Artist Profile


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, and a Christopher’s 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 Santa Barbara, California. He spent his days exploring and drawing. His Hispanic roots and heritage provided a rich cultural palette of inspiring imagery and customs. Mexican murals and papier-mâché piñatas, folk art, science and nature dioramas, pop and surrealism, regional cuisines, music and dance costumes, family characters and memories are all visual influences seen in his work.

John’s book Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos (written by Monica Brown, NorthSouth Books) was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, Pura Belpré Honor for Illustration, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Book, and Smithsonian Best Book of the Year. His recent books include: The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne (written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, S&S, Jan 2020), Little Libraries, Big Heroes (written by Miranda Paul, HMH), and One Is a Piñata: A Book of Numbers (written by Roseanne G. Thong, Chronicle Books). He also illustrated the cover artwork for Ruth Behar’s Letters from Cuba (Penguin, August 2020). John’s illustrations for commercial clients including United Airlines, Hitachi, PBS, National Geographic, Boston Children’s Hospital, El Museo del Barrio, and many others. His designs can be 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 UPCOMING picture book is titled, Spanish is the Language of My Family (Holiday House) with author Michael Genhart, and arrives July 2023. 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)

United States Postal Service, Target, United Airlines, MTA Arts & Design, Jeep/Chrysler, Hitachi, PBS, National Geographic, 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, Santa Clara Magazine, Mpls St. Paul Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Virgin Records, Songline/Tone Field Productions and more.