PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — A Port Richey artist has turned her passion into another career.
Andrea Hiotis authors and illustrates children’s books that can now be found in local libraries and bookstores.
She says she has loved drawing her entire life, literally.
“There were these drawings on the side of my crib that I used to trace with my finger, my mother used to tell me,” Hiotis said.
Her Port Richey home is decked out with her artwork, from landscapes to portraits to greeting cards that she designs.
But there’s one thing she really enjoys creating — Children’s books.
“I’ve always wanted to do children’s books. I’ve always liked picture books. Something I’ve always had a passion for,” Hiotis said.
She’s even been able to channel that passion into a second career.
She’s now authored or illustrated dozens of children’s books.
“It started as a hobby. They started as gifts for my niece because I couldn’t afford to give her a big present,” Andrea said. “I’d send her the stories. And she would tell me that she loved them.”
Her family then convinced her she could make some extra money with her illustrations.
Now some of her books are available in local bookstores, online and in some Pasco County libraries.
“Every little bit, even 50 cents helps. If it’s a positive number, it helps,” Andrea said.
In her spare time at home, Andrea is one of nearly 8 percent of Americans now doing extra work. The census bureau has new data released this year that shows those numbers have gone up over the last 20 years.
But Andrea says she’s one of the lucky ones.
“If it’s your passion, you want to do it, too. It’s not a chore. You’re lucky. You have something that you want to do,” she said.
She’s hoping her books can help kids learn a few lessons, too.
You can find Andrea’s work at these places around New Port Richey:
- The Paperback Exchange Bookstore
- Chocolates By Michelle
- Regency Park Library