I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, and at 21 escaped from the “City of Gold” to beautiful Cape Town, where I raised and nurtured two children and a Corporate Training Consultancy. It took me 30 years to finally take my dreams more seriously (and myself less seriously) and start painting and drawing professionally.

I write and illustrate children’s picture books in traditional and digital media and like to work in a large variety of mediums and styles. My career has taught me how to be versatile, adventurous, practical, deadline-driven and client-focused.

My childhood garden had wonderful rockeries in which I imagined I was a caveman, explorer or vet, and I’d spend days in my secret glade with books and sketchbook, entering the fantasy world that I now invite children into through my books.


I’ve been a part-time musician and singer and apart from continuing with my corporate training, I teach art to adults and children. I’m a member of the SCBWI and SASA (South African Society of Artists), and participate in exhibitions regularly. I’ve have been selling prints, cards and original art for over a decade. My artistic style is whimsical and colourful, indicative of my nature as a “Romantic Pragmatist”. I observe nature and human nature close-up, with my art and illustrations connecting us with the mystery, contradictions or frailties in the animals and humans we interact with every day. To see my more serious art, visit www.joannacookeart.com



Testimonials & Reviews:

“It was a true pleasure to work with Joanna, who is a genuine artist. She often exceeded expectations regarding timelines and was very communicative throughout the process of illustrating my book, setting expectations appropriately.  The first sketch she sent me made it it into the book basically unaltered. I fell in love with her illustration and felt an immediate connection that she “got” my character.

I can not say enough good things about her skills in the book planning process. Joanna was organized, detailed and deliberate in her approach every step of the way. I loved how Joanna tackled my more challenging ideas, and there were a few. She never resisted a challenge and often the challenge turned into another fun idea. In addition to her amazing talent, Joanna was very knowledgeable about the market and her advice on what to do and not to do was spot on. The quality of the images and final book design (which Joanna did as well) was excellent. We had some added challenges working with measurements and limitations from publisher across the ocean and Joanna worked so hard to deliver a superior final product. I can’t wait to work with her again.”

Britta Strohmeyer Esmail – Author of “Raina’s (Un)Happy Birthday“, winner of Mom’s Choice Awards. More reviews of this book can be read here: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/britta-stromeyer-esmail/rainas-un-happy-birthday/

The storyline is compelling and highly relatable for young children. Best of all, the illustrations are truly magical and beautiful. Highly recommended.