Mitra Modarressi was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration in 1989.
Mitra works primarily in watercolors. Describing her illustrations, Publishers Weekly says they "hint at the dreaminess of Modigliani and the cozy amiability of Ernest Shepard." She has written and illustrated seven books, including Yard Sale! which Publishers Weekly called "fun from start to finish," Stay Awake, Sally, Taking Care of Mama, and the upcoming 2012 spring release Owlet's First Flight. She has illustrated Tumble Tower and Timothy Tugbottom Says No!, both written by her mother, the novelist Anne Tyler, and Knead It, Punch It, Bake It! by Judith and Evan Jones. Mitra also does editorial illustrations, which have appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post and other publications.
Mitra lives in San Francisco with her husband and their two children.