Painting illustration of a family walking across a map of Russia to freedom.
“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Why create an illustrated book?

  • Images can help support and enhance your written narrative, as the old saying goes…”A picture is worth a thousand words”
  • Visuals can help make your heirloom book accessible to multiple generations, illustrated books can be read visually by young children
  • Illustrated books provide a lasting place to preserve and share family photo collections

When you look into the eyes of your grandmother immortalized in the photo framed on your desk, it is amazing when you see your own likeness reflected back. Photographs can transport us, offering an intimate type of visual communication, creating a bridge across time and space. Photographs can provide us with visual clues about what life was like, as well as offering a window into the feelings and relationships that were central to that moment preserved. When we can’t find photos that correspond to the stories we want to tell or we want to add our own personal perspective to what is being expressed, that is where the creative illustration process comes in…

Illustration Tips


Custom montage created by Family Heirloom Arts for the Saltzman heirloom book, Our Story, A Family Legacy.

Do you have old shoe boxes full of family photographs and memorabilia hidden away in your closet? Are you the keeper of the family stuff but don’t know what to do with everything? Are you passionate about writing and researching your family stories, but don’t know how to get started bringing those stories to life visually? Whether you are an experienced artist or designer or have never picked up a paintbrush in your life, here a few tips to get started on illustrating your stories.

  Create a photo essay to illustrate each chapter of your book.
A photo essay is a series of photographs that are intended to tell a story or evoke a series of emotions in the viewer. Photo essays often address a certain issue or attempt to capture the character of places and events. You can begin by editing your photo collection and organizing the images based on a specific theme.

  Design your own montage or heirloom art illustration.
Combine multiple images into one picture to tell a story or highlight a theme. Merge reproductions of personal and historic photographs, maps and memorabilia with illustrative painting to create original illustrations.

  Include visual support materials in your book.
Historic photographs, maps, letters and memorabilia can also be reproduced as stand-alone features in book, often enhancing the visual presentation of a project.

Join us for our upcoming fall workshops…

Register now for our fall workshops, or contact Family Heirloom Arts to set-up a free initial consultation so you can learn more about how we can help you write and illustrate your own heirloom book for your family.

“Lisa is a true teacher. She is so encouraging and helpful, asking just the right thought-provoking questions at the right moment. She has a rich body of knowledge and the ability to share so much, both about the conceptual and technical parts of personal history projects.”
– Jennifer, Family Heirloom Arts Workshop Participant

Oral History Interviews
Writing & Editing
Book Layout & Design