Carson Ellis


Photo of Carson Ellis
Carson Ellis was born in 1975 in Vancouver, Canada. She was raised in suburban New York and college-educated at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she earned a BFA in Painting in 1998.

Carson has been a babysitter in New York, a hot dog vendor in California, a chairlift operator in Vermont, an artist's model in Montana, and a cocktail waitress in Minnesota. These days she is happy to be an illustrator in Oregon, providing art for such popular books as The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, The Composer Is Dead by Lemony Snicket, and the Wildwood Chronicles written by her husband Colin Meloy. Additionally, she is the illustrator-in-residence for the band, The Decemberists, and has created art for their album covers, t-shirts, websites, posters, and stage sets. Each fall she teaches a free twelve-session drawing workshop for teenagers at the Portland Art Museum.

Carson lives with her husband Colin, their children and a cat called Window in Portland, quite near the Impassable Wilderness.

Author's Comment: I’ve illustrated both picture books and chapter books. They’re so different but, for me, the differences have more to do with the function of the illustration in each than their audience. I think picture books are harder. They need to have a visual arc that matches their story arc. The text and the images are interdependent. Any given page has a relationship to the page that came before and the one that comes after. There’s a craft to it that I think the casual reader might take for granted. The same goes for chapter books, but that process comes a lot more naturally to me. I read until I come to a scene I want to illustrate and then I illustrate it.

Nationality: American

Featured series by Carson Ellis


Wildwood Chronicles (Ages 8 and up)