top of page

You can follow me here:

Nimbus Publishing Artist page

Books illustrated

When Heaven Smiled on Our World
First printing: 1992    Re-issued 2020
Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Reviewed in — The Canadian Children's Book Centre


What-Cha Doing?
by Kim Renton
2019 Chocolate River Publishing

Distribution also through:

featured in CM: Canadian Review of Materials

featured in Canada FBM2020

reviewed in The Miramichi Reader


La Patate Cadeau - ou la «vraie» histoire de la poutine râpée
by Diane Carmel Léger
2014 Bouton d’or Acadie
Piau’s Potato Present
The "True" Story of the Poutine Rapee

Diane Carmel Léger

MONS Verlag FB announcement of artist:

Sélection Prix Hackmatack 2014, 2015, 2016
Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award

Featured in

Diane Carmel Léger

Mayann’s Train Ride
by Mayann Francis 2015 Nimbus Publishing

En FRANÇAIS Mayann prends le train

Featured in
the Canadian Children's Book Centre
Black History Month
– Canadian Reading List for Kids & Teens

And featured in
There's a Book for That - Where book love and the joy

of a classroom community are shared

This book was also shortlisted for
Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence

in Illustration 2016


Apples and Butterflies
by Shauntay Grant 2012 Nimbus Publishing

Featured in 49th Shelf

Featured in Atlantic Books
Featured in Goodreads
Canada Book Award Winner

Featured in Stories of Colour Youtube channel


Tamara Thiebaux-Heikalo

was born in 1963 and immigrated from the USA to 

Canada in 1975. She and her husband, Daniel Heikalo,

run a graphic design, art and music adventure. 

Tamara has more than 30 years of experience as a professional illustrator, artist and graphic designer.


Her work includes illustration for children’s books, magazines, and books for adults. Several of the children's books have received awards and honourable recognition.

"I have been drawing for as long as I could hold a pencil. 

I work primarily in watercolor, but sometimes I use acrylic.

I also enjoy just pencil, and sometimes black ink. My interests cover the whimsical, surreal, caricatural, or realistic."


In 1982, Tamara attended the foundation year of the Ontario College of Art & Design. She was nominated for a scholarship to continue in the fine arts department, which had several excellent teachers. However, she realized she was not a city person, and chose to try the fine arts department of a university in a small town in New Brunswick.


"I loved the geographical location, but the department was

a disappointment. I was not getting what I needed. 

After two years I discontinued."


One deciding factor was that the ventilation system was terribly inadequate. This is a serious concern because many

of the materials used in the art world are health hazards, particularly for printmaking.

“I did become ill from the inks and solvents that are used for etching and engraving, but I did not make the connection at the time. When I dropped lithography, a medium that I knew

to be especially toxic, I received a Fail grade. It was not until a few years later that the University took the lack of ventilation seriously. By then it did not matter. I recalled that my high school art teacher had told me my work was suited to illustration, and I decided to launch myself into the children’s book illustration world. I dedicated my first book to that teacher.

"I love the challenge of illustration -- taking a writer's text and translating the concepts into a visual work. The pre-research necessary (which can take quite a while) is fascinating."


Tamara has provided spot illustrations for various publications, including a book about ecological forestry management, called Restoring the Acadian Forest 

by Jamie Simpson.


“The book does not use all the images I had created for the original project (some of which are presented on this site), but does use a few, in black and white. I am delighted to have contributed to this book, because nature conservation is something I care a great deal about.”

Whether illustrating for children or for adults, Tamara aspires to create art that leads to a collectable-worthy book.

As an artist, I am keenly interested in using my

talent for positive impact, in the world, in our society, and our communities.
Visual art can be a powerful medium.

Visually-abled children respond immediately

to images.

As an adult, I continue to be enchanted by quality illustration. Books with good stories, and good art, are vital.

Additionally, as a person with a physical difference,

I know well the need to “see someone like me”, in

the media, and in literature.

My own experience, of being marginalized for

a physical aspect of myself that I do not have control over, of knowing how important it is to see positive representation of people who are 'different' (or, just represented at all), combined with a strong artistic talent, is something I can bring to the table.


Tamara also has a reputation for socio-political artwork, from the reverential to the humorous, particularly, though not exclusively, concerning women’s self-image.

In 1993, she exhibited a series of images entitled:

Breaking Through the Stereotype, in which she imagines more realistic versions of the Barbie doll.

Tamara also loves to create in three-dimensional work -- dolls, puppets and masks, using fabric and/or papier maché, and mixed media. Some of her characters have been life-size, a few have been over life-size. Some dolls have been only a couple inches tall.

“Although I have had a bit of interest in theatrical productions, the masks were never used that way. The one’s I have made can be worn, but they are usually just for display, and they are usually purchased for that purpose.”


Tamara’s primary focus is illustration and graphic design, and, in addition to the traditional mediums, she will occasionally incorporate digital technology.

"Digital media is fascinating in that it enables me to expand

on, and further explore, the myriad possibilities that are available, as a tool in my repertoire of mediums.”

When digital is used, it is in the latter stages of the work. The integrity of the original medium is predominant, and always strongly evident.

A couple of projects she has been involved in were collaborations with the writer, Richard Lewis:


The Wrath and Blessings of The Dark Mother

"This project, completed in May 2010, was for a series of poems by Richard, a friend whose writing shows a depth and wisdom about life that I admire.


"Richard gave me full freedom to do what I do best, in coming up with images in response to his words. I then worked on the layout and design, to bring it together in book format, incorporating background material and bits of details from some of the paintings.


"I received excellent input and assistance from my partner, Daniel Heikalo, who has a keen eye for visuals, as well as knowledge about digital technology. This has become a coffee-table variety of art book for adults. So far, only a very small number of books have been vanity published."

The Faery Times

    ~ A Collection of Faeries and Other Beings

"Richard has an amazing capacity to create elaborate, fantastical, and humourous, yet astute, social commentary. The notions of fairies, gnomes, and other such characters pave the way to a vastly entertaining and stimulating world. I find Richard's inventiveness thoroughly inspiring for the type of pictures I like to create. However, it must be noted, that this is, by and large, not intended for young children. Nor has any of it yet been published."

Driftwood Dragons and other seaside poems
by Tyne Brown 2012 Nimbus Publishing

Featured in the Canadian Children's Book Centre
April 2014 Newsletter: National Poetry Month      
Shortlisted for
Lillian Shepherd Award for Excellence

in Illustration
Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award Shortlist 2013-14


The Cat From Kosovo
by Mary Jane Hampton 2001 Nimbus Publishing

Featured in 49th Shelf

Featured in Good Reads

Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award 2003


The Blue Boots
by Lorraine Drdul 2004 Lorraine Drdul
My Scrapbook, by Gus
by Rose Vaughan 2002 Rose Vaughan
About the tortoise living at

the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History

Follow Gus! He is a real tortoise, born in 1922!

A Christmas Crisis
by Pam Calabrese MacLean
1989 Hamboyan Publishers
Goldilocks & The Three Bears
Fitzhenry & Whiteside 1989
Now out of print        

Adult books

Unruly Princess
by Marcelle Thiébaux  2012 WestBow Press

Restoring the Acadian Forest
by Jamie Simpson 2008 Res Telluris
Now a 2nd edition


Publications in which Tamara’s artwork has been featured

Cover and back cover of
Canadian Women’s Studies
York University, ON
volume  17

Cover of
Halifax, Nova Scotia


bottom of page