Frequently Asked Questions
People often contact me, asking questions or for an interview or an assignment they’re working on. I have included some of the main questions here for those times….
Q1. How did you first get into illustration?
It took me a long time to come to settle into the illustration world. I had studied at the NSW College Of Fine Arts (COFA), and my art practice at that time was gallery based and highly conceptual. Installations, film works, and interactive screen pieces. There was no place for illustration in the course I chose at that time. After the intensity of that time I took a break from my art practices for a long time, and got a “real” job.
After some years away, the urge to be creative came back once again very strongly. I knew I didn’t want to return to conceptual art, and fortunately for me that was the time when street art and online illustration was beginning to boom. I had always enjoyed drawing but I was out of practice. I joined an online illustration club called Illustration Friday, where you are challenged to interpret a single word into an illustration every week. I did this continually for a few years, (secretly at first because my drawing was so rusty). But after a year or so doing that my drawing had improved, I had tried out a few styles, and started to identify a “style” of my own.
Participating in Illustration Friday had also given me a huge portfolio of work. It took me a long time to learn to appreciate my own natural style of drawing, and not constantly compare my work to others. But now I had a body of work, and a style, and interest from galleries and clients. I quit my “real” job, and have been an illustration artist ever since.
Q2. How would you best describe your style of illustration?
It has evolved over the years. Originally my inspiration came from watching people on Sydney trains during my commute to and from work. So my drawings tended to be social comments. Then I sea-changed up the coast and my work changed a great deal, moving toward nature and embracing Native Australian flora and fauna. Then I had a baby, so now I notice my work is much more gentle and sweet than it has been in the past.
It’s hard for me to describe my style…. My works start out as large concepts coupled with a simplistic technique. Usually figurative. Line based drawing alongside more detailed realistic elements, with pockets of pattern. I like for my works to hold a heavy story in their fine lines and watery colours. A foundation of strong art technique, disguised in a naive style. For example, to play with or push the rules of scale and perspective, you need to know how to do it properly first, otherwise it ends up looking like you never knew to begin with.
Q3. Please take me through your design process, where do you start (i.e. do you use thumbnails, roughs etc)?
Please see my Process page for this answer.
Q4. Do you produce only hand generated illustrations or do you use mixed media to complete (i.e. photoshop etc to colour etc)?
I almost always do completely hand generated work. I use pencil, watercolour paint, pen and sometimes guage, almost always on paper. Though sometimes, (usually for corporate clients), I scan my work in separate drawn and painted layers, and composite those together in Photoshop. For those projects I may also tweak colours, and add new elements to the final piece using Photoshop.
Once I did a personal commission for someone, it had loads of text in it (like an old vintage movie poster). For that one I did the entire layout and design in Photoshop first, then printed it out, traced it onto paper and hand painted it.
Q5. Who or what are you influenced by?
Influenced by nature, personal interactions, and connections. Inspired by the work of many many others, including Ofra Amit, Sarah McNeil, Del Kathryn Barton, Carson Ellis, Lilly Piri, and the French Post-Impressionists.
Q.6 What inspires you?
Usually the urge to try something new.
For me, finding inspiration is as simple as looking. Really looking, and seeing. Taking notice of the small things that others may dash past. I used to find this inspiration by noticing certain people amongst the crowds on public transport in Sydney. Now it’s noticing a burst of colour in a bird on a branch, the colour the ocean turns in the afternoons in early Spring, or the roots of a tree carving through a lawn.
Q7. Do you have any comments on how technology has changed/influenced the way you create your designs?
I don’t think it has changed the way I work. I am very much attracted to the hand drawn aesthetic, so I intentionally steer clear of computer based work, I spent too much time at the computer anyway. However I will say I feel a certain security having the option to fix or tweak a work digitally afterwards if I stuff it up.
Q8. Can you tell me what your work space is like?
The biggest mess you’ve ever seen!
Although I have a beautiful studio space overlooking a bush reserve, which I share with my husband, I’m currently working from a spare room in our house (makes it easier to get work done while being a parent to a small child). Despite my best efforts to keep it tidy, it seems to end up quite the opposite. But I do keep it somewhat organized, so I at least know where things are kept.
Q9. What impact do you think your artwork has on people?
I know my artwork is not everyone’s cup of tea. But when you come across people who like it, it’s very rewarding. Some people seem to enjoy the sense of fun in my work. Other people look longer and closer and find the sentiment in it, and I’ve seen people well with tears when looking at some of my artworks. That is a very special moment.
Q10. What do you like about being a creative in Australia? What are the challenges?
I think I would still be inspired by nature anywhere in the world, but we really are spoilt for choice here in Australia. I often spend hours trawling the internet looking at photo’s of Australian creatures I’ve never even heard of before. There are so many, and most of them (despite the stereotypes of killer spiders, sharks and snakes) are really cute. Have you ever seen a dunnart? A striped possum? Or a spotted quoll?
The most challenging thing is the expense of having an exhibition in Australia.
Q11. What keeps you motivated when things are tough?
Knowing it will pass. The constant urge to get better at what I do. Knowing I can’t stop now. Seeing the amazing work other artists make. Not being able to think of any other job I’d rather be doing.
If I have not answered your question here please feel free to contact me.