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Amy Ignatow ’02 is a Moore success story.
She was a struggling artist who became a published author through talent, hard work, and the inability to take “no” for an answer.
Ignatow, an Illustration alumna who lives in Mt. Airy, PA., is best known as the author and illustrator of the New York Times-reviewed children’s book series, The Popularity Papers.
Her first book in the seven-book series, The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang, was published by Amulet Books in 2010. A second and third book followed in 2011, a fourth in 2012 and a fifth and sixth book last year. The seventh and final book in the series is due out in September.
“I love doing this work so much,” she said. “I live in fear of not being able to do it. And I get tremendous publisher support. I want to keep doing this for the rest of my life. So I keep working very fast. If you wait too long between books and it’s a series, the kids might lose interest.”
The Popularity Papers are about two best friends, Lydia and Julie. The books begin when the characters are in the fifth grade and they have a year to go before starting middle school. They want to be popular and they observe the girls who are already popular and try to emulate them. Both characters keep a journal to document the process and “wackiness ensues,” Ignatow said.
“The story progresses from them being overly obsessed with popularity through middle school, where they gain survival skills,” she said. “The seventh book with be the end of seventh grade. It’s fun. I’ve gotten a lot of letters from kids who relate to the characters. It’s really about lifelong friendships.”
Ignatow joked that her next book title is just going to be “initials,” since each book in The Popularity Papers series has an extra long title. “We thought it was hilarious at the time but didn’t realize how much I’d be typing,” she said. “The main characters have an inflated sense of self.”
After graduating from Moore in 2002, Ignatow had numerous part-time teaching jobs and spent two years as a stationery designer. She taught cartooning and portfolio prep at Moore’s Young Artist Workshop and the Summer Art & Design Institute. She started an online cartoon called “Ig City,” a “humorous observational look at the day-to-day life of a 20-something recent graduate in Center City.” The cartoon got the attention of a literary agent, who asked Ignatow if she ever thought about writing for kids.
“I had been doing all this biographical stuff up to that point, but when the agent suggested writing for kids the ideas began to flow and I realized that’s where I’m most comfortable,” Ignatow said. She landed her first book deal in 2008.
Originally from Long Island, NY, Ignatow transferred to Moore from SUNY Oneonta. “Going to an all-women’s college was attractive to me because I wanted to feel comfortable doing my work without any drama or distractions,” she said. “The camaraderie I felt with my classmates still supports me, and it’s no wonder that The Popularity Papers is an ode to lasting female friendship.”
While at Moore, Ignatow helped produce the student-run publication now known as Moremagazine.
“My experience at Moore was incredibly positive,” she said. “I felt like I was supported by the faculty, who I’ve kept in touch with. When I got my first contract I went to them for advice.”
So what’s next for Ignatow? She’s contracted to complete The Popularity Papers and write two additional books in a brand new series.
“To be a working artist where I’m bringing in a real income on a regular basis doing exactly what I love and went to school for is incredibly satisfying,” she said.