A Day With Dow Phumiruk

Updated: Jul 26

Even with the dreary gloom of a rare rainy morning in Colorado, Dow Phumiruk still lit up the room with her bright smile and sweet voice. I was late and dripping wet when I arrived, but Dow still gave me the biggest hug - she even asked me if I needed anything!

Dow oozes creativity and is often adorned in pieces of jewelry, clothing or accessories that she’s made herself or has had made by another artist. On our recent visit to the Denver Zoo for a Title I school, Dow was dressed in Hugsby clothing and accessories - a custom dress made by a local artist, a Hugsby purse and other accessories, made by Dow herself and more! She also gifts these pieces to other creatives, like the special teacup earrings she made for Andrea Wang to celebrate Luli and the Language of Tea, which Andrea also wore on our special event at the zoo! Dow’s magic touch was everywhere!

Don’t let her big, bright smile, sweet voice, and creative aura fool you - Dow is a doctor. She spent years working as a pediatrician before having children of her own. Childcare wasn’t a feasible option, a problem many of us face now, so Dow took a break from practicing medicine to focus on raising her family. She spent a lot of time reading and drawing with her children and found her childhood love of drawing reignited.

Dow always doodled as a child, but she never considered art school. Her parents were Asian immigrants, her mom was a nurse herself. Like many, Dow never thought of art as a viable career for a stable future. Plus, she loved practicing medicine and learning new things all the time, later finding a career in teaching it to others. She still teaches a weekly class to this day!

It wasn’t until 2002 that Dow really got serious about her art and started practicing with purpose. She made a book at this time and worked mostly by herself until she joined the SCBWI in 2011. The SCBWI is the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators with local chapters all over the U.S. After years of her own hard work, Dow realized that she needed a community just like this to help her get her stories into the world. It was here that Dow found critique groups, webinars, classes and local events, including connections to independent bookstores in the community!

Even now, Dow considers SCBWI the best money she ever spent. With the extra help and support of SCBWI, Dow was able to connect with her first literary agent at the end of 2015 and was signed for her illustration debut (Maya Lin (Christy Ottaviano Books; 2017) within the first few months! Dow hasn’t been able to sit still since, with 12 books already published and at least 5 more in the works.

These days, Dow keeps incredibly busy between creating stories, teaching and spending time with her family. If you want to feel just a hint of the enchantment that is Dow Phumiruk, you can visit the storytime room at Second Star to the Right, where Dow helped us start our Tree of Life by sketching it right on the wall! It is putting down firm roots and growing into a beautiful community. While you’re there, you can pick up any of Dow’s incredible books, including Hugsby, which is our staffs’ favorite!

You can follow @secondstartotheright and @artbydow to keep up on all of Dow’s latest adventures and upcoming events!

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