Hi there. This is Kristen Palana, the very lucky and proud illustrator of Lori Leak Travels to Paris.

When Lori’s creator and author, Barrett first approached me about taking on this project back in May of 2015 she had just interviewed me on her internet radio show, Live With Barrett about my award-winning animations and online multimedia courses as a Udemy instructor.


I’d like to tell you that I jumped at the opportunity to bring the young and spunky Lori to life. In fact though, I was a bit hesitant. This was mainly just due to end of the academic year exhaustion in my role as tenured Associate Professor of Digital Media and Program Director of Film and Digital Media at The American University of Rome where I work. I didn’t know if I would have the will or the energy to take on such a large project. I also am an expat navigating daily life in a foreign language and the mother of two very active and spirited boys, ages 3 and 5. For me, spare time is almost non-existent and extra projects are not things that are easy to fit in.

However once I learned more about Barrett, her story, and the little girl protagonist who is essentially a version of herself, I became more interested. I also loved that Lori would be intended as a role model to help inspire children from all walks of life, especially girls of color to not only see the world but to also make their mark in it.

In 2012 when I finished my award-winning animated short, Veggie Propaganda ( a quirky, sing-song animation about our relationship with animals and our food), many people told me that my animation style reminded them of a children’s book and that I should consider illustrating one some day. Hmm… some day maybe, I thought.

Still from Veggie Propaganda
Still from Veggie Propaganda

In 2015 I finally have gotten my chance. I’d like to say that in the images, not only is Lori Leak a version of her creator, Barrett Clemmensen Powell, but she also contains elements of a more empowered and confident version of my younger self who always dreamed of owning a passport and filling it up with stamps one day.

She’s also my two Roman sons, Lukas and Nico who get into just as much trouble as Lori if not more on a daily basis but have the most wonderful smiles and twinkles in their eyes that they can easily be forgiven.

I am an avid worshipper of the power of color and I hope you all enjoy my sincere efforts to bring this story to life visually in a memorable, appealing, and eye-popping way.

I’d love it if you wanted to see more of my work and see what I am up to over at my online portfolio. Come on over, kick off your shoes, and say hello.

I look forward to seeing Lori Leak’s Paris trip as a finished printed book in just under a month now. May she bring joy with her wherever she goes.

Best wishes and happy reading!

Kristen Palana

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *