The first illustrated Anansi storybook was by Pamela   
Coleman Smith, published in 1899. It was titled "Annancy  
Stories". She was born in London, England to an American
merchant, Charles Edward Smith from Brooklyn, NY and a
Jamaican mother, Corinne Coleman.  The family moved to
Jamaica where her father was employed by the colonial
government to help to build the island's railroad. This is
where she became more acquainted with her island's strong
tradition of Anansi storytelling. Pamela heard Anansi stories
from her Jamaican nurse, often one of a local child's earliest
confidants. She attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York
from 1893 to 1897 where she honed her skills as an
illustrator. A socially connected artist, she is best known for
designing the Rider-Waite-Smith deck of divinatory
for Arthur Edward Waite.

In the early 1920's American folklorist Martha Warren
Beckwith collected and published an impressive number of
similar Anansi stories told to her by various informants from
many locations in the island. These stories are printed in the
variety of Jamaican vernacular of that period.
Print this and...
(For all ages)
Paper, #2 pencil, black (fine or medium) marker, color markers (or crayons, or color
pencils), and a mirror.

However, before drawing Anansi you may first need a
Copyright 2007 by Michael Auld
Drawing Anansi
For centuries artists have drawn images of Anansi  
the Spider. There are as many versions of the
spider-man as there are books about him.

There is even a traditional Anansi Ghanaian hair
style that his wife Aso wears
I created my first drawing of Anansi for an illustration
class at Howard University in school year 1965-1966.
My Anansi came from two sources. First,
I was born
in Jamaica where my childhood was steeped in
Anansi stories. Second, my introduction to African art
at Howard's College of Fine Arts by Prof. James A.
Porter allowed me to create a character that was
based on traditional aesthetics.
1971: The First Anansi Comic Strip
(a) [1- 8] Use a pencil to draw Anansi. [9] Trace over the lines with a medium or fine black
marker. After the black marker lines dry, carefully erase the pencil lines. You may color Anansi
with color markers, crayon or color pencils. Markers are vivid and fresh. Crayons are as old as
cave paintings. Color pencils allow subtle shading techniques.

(b) Artists must learn to be observant! Look in a mirror to see what happens to your face when
you make different facial expressions.

(c) Practice drawing different Anansi faces with a pencil. Combine a variety of eyes and mouth
shapes and try to identify the expression. For example, instead of arcs for eyebrows, draw a
wide capital “W” between the eyes. Then, draw the line for the mouth arced down at the
corners. This expresses “sadness” or “anger”. (If, instead, you draw the line for the mouth
arced up at the corners, this shape of the mouth expresses “determination”, “malice” or
Above: Pamela Coleman Smith
Left: Her Annancy illustration
Page refreshed in January, 2011
Aso (in her Anansi hair  
style)with their son