ARTivist Nikkolas Smith to open AASL National Conference

For Immediate Release
Mon, 05/01/2023


Allison Cline

Deputy Executive Director



CHICAGO – Nikkolas Smith, ARTivist, Concept artist, Children's Books Author, and Film Illustrator, will keynote the opening general session of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference. The conference will be held Oct. 19-21, in Tampa, Florida. Full conference details can be found at

Smith shares, "I’ve always loved making art, and always had a desire to help my community thrive. It started as art-as-therapy, but it became a way for me to paint the world I had always wanted to see, to not only see the broken bones of the world, but also find a way to fix them. I realized that is when my Art became Artivism. When one of my illustrations went viral and people began sharing it on signs all around the globe, I realized how connected we all are, and how powerfully art can inspire us to create a more fair and just society. I truly believe that each and every one of us is full of creativity. It is up to us to use those talents to call out what is broken and visualize a path forward that allows for true healing, equity, and inclusion."

As an illustrator of color, Nikkolas is focused on creating captivating art that can spark important conversations in today's world and inspire meaningful change. Many of his viral and globally published sketches are included in his book Sunday Sketch: The Art of Nikkolas.

Conference co-chair, Paige Battle, said, “Nikkolas is an artist whose work embodies both joyous and poignant cultural moments - capturing the times we are living through and, in his words, helping ‘people wake up and make change happen faster by getting them to take the time to put themselves in other people's shoes.’ I look forward to hearing him speak on the transformative power of Artivism to make positive change in the world.”

Nikkolas Smith is an Artivist, children's book author, and Hollywood film illustrator. He is the author/illustrator of the upcoming The Artivist, the NAACP Image Award nominated The Golden Girls of Rio, and My Hair Is Poofy And That's Okay, and the illustrator for the #1 NYT Bestselller The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, I Am Ruby Bridges, Black Panther Wakanda Forever: The Courage To Dream and That Flag. Born in Houston, Texas, Nikkolas lives in Los Angeles, California.

“I listened to an NPR report that said Nikkolas has the ability to combine art and activism into a singular superpower and it is so true” said conference co-chair, Amanda Jones. “I think many school librarians, as well as our students, need to learn how to process everything that is happening in the current climate and his Artivism is the exact inspiration we need. I am thrilled that we will have the opportunity to hear him speak in person at AASL23.”

The AASL National Conference is the only national conference dedicated solely to the needs of school librarians and their roles as educational leaders. A one-of-a-kind conference, the 2023 AASL National Conference will feature daily keynotes, more than 150 concurrent sessions, author panels, research into practice sessions, more than 150 exhibitors, the best practice IdeaLab, author signings, and endless networking opportunities. Content provided at the conference will be rooted in AASL's National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries.

The American Association of School Librarians,, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), empowers leaders to transform teaching and learning.