Duration: Two years. For the past year, I’ve been designing full time at sexual wellness company Dame Products while taking on various freelance illustration projects.
Location: Brooklyn, New York.
Education: BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Providence, Rhode Island.
Career path: After graduating from RISD in 2018, I bounced around food service, design and puppet fabrication gigs. Finally, I landed an internship at Dame Products last summer that turned into a full-time design position. We launched our sex and wellness blog Swell last year, and I began regularly making illustrations about women’s health, sex and relationships. It was from those illustrations that I began receiving e-mails from various editorial clients. I’m grateful that my day job includes visual storytelling and has led to many other projects!
For Dame, I make everything from packaging for vibrators to sex education graphics for its social media to editorial illustrations for Swell. As a freelancer, I’ve worked with clients such as the New York Times, Businessweek, Elemental and Pop-Up Magazine, illustrating diverse topics from llama antibodies curing COVID-19 to Japanese internment camps in the United States.
Artistic influences: My strength is in drawing objects, not spaces, so lately I’ve been looking at the work of food and prop stylists for inspiration on how to draw spatial relationships between objects. I also think my love of ceramics as a medium shows up in my work, specifically in the volume and weight of the figures I tend to draw. Beyond that, I’m always falling in love with magazines that have strong, exciting editorial design—like Gossamer, Club Sandwich and Apartamento to name a few—and listening to some disco or funk music from a time gone by.
Favorite work: My work with Pop-Up Magazine, a “live magazine” where storytellers tour around the United States performing on stage accompanied by curated animations and live music. I got to animate a piece by poet and writer Sarah Kay, who told the story of her Japanese grandmother’s internment in the United States in the 1940s. My grandmother and her family were interned as well during the same period of time. It was really beautiful to be a part of the Escape issue of Pop-Up, telling a story that is too familiar to too many people.
Work environment: Normally I work for Dame in a plant-filled, sunbathed office in Williamsburg, and create illustrations in my bedroom in Bushwick, surrounded by collections of comics and tiny toys. My new temporary work environment has been sitting at the kitchen table of my parents’ apartment in Boston.
Aspirations: On one hand, I want to continue simultaneously building my design and illustration careers, culminating in art directing for a publication or media outlet. I briefly managed all the freelance illustrators for Swell at Dame and loved collaborating with my peers to bring stories to life—and am itching to get back into that on a bigger scale. On the other hand, I want to live somewhere remote and throw ceramics, sew clothes, grow tomatoes, and get back into sculptural work and traditional illustration. It doesn’t have to be all or none, but I would genuinely be happy with either extreme. I’ll roll with the punches until then.
Approach: Some people may find this shocking or painful to hear, but I make all my illustrations on a trackpad. Every image I make uses hundreds of layers and thousands of clicks. I do have a tablet but can’t seem to break the habit when all the microactions allow for so much control.
Philosophy: When I was in school, I was often told to stop digging so many holes—puppetry, sculpture, animation, illustration and painting—and hone in on one skill to build a career. While my focus is on illustration, this skill is supplemented and fed by all my work in other media. It’s never a waste of time and often an essential exploration that will bring something novel to your focus. Switching it up keeps you constantly looking from different perspectives. Going back to animation brings movement to illustrations. Going from sculpture to design breathes in new life and dimensionality.
Anything else? I made a Western puppet show for my thesis in college. One day I’ll put on another puppet show.