Tell us a little bit about what you do.
I am working to become an illustrator and I also run a small business on the side primarily focusing on turning my illustrations into different merchandise.
How did you end up starting your online shop? Was there a specific moment that you decided to do this?
I decided that I didn’t want to follow the same career path that I had been doing for the past 5 years, and wanted to focus on my art.
What is your favorite part about the creative work that you do?
Drawing animals and connecting with people!
I see on your website that you’ve lived in New Zealand & now live in Gainesville, FL. What are some of your favorite things about those places? Have they influenced your creative work in any way?
Both places have very unique wildlife, and that has definitely reflected in my illustrations. New Zealand has rolling hills, flightless birds, and no snakes. Gainesville has gorgeous swamps and prairies, and suburban birds of prey, which was completely new to me when we first moved to Gainesville, and still stops me in my tracks when one of them flies overhead, screeching!
A lot of your designs are about animals & nature. What are some of your favorite animals or plants to include in your work, & why? Do your dog & cat influence your art?
I like to highlight animals that may not necessarily be overly popular, such as aardvarks, frilled-neck lizards, and the aye-aye. I also like to share animals that are endemic to places that I have lived in, so I have illustrated a few New Zealand animals, a couple of animals found in Florida, and also Malaysia, the country in which I was born. I definitely also have designed merchandise that are inspired by my cat and dog!
Who are some of your biggest creative inspirations & why?
I draw my inspiration from exploring nature, so I like going on hikes and bush walks, encountering new animals etc. I also love traditional tattoos and Chinese art, and looking through art history books. Currently I follow many different designers on social media, including but not limited to; Phoebe Wahl, Pippa Dyrlaga, Sue Van Gageldonk, Becca Jane Koehler, Victoria Astrom, Lili Arnold, Susanne Suflanda Konig, Yumiko Higuchi, Gunnar Freyr, Bao Pham, Sarah Walsh, and Hilary Jane tattoos.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started? What’s your best advice for someone who’s just getting started with doing what you do?
Draw everyday, even if you don’t think it’s a good idea, or if it’s not executed to the standard that you had originally envisioned. Just put it down.
What kinds of things helped you build a customer base when you were first starting out?
Posting on social media frequently, connecting with other designers within the same community.
Do you have a specific process for creating new designs? What are some of your favorite art materials to use in your art?
I usually play around with ideas and poses of different animals, either sketches on paper or drawing directly on my tablet that’s connected to my laptop. I love acrylic and watercolor, and I also love trying out different pens! Once I settle on a design, I clean it up as a vector image and finalize from there.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t give up.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? Does any apect of it relate to what you do now?
I wanted to be a marine biologist, then I wanted to be a comic artist, and then I wanted to be a translator and travel the world. I’m sort of weirdly in between everything now; I am still connected to animals and nature, I am working towards illustration as a career, and I love to travel when I can (although the translating part has definitely fallen short!!)
What’s your favorite type of product to make & why?
I love designing fabric patterns and sewing; surface pattern design is quite challenging for me because I have to focus on interesting details and subsequently making a pattern that works on a larger scale when repeated across a yard. Having that come together, as well as holding a finished product in my hand after sewing it, are both rewarding.
What has been your biggest challenge or setback, & how did you handle it? How did it help your business more better?
I didn’t have a background in illustration or design, so everything I have learned thus far in terms of the softwares used to create my art has either been self-taught, or from helpful advice from some very important people in my life. I feel like I am constantly playing catch up, while still needing to produce something tangible to keep my business going.
What’s something about you or your creative work that most people don’t know but you wish they did?
I’d like to think that I’m an open book 🙂
The cats you draw are so cute & funny. How do you come up with what they should be doing/wearing in your designs?
Most of the time it’s from seeing something my cat and other cats do something funny first hand, and I put it down on paper (like the pin of the naughty cat swatting at houseplants). Other times, I shamefully follow popular trends like pizzas and cats.
Why do you do what you do? What drives you to be successful/keeps you interested in what you do?
As mentioned above, I wanted to pursue a different career, and I hope that my art will bring a little bit of joy in people’s lives.
What’s your favorite quote, & how does it relate to or inspire you & your approach to your business?
I do not have a favorite quote.
What are some of your biggest goals for the year ahead?
On a personal level; take illustration courses to bolster my knowledge, and explore my art style. I believe art should be constantly evolving. On a business level; expand into different product lines.
What are some of your longer-term goals?
It would be pretty cool to work for/with a museum and non-profit organizations to illustrate for them, but that’s pretty wishful thinking right now. Something hopefully to work towards.