All Local, All The Time

Student takes steps toward illustrating dream

Niwot High School senior Anya Berlova received a unique recognition for her art this past fall. Berlova was the first high school student to have an illustration in the annual calendar published by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

“It felt really amazing,” Berlova said when describing the moment at the chapter’s fall conference when she learned that her illustration was one of twelve selected for the calendar. “At first when they were announcing the winners I couldn’t believe my name was called. It felt like a really big step for me.”

In the calendar, which is sent as a marketing tool to literary agents and children’s book editors, Berlova’s illustration of four frisky foxes is featured along with local amateur and seasoned professional artists such as Ruth Harper, illustrator of the New York Times bestselling book, The Kissing Hand.

As a young child Berlova was always drawing. At age six she started taking private art lessons. After gaining a strong background in classical instruction, Anya began to develop her own unique style, which she felt would appeal to children, and created stories to go with her illustrations.

“I decided writing and illustrating is something I’m interested in,” Berlova explained. As a result, she began researching how to submit her work to agents and editors, which is how she discovered the local SCBWI chapter and the calendar contest.

Though Berlova hasn’t yet landed an agent or book deal as a result of the contest win, it has taken her art in an unexpected direction. “I was showing my calendar to one of my teachers and she said she really like my artwork and she wanted to see it on some merchandise, so that is how I got my idea to start my business.”

As a result, Berlova created her first merchandise prototype, a coffee mug with an illustration of a groggy sheep and the phrase, “For these kind of mornings,” and is in the process of contacting local businesses to find one interested in selling her final product. In the future she hopes to create illustrations for t-shirts, posters and tote bags and sell them in local stores and online.

Though Berlova will continue to pursue art after she graduates high school this spring, she has other plans for her college degree. “I’m actually applying as a business major,” Berlova said. “I can learn about the nuances and how to make things work when starting a business [with her illustrations].”

“Anya is a great artist,” said SCBWI calendar contest coordinator Karen Windness, who anticipates great things from Berlova. “She has a quirky, fresh style with strong market appeal.”

To see more of Berlova’s illustrations, visit her website at


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