How I Became an Illustrator by the Forward

How I Became an Illustrator

Earlier this week, artist Jan Aronson wrote about her illustrations for “The Bronfman Haggadah.” Her blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:

How I Became an Illustrator by the ForwardHow I Became an Illustrator by the Forward

When Edgar Bronfman asked me to illustrate the text of “The Bronfman Haggadah,” which at that point he had been writing for several years, my first response was: “But I’m not an illustrator!”

“Good. I don’t want an illustrator. I want you to do it,” was his swift reply.

And so began a project that was the opportunity of a lifetime. An artist does not often get the chance to have complete and full creative freedom to do what they want with something that is so meaningful — both in a personal and spiritual sense.

Not once was there anyone looking over my shoulder trying to edit what I was doing. Certainly not Edgar or even Rizzoli, the publisher.

This project was a chance to actually branch out and use all of my creative juices. And it was a wonderful, wonderful thing to do at this point in my life as an artist. I’ve spent many years in my studio alone creating various bodies of work, so to finally have the opportunity to collaborate — with my husband no less — was a tremendous joy.

Looking back, Edgar’s request was truly a blessing in disguise. For an artist, the biggest challenges often yield work of a totally unforeseen—and remarkable—quality. I was continuously striving to present the material in the most stimulating ways possible. How would I keep adults interested? How do I encourage the children, who would be at the table for their first and tenth times alike, to open the Haggadah and to look forward to turning the page?

My new inhabitance of the mind of an illustrator was, as it turned out, something of a metamorphosis. It changed the way that I approached my art, the way I perceived the art world, and the way I presented my work.


Visit Jan Aronson’s official website here.


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How I Became an Illustrator

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