Nyob Zoo! (Hello!)
My name is Billy Thao and I am a Hmong illustrator based in the Twin Cities. Although I earned my degree in sociology and philosophy art never left my curious hands. Within 10 years, I researched, explored, and experimented with art; while, simultaneously, serving with AmeriCorps (Minnesota Reading Corps and Community Technology Empowerment Project) before committing to become a full-time visual artist and children's illustrator. My debut picture book, YANG WARRIORS, written by award-winning Hmong author, Kao Kalia Yang was published on April 2021 by University of Minnesota Press.
My love of children's illustration derived from my fascination with holding my first picture book, Arthur's Halloween, by Marc Brown, at the age of 6. I remembered, every night, turning the pages and living within each illustrations. I was not only intrigued with the illustration but how a simple story could bring such warmth into my heart. Now, as an adult, revisiting my favorite classics, such as, THE POLAR EXPRESS, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE, I travel on a nostalgic adventure back into the memories of the little, chubby boy who sat at the corner of the library and quietly participating within the fantastical stories of childhood.
When I am not illustrating, I spend my time caring for my brother, Raymond, catch up on books, or take a stroll outdoor and seek inspirations. OR...I like to create adventurous and imaginative stories within my childlike brain.