Wonder is a South African artist who I met years ago when she was in Ireland staying with relatives here. It is very easy to get lost in Wonder's dreamy artworks. I love the combination of fine detail and explosions of texture and intrigue in her illustrations. Wonder has just graduated and is new to the art world, but if the work she has created so far is anything to go by I can't wait to see what her future holds!
1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?
I have just graduated from art school where I majored in printmaking and illustration, and am now working as a freelance illustrator in Cape Town, South Africa. I have been selling prints online and exhibiting my work around South Africa since the end of 2011, but now that I have finished my full time studies I can focus all of my energy on working as a full time artist and living my dream. Only really just starting out now I suppose.
2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas,techniques, etc.)
My work tends to revolve around ephemeral themes. I like to illustrate transient emotions, the intangible and ineffable concepts that I don’t quite understand, and my illustrations are personal explorations of these things. The process usually begins when I have an experience that stays with me or affects me in some way, or when I’m wrestling with some kind of emotion that needs to be exorcised onto paper. But its not always the case, sometimes I just like to illustrate silly thoughts.. I start out by experimenting with different techniques and mediums to get a kind of loose, organic pattern or texture, and then add detail with fine pens and colour with watercolour and ink. I really love doing fine line-work, but it can become a bit flat and monotonous, so I think that having loose, uncontrolled element in my work helps to balance out the heavy detail.
3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?
Self-doubt is always an obstacle. Art is such a subjective beast, and as an artist you are exposed to criticism (even if its yourself doing most of the criticizing!). It’s hard to stick to your guns and see an idea through, and it always feels like an achievement when I finish an artwork and its well received. Also not having access all the awesome equipment and materials I was using at University!
4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?
I’m inspired by song lyrics, nature and wild, untouched places. I love drawing creatures that feature in the folklores and fairy tales I grew up with, as well and discovering old myths, traditions, and superstitions that imbue certain animals with strange symbolism. Until hand rearing baby unicorns or commandeering pirate ships in far-flung lands becomes a viable option, this is all I could see myself doing and that serves as motivation to make it work. And there’s no overstating the importance of deadlines, without them I would probably only have half-finished pieces.
5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?
Being able to settle down in a quiet space with your favourite songs playing and a cup of tea by your side really is a lovely way to be able to ‘work’. It’s such a blessing to wake up every day and be able to do what you love. I also really appreciate the loose schedule that comes with being a freelance illustrator. I was home schooled as a child and have never quite got the hang of routine, so I love the flexibility that this line of work allows.
6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?
I have a healthy respect for writers and musicians. Painting pictures with words and music requires lots imagination and insight. I really admire Kiki Smith’s work, especially from 1999 onwards; she is such a phenomenal multi-media artist. I also love Mel Kadel’s work and her contemporary, neat use of watercolour. I take great comfort in the fact that she also only uses female characters!
7. Describe your creative space
I’ve just moved into a new apartment, so everything is in an advanced state of disarray at the moment! I enjoy working from home and have quite white walls littered with a few of my favourite illustrations, a big desk facing a window with a jumble of jars and ceramic vessels to hold my paintbrushes, pens, pencils etc.
8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Be hardworking and pursue your passion.