Recent Dictionary Illustrations

I do freelance editorial work and illustrations for Oxford University Press (OUP), whom I was employed by back east through the  ’90s. Our US Dictionaries Department was closed after 9/11 and all employees but one were let go.  After an eight-year hiatus, I am fortunate to be working for them again.

OUP’s flagship American dictionary is the New Oxford American Dictionary, known as NOAD. I am proud to have contributed to the first edition (2001) as art editor, proofreader, and editorial assistant—now I’m excited to be a part of the third edition, available any day now.

They requested that the new illustrations represent the American southwest, a category that could be enlarged. I was more than happy to oblige. Above all else, dictionary illustrations must be accurate. For flexibility and forgiveness I use a .005 Micron drawing pen and an x-acto knife on coated stock. Here are a few samples…

Gambel’s quail by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press
Greater roadrunner by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press
Cholla cactus by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press

Cactus wren on cholla branch by Debra Argosy © 2010 Oxford University Press

9 responses to “Recent Dictionary Illustrations

  1. Hi Debra,

    your artwork and your way of writing are really stunning! I think, I like cactus wren most but the other birds are also cool! Keep on with your work!

    Best wishes.
    The Gedankenfalter

  2. Beautiful, exacting work, as always.

  3. Hmm. Illustrator as well as a writer. Why did they let people go after 9/11? OUP, that is? I’ve got some ideas, but why OUP? (E-mail:

    I like all your illustrations, but particular the cholla cactus.

  4. These are very cool! I never “met” any one who did dictionary illustrations before! Fine work!

  5. Not too many openings for it, I think. I was lucky. Thanks for writing!

  6. These are beautiful! 🙂

  7. Thank you Val, I love to do them and wish there was more work.

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