Duration: Three years.
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Education: Bachelor of Design in illustration, Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCAD U), Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Career path: Initially I was a graphic design major at OCAD U and absolutely hated it. For the longest time, I thought that I’d become a graphic designer, but I realized I just wanted to draw. On a whim, I decided to minor in illustration, and a teacher later convinced me to switch my major. Upon completing my degree, I worked in retail and then part time at a branch of the Toronto Public Library. It took me a few years to develop my portfolio to a point where I felt I could work professionally—I definitely was not immediately successful after I left school! About three years after graduating, I quit my library job and became a full-time illustrator.
Cultural influences: I’m drawn to things with a surreal slant, like botanical illustrations and anything intricate and decorative, but I tend to look at photography for inspiration. Some of my favorite photographers are Robert Frank, Gordon Parks and Francesca Woodman. A few years ago, I wandered into a Woodman exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, without knowing anything about her. It was the first time I felt truly moved by an art museum exhibit.
Favorite project: My first book cover for Justin A. Reynolds’s novel, Opposite of Always. It was always a dream of mine to illustrate book covers, and seeing Opposite of Always circulating in the library where I used to work was such a great feeling. I’m grateful to Reynolds and the art director, Erin Fitzsimmons, for taking a chance on me!
Approach: Even though it may not be the most time-efficient method, I still use a combination of traditional and digital mediums to create my illustrations. I love the textures that watercolors can create and have never found a satisfactory way to replicate them digitally.
Aspirations: I would love to design a wallpaper someday, and maybe a fabric collection as well.
Philosophy: Stay curious, and always strive to improve yourself and your work. Value your peers and community. The friendships I have with my creative peers have been so incredibly important to me, and I don’t think I’d be where I am today without them.
Anything else: If my illustration career didn’t work out, I wanted to become an archivist for the Toronto Public Library.