mechanisms for messaging,  buy supplies, sub-contract, and is like running a retail store. There are others like Shopify, Square (which i also use), etc.

I use Youtube to debut my book "Furqan's First Flat Top". I'm not a youtuber but I am aware of the huge power Youtube has in showcasing products, advice, tutorials, music, animation, film, tv, and so much more. You can find just about anything on there.

Blogger I've used since 2007. I did not know what it was for when I started, but I quickly fell in love with the format. Much like myspace, the blogger site allows you to customize how your blog looks in so many ways. And I like it as a running showcase of personal and client work, inspiration, and more. In the past I've had links to favorite artists, or inspiring blogs. Now I just use it to showcase my work and to write about things that interest me or help others. One of the greatest things about Blogger is that you can keep track of the statistics of your posts, that way you know what people are responding to, and where they're finding it. This has been an invaluable tool and I have used it over the past 10 years to grow artistically and business wise.

( Photo: Me by Halline Overby)

Creating work:

Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator
I use Photoshop and illustrator to draw with. The majority of my illustration is done traditionally, but a huge step for my process is scanning art and cleaning it up. By cleaning I mean brightening art, or adjusting contrast. I also mean taking out dust speckles, or changing things. I use photoshop to draw with as well because it gets great colors, you can adjust the colors, and it saves steps for me to scan.

Ipad + Astro Pad:
So my wife got together with my family and bought me and Ipad pro and pencil, and now I use the "Astro Pad" app to draw directly onto the pad and photoshop the way you would on a Wacom tablet. Its great and saves me a lot of time when drawing thumbnails or comps for clients. I don't have to scan anything and I have gotten some great brushes for painting that I plan to practice more and more in.

Soundcloud, Spotify, Stitcher:
I like tolisten to new music and podcasts while i work. Soundcloud is for new music, Spotify for classics, and Stitcher or the podcast app on my iphone is for listening to podcasts on business, marketing, manufacturing, culture, illustration, etc.

Other than that, the tools I use are an IPhone, Macbook (doesn't matter which computer or phone you use though imo) pencils, paint brushes, colored pencils, erasers, and paper. So i started as a freelance illustrator over a decade ago. I didn't know #$%^ back then and still feel like I'm just beginning in some ways. I've worked for newspapers, publishers, magazines, non profit organizations, small businesses, individuals, corporations, and some odd clients. But this is me just sharing some of what little I know. Please feel free to share it with students, folks making a career change, or people looking to run their business more smoothly. You can find me at Robdontstop.com or on Instagram and twitter.
-Robert Liu-Trujillo


Kindred Journey 18 - Geena Rocero

Geena Rocero is a trans activist and model from the Philippines. She was born there and migrated to the Bay Area to join her mother as a teenager. She worked as a clerk in department stores and later went to NYC to pursue a career in modeling. Before coming to the US Geena was part of a very visible group of trans models or pageant competitors in the Philippines. When she got to NYC she did not immediately tell her full story as a trans woman. In fact, only her close friends knew. Recently she decided to come out by giving a well received TED talk. In addition to coming out and continuing to model, she also went on to found an organization called "Gender Proud" which produces media highlighting the stories and lives of trans folks.  In addition to this, she has spoken at the UN, and many other places fighting for the rights of trans folks who are often ostracized, bullied, discriminated against, or murdered. Her work inspires young people to be themselves and to fight for their right to exist, live, love, and work.

Sources: TED, Girl Boss Radio, Rappler.com

Purchase: $40 (includes shipping) To purchase this original painting, please email me at info@robdontstop.com, a portion will go to Gender Proud.


Kindred Journey 17 -Bobby Hundreds

If this is your first time seeing this, I started a series of paintings called "Kindred Journey" last year celebrating my Asian American Pacific Islander folks for the month of May ( Asian Amer history month). Just like last year I'll be dropping some paintings of folks from the past and present making their grand parents proud. 

This guy right here is Bobby Hundreds, the co-founder of the Street wear brand "The Hundreds". Bobby and Ben (then law students) started their company in 2003, decades after brands like Vans and Stussy, but not too long after Supreme and 10 Deep. They started with t-shirts that spoke directly to 80's and 90's kids using the iconic bomb, punk, hip hop, skater, pop culture, and California references. They then expanded to cut and sew products such as sweaters, pants, jackets, hats, and more. The brand Bobby helped build, design, market, and grow started with clothes and eventually opened flagship stores in LA (his hometown), SF, and NYC. Not only that they have created their own print magazine and a killer video presence that gives back to the next generation while inspiring new ones. If you have Asian parents or grand parents you know it is tough to get respect doing anything but law, medicine, or tech (now), but Bobby and his team have done it. Salute.

Sources: The Hundreds.com, Wikipedia, LA Times

Purchase: $40 (includes shipping) To purchase this original painting, please email me at info@robdontstop.com


We're The People- Summer 2017 reading list

Excited to have "Furqan's First" featured among some great authors and illustrators for this summer 2017 reading list. You can download a pdf and or share it with your folks. Check out the great books on this list, especially "My Night in The Planetarium" by Innosanto Nagara.


We Need Diverse Books roundtable

This is part one of a roundtable discussion online about best practices or advice for new illustrators in children's books. And it features people in traditional publishing and independent publishing. I get to chime in alongside some greats.



Reading at Turn the Page-Fairyland

If you'e in Oakland, come to this event with your kiddies to meet me and Laurin Mayeno, and a bunch of other authors! FAIRYLAND

Freelance Chronicles 2- Children's books

(Photo: Collider, Muhammad Ali)

Get passionate: You can’t really do this unless you feel deeply passionate about the medium, artform, genre, whatever you wanna call it. I became both passionate and obsessed with children’s books around 2005. Here are a few points to share how I got started in the children's book community. There is no one way, and this is by no means a comprehensive list of points. Just my experience. Look out for more soon.
(Photo: My Son and I, Oakland 2005)

Read a lot: My son is the reason I got into kids books. No joke. I was inspired by reading to him. There were artists who I wanted to be like and there was no where near enough stories telling his story or mine. So, I read to him every chance I got. And when he was able to read, we read together. I felt better equipped after reading lots and lots of picture books with prose, narrative, alphabets, long paragraphs, etc. He's 12 now!

(Photo: Brentwood/Funtimes Guide, Barnes and Noble)

Book stores: When I could I would go to bookstores and look through all the new children’s books. I started to write down who was publishing what, who the illustrator or author was, what was there on the shelves, and what was missing. As you can probably guess, I saw no books about what it’s like to be Blasian (Black and Asian), or Korean American (Korean Parents, American upbringing). I went to the stores with my son first, then I started going on my own.

(Photo: Denise. A Diff World)

Reach out: I started making work. Mostly short book proposals that were terrible at first. And then I started to reach out to people and ask for advice. Mike Perry (Daniel’s Ride ,Turntable Timmy), Maya Gonzalez(Fiesta Femenina, Iguanas in the snow), Doug Cunningham( Turntable Timmy), GregChristie ( Bass Reeves, The Book Itch), Simon Silva and so many more were very generous with their feedback. I also reached out to book industry people and let me tell you, I learned a lot. Reach out, ask lots of smart and dumb questions.

(Photo: Scbwi)

Associations: I have mixed feeling about associations like ALA, Scbwi, and others, but I mention them as a resource if you are beginning. It’s worth checking out because there are lots of people there who can offer advice. There are also grants there. I haven’t been a member for a long time, but see what you can learn. Some members are open minded, some are part of the old guard. What I mean is that when I pursued the old guard their aim was to get people to approach traditional publishers only. The open minded ones looked for any avenue to make and share books. Especially books by and about people whose stories have not been told. Learn from both. 

(Photo: African Amer Animators past & present-Jackie Ormes)

Make shit and share it: Ok, so after I attended Scbwi, ALA, and checked out a whole bunch of the “traditional” avenues I realized three things. First, I didn’t fully understand all the parts that were working together, for me, or against me. Two, I realized that there were way too many people going the traditional (agents, publishers, writing seminars, groups,etc) route and they were competing with each other. You have to work on your craft. No short cuts about this. Write, draw, repeat, until you have something you like. Then keep doing it. Then share it.

(photo: NY Daily News-Malcolm X)

Law of attraction: It sounds corny, but people helped me when I worked up the courage to ask for help. Or rather, they began to send me children’s book related things because I kept mentioning it to people in real life and online. And people will especially help if you are a moving train. People want to be a part of something (a project, a film, a book, whatever) that is happening with “passion”. A moving train is like dancing whether people see you or not. The passion you have is infectious. And when you show rather than tell, more people get hip to your dream and your skill.

(Photo: Mission SF branch library-Yuyi Morales)

Library: I hit the local library. Not just one branch, but several. In fact, I would go to libraries in other nearby cities just for fun. Why? To read more. To find out what libraries purchased and what kids would sit down to read. I could take home a bunch of books to study them further as well for little to no cost. I researched all kinds of business, magazines, young adult novels, middle grade, comics, graphic novels, and lots of picture books. This to me, was studying “storytelling” as an art form and it was also learning intangible things about the readers I wanted to reach, business, and so much more.

(Photo: Joy Liu-Trujillo, Me)

Kickstarter: My wife and I shot my kickstarter at the library and at our home to self publish my third children’s book. I’m not the biggest social media user ever, but I’m active on several platforms and building a community with like-minded storytellers came in very handy when I launched the kickstarter. After learning more about the industry, the systematic racism (call it bias if that sounds less threatening), the gate-keepers, sending out lots of work and getting no response, I decided to do it on my own. And I wasn’t the only one. Both Janine Macbeth (Oh Oh Baby Boy, Blood Orange Press) and Innosanto Nagara( A is for Activist, Counting on Community) had done it and they inspired me. Kickstarter and Indiegogo combined with other crowd funders are the biggest publishers of books, music, and film outside of the “traditional” companies. It is NOT for everyone though.

(Gif: Make a Gif:Stranger Things)

Persistence: It took a lot of asking, sharing, emailing, calling, reading, writing, redoing, editing, researching, breathing, promoting, talking, and screwing up to get where I’m at now. And I feel like I’m just beginning. To get anything good going, it takes time. I worked all kinds of cool and very not cool jobs to pay the bills. I got help from family members and my wife and I am still struggling. But, good gumbo takes time to cook, I didn’t want to throw it in the microwave. Persistence to me, is letting a “no” or “i’m sorry, but” or “no response” pass without stopping me. People are going to say those things, but you must keep going because the next milestone or jewel is right around the corner. And this is a marathon, not a race.

(Photo: Mi Vida Loca)

Give back: I’ve also helped out other authors/illustrators with their books. And I have a few in the works. I’m still learning, but I plan to share more information as I go. If you’ve read this far, that means you want to make books too. Do not wait for acceptance or permission, make your book (or film, or album, you get the point) and email me if you have any sincere questions. There is no short cut. Once you get in , give back to the next generation.

(Illustration: Tony Purvear & Erika Alexander: Concrete Park)

POC/LGBTQ: When looking at the numbers for books written AND illustrated by people of color/queer folks it can get depressing. It feels like no one cares. But, as Fredrick Douglas said “power concedes nothing without a demand”. We’re showing the “traditional” industry what we can do for sure, but we’re also showing parents, librarians, caregivers, teachers, and kids themselves what else is out there. And Mira Nair said “If we don’t tell our stories, no one will”. The act of showing a child a beautiful story that they can relate to, or of showing them the story of someone who is different from them is revolutionary because there is so much mistrust, misunderstanding, mis-education, and stories that are invisible or erased. So tell your story, and do it with skill and quality.

(Photo: Halline Overby, Me)

Hello: My name is Robert Liu-Trujillo. I am an author illustrator from Oakland California (Born and raised in the Bay Area). I started my journey in children’s books 11 years ago. To date, I have illustrated four picture books. In 2013 I began work on A bean and cheese tacobirthday, published by Arte Publico Press and written by Diane Gonzales-Bertrand. In 2013 I also began planning for Furqan’s First Flat Top a book I self published with my wife (designer) Joy Liu-Trujillo (Come Bien Books) translator Cinthya Munoz and a team of folks. The book came out in 2016. In 2014 I began work on I am Sausal Creek written and coordinated by Melissa Reyes. It was later published by Nomadic Press and released in 2015. I began work on “One of a kind, like me” published by Janine Macbeth’s Blood Orange Press in 2015. The story was written by Laurin Mayeno and released in 2016. Stay tuned for more stories.
Do me a favor, if you liked this, please share and request the books I've worked on at your local library, classroom, office, or store. Another great author who is doing it independently and talking about it worth checking is Zetta Elliott (Zetta made me feel understood, when I was losing my steam for the art)