I was born in the part of Czechoslovakia now called the Czech Republic. For those of you who aren't quite sure, the Czech Republic is right in the centre Europe and the Czech Republic of the European continent (sandwiched between Slovakia, Austria, Germany and Poland), earning it the nickname "the heart of Europe." It's not a very big country; in fact, you could fit all of the Czech Republic inside the borders of Praha Lake Superior with room to spare! Nevertheless, what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. Growing up in its capital city, Prague, I was surrounded by over 1 000 years of history.

I was an only child who loved art. My parents encouraged my enthusiasm and sent me to an art high school. From there I went on to study architecture at the University of Prague; however, I never got the chance to finish that degree. When the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 I was in Italy with my husband. We decided that we would not return. Though we considered settling in England and America, My plane ticketthe officials at the Canadian embassy told us we could fly the next day if we wanted. Two weeks later we left for Toronto, and I still have the airline ticket I flew with that day on Canadian Pacific Airlines!

On September 25, I woke up at a hotel at Dundas and Jarvis (I think it was called the "Westover") to what I will always remember as one of the most miserable days of my life. I could hardly speak a word of English, and I had left everything--my friends and my family--not knowing if I would see any of them ever again.
Things soon got better. In no time at all I was enrolled at the Ontario College of Art and making many new friends with my gradually improving English. I graduated with a degree in graphic design and began working as an art director for a business magazine, which in turn led to illustrating math and spelling textbooks.

You might say that my career in illustrating children's picture books started in 1987 with A Promise is a Promise, written by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak. For the most part that's true, but if you take a look at the "early work" section of this website, you'll see some of my early attempts.

Since then I have illustrated more than 25 books from my Toronto studio including Northern Lights -- The Soccer Trails, which won the Ruth Schwartz Award and was listed on the Aesop Accolade list. I was also awarded the silver medal of the Mr. Christie Book Award for both The Twelve Months and The Polar Bear's Gift.


There's nothing I'd rather be doing than illustrating children's books. I often tell kids at my school presentations that life as an artist is great as long as they don't want to make a lot of money. But there's nothing like the feeling of seeing your work on a bookshelf after months of work.

Take a look around my site and learn a bit about the stories behind the books I have illustrated. If you have any questions you think I might be able to help you with, send me an email at:
vladyana@vladyana.ca.
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