Artist Profile

A man in blue shirt standing next to a guitar.

John Parra is an award-winning illustrator, fine artist, designer, author, and educator best known for his art illustrated, Latino themed, children’s picture books. For his work he has received many awards and accolades including: Three American Library Association’s Pura Belpré Honors, Two Golden Kite Awards from The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, two Christopher Awards and a 2023 Américas Award. Parra’s original artwork has also been showcased and displayed in numerous gallery and museum exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad, with many paintings now residing in private collections. He has taught art at the Carnegie Art Museum in Oxnard, CA and regularly speaks as a visiting artist at schools and literary conferences across the country, advocating art and reading education.

John’s artistic path began growing up in Southern California. He spent his days exploring and drawing. His Hispanic roots and heritage provided a rich cultural palette of inspiring imagery and customs. Mexican art and murals, papier-mâché piñatas, Dia de Muertos and Baile folklórico dance costumes, folk art, science and museum nature dioramas, landscape designs, pop art and surrealism, regional cuisines, music, family characters and memories, are all visual influences seen in his work.

John’s picture book, Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos, written by Monica Brown, was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, and received the Pura Belpré Honor Award for Illustration, as well as named a Smithsonian Best Book of the Year. His other recent books include: The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Little Libraries, Big Heroes, written by Miranda Paul, and One Is a Piñata: A Book of Numbers, written by Roseanne G. Thong. His book, Growing an Artist: The Story of a Landscaper and His Son, was his debut as both author and illustrator. In addition, he has illustrated book covers for author, Ruth Behar’s: Letters from Cuba and Across So Many Seas. John’s illustrations for commercial clients include: Target, United Airlines, Hitachi, PBS, National Geographic, and many others. His designs were seen on six, U.S. Forever Postage Stamps, titled: Delicioso, and his MTA artcard poster, Birdhouse Subways, was displayed throughout NYC subways. John was additionally invited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY to present a special event about his career and illustrations. His most recent picture book is titled, Spanish is the Language of My Family, with author Michael Genhart. John is a graduate of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and currently lives with his wife, Maria, in Queens, New York.

Wikipedia: John Parra (illustrator)

Target, United States Postal Service, United Airlines, Jeep/Chrysler, MTA Arts & Design, PBS, National Geographic, Hitachi, SCBWI, El Museo del Barrio, L’Attitude Art and The Boston Children’s Hospital, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Chronicle Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Holiday House, North/South Books, Macmillan McGraw-Hill, Lee & Low Books, The Children's Book Council, Mpls St. Paul Magazine, Santa Clara Magazine, The L.A. Weekly, Virgin Records, Songline/Tone Field Productions and more.