Williamstown resident becomes published illustrator

College junior hopes to work in art therapy for autistic children

Williamstown resident and junior at Cedar Crest College, Olivia Roberts, holds up her first published work ‘A Day at the Beach’ which she illustrated. Roberts collaborated with the author to make the story come to life.

Since Williamstown native Olivia Robert volunteered for a project at Cedar Crest College, she has become a published illustrator for the book “A Day at the Beach,” by Jessica Evans. 

Roberts’ English class at the Allentown, Pennsylvania, college was working on a project about publishing and asked art majors to illustrate books. And art therapy major, Roberts volunteered for the opportunity to use their creations for  portfolios. 

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“At first, I thought I could connect it to a class, but then it didn’t really fit into any of the classes I was teaching,” said Professor Jill Odegaard, chair of the college’s art department. “So I sent an email out to all of our art and art therapy majors to let them know there was this opportunity … 

“Roberts was one of the first students to respond,” Odegaard added. “So she has been very motivated throughout the whole thing.”

When she heard about the opportunity to collaborate with another student and use her artistic ability to help a story come to life, Roberts was ecstatic.

“I got the email, and within the same minute I responded that I was in,” she recalled. “It sounded like it was such a fun thing to do.”

“A Day at the Beach” was created by Evans as part of a class she took at Cedar Crest as an education major. The assignment was to write a personal narrative, so she wrote about her childhood day at the beach. The story goes into detail about building sandcastles, collecting sea shells and swimming. To illustrate it, , Roberts created sketches and drawings on her iPad with Apple Pencil, and sent them to Evans for approval

“I used Procreate on my Ipad for the images and it is all digital with my Apple Pencil,” Roberts explained. “This is really the first time I worked with ProCreate using all the different brushes and stuff, and it was really cool to experiment with.” 

“It gives the art students a very tangible and applicable use of their art,” said Odegaard. “To go through that experience and collaboration while going through someone else’s narrative and coming up with a style and an image, it is problem  solving at its foundation.” 

Roberts is in her junior year at Cedar Crest and hopes to be accepted into the art therapy master’s program there. She plans a career as an art therapist for children with autism. 


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