Joana Penna grew up in Rio de Janeiro and has been illustrating since she could first hold a crayon.
With a BA in Graphic Design in hand and quite a few illustrations published, she left Brazil for Barcelona to master the art of design, illustration and calligraphy at EINA Design School for a year.
She then moved to London for more schooling at Central Saint Martins and Camberwell School of Arts, for another year and a half.
Enticed by Asia, Joana set sail to explore the serendipity of the island of Sri Lanka, where she worked as a Senior Art Director at McCann Erickson, and later Grey Worldwide advertising agencies, for four years. Time in which she produced many handcrafted travels journals - her impressions of the many travels around Asia.
Hopping from island to island, she landed in Manhattan in 2003 where she took courses at the School of Visual Arts and the Center for Book Arts, and took back her career as an illustrator.
Along with illustrating, she has been teaching art for kids since she arrived in New York, first at HiArt! in Manhattan, and now at her local library in Haworth, NJ, a quaint wooded town in the outskirts of New York City, where she lives with her husband and their children .
Joana has illustrated many children’s books, mostly for Brazilian publishers. Her renowned Pilar Diary series, by Flávia Lins e Silva, Editora Zahar, has been exported to France, Germany, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, China and Poland.
The first book has been adapted for theatre into an award winning play in 2018/19.
The Pilar series will soon become a cartoon on Nat Geo Kids Brazil/South America in 2020.