Artist Interview with Essi Kimpimäki from Essi Illustration

I am excited to introduce everyone to Essi Kimpimäki from South-East Finland! Essi’s shop, Essi Illustration, is the perfect place to find colorful art prints and gifts – please feel free to take a look. You can also find Essi’s work on her artist website, and you can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art? What is life like in Finland?

I am a freelance illustrator, originally from Finland but I’ve been living in Scotland for the past 10 years. Drawing was always my favourite thing to do as a kid, and I can’t remember ever seriously considering of studying anything else than art. To be honest, I never thought I would actually make a living out of it but wanted to give it a go anyway, and so far it has worked out alright!

I moved to Glasgow to study at the Glasgow School of Art, and graduated with a degree in Illustration in 2011. The year after graduating was a bit hard, the difference between the art school and the real world was so drastic, I didn’t really know how to get commissions and how to in general start pursuing a freelance illustrator career. I ended up doing other random jobs, travelling, and eventually even went to study graphic design as I thought it would be easier to find work as a graphic designer. However, studying graphic design made me realize very fast that my passion lies in illustration, and that it really was all I wanted to do. So I dropped out after one year, and started working on my illustration career with a new motivation, and am still on that path!

So many of your pieces seem inspired by faraway places. What is the thought process and creative process like for these?

Yes! It really is one of my all time favourite themes to draw. The world is so full of magical, interesting places and cultures, so many countries that I want to visit – I know I probably won’t be able to see them all in real life, but on some level illustrating them can take me there. It can start from seeing a documentary, a photograph, hearing a song. It can also be a place I’ve visited myself, a feel of a location that I want to remember. I do some research, which can be reading about related topics, and of course looking at a lot of pictures. But I don’t want to replicate existing places exactly the way they are, my goal is to recreate the atmosphere of the location, to hopefully make the viewer be able to imagine how the place would feel (or to take them back there, if they’ve visited).

I do a lot of sketches of existing places, and then try to create my own scene from those. I also pay a lot of attention to colour, as I think every place has its own unique colour palette so getting the colours right can really help you to feel the place.

What has been one of your favorite projects or prints that you’ve worked on?

There’s been a lot of fun ones, but for some reason I’m now thinking about a project I did for my degree show years ago. I did a series of four screenprints called Sacred Animals, in which I looked at different cultures and their relationships with animals, and picked four interesting ones for my project. I had for example the royal white elephant of Thailand, where they are sacred and a symbol of royal power, and all those discovered belong to the king. It was the hectic final year of art school, but I got really into the research and loved reading and finding out more about the different customs and cultures. It combined my two favourite things, making images and learning about different cultures, and I guess that is why it still remains as one of my favourite projects ever. Which actually makes me think that I should do more of those!

Do you listen to music while you create – if so what are some of your current favorite artists or songs?

I usually do like to have something on in the background. But when I’m reading a brief, doing research or trying to solve a problem (composition, colours, whatever), i.e. having to actually use my brain, I might often work in total silence, or just have something very chill and unnoticeable music on. My recent favourite has been this lofi hip hop radio on YouTube, very chill and nondistracting. Too fast or crazy music will make me anxious and unable to concentrate!

Once I’m over the thinking part, I like to listen to podcasts, Radiotopia has some great ones, really love Strangers and Mortified and Criminal, then of course Serial was great as well as S-Town.. and plenty of others! And sometimes I like to watch documentaries or series on Netflix.

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Artist Interview with Kathy Crabbe | Spirit Animals

It’s my pleasure to introduce artist Kathy Crabbe! During this interview, Kathy will speak directly about her Spirit Animal series and her artistic process. Make sure to show her some support by visiting her website and following her on Instagram @kathycrabbeart and Facebook.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey with art?  

I am a self taught painter since knee high to a grasshopper (love that saying!). I was always an artist and decided at a young age that I didn’t want to go to a fine art school because I had a style all my own and I didn’t want anyone messing with that since I tend to be easily influenced. I always wanted to attend both university and college and I’ve done that. I have an Art History degree and a 3 year diploma in Graphic Design. I moved to the States after falling in love with my husband-to-be and he convinced me I could live my passion and be an artist full time so we moved to Laguna Beach and I started doing the Sawdust Art Festival; a 2 month art fair where you build a booth and sell your wares 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. That was amazing! After 7 years we moved to the quiet countryside outside of Temecula Wine Country and I was pretty much a hermit for many years which allowed me to delve into the spiritual side of things which has found its way into my art, of course! I paint magical, shamanic beings, nature and animals because they surround me and I’m one of them.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your Spirit Animal paintings? Does storytelling and narrative play into them?

I live in 2 countries; my home country of Canada (Ontario) and my adopted country, the USA (California) and both homes are on dirt roads surrounded by nature; one is in the forest on a lake and the other is in a desert valley surrounded by ancient oaks, cactus and an elfin forest so I’ve got plenty of nature and wild creatures to inspire me on a daily basis. I’m also a Celtic Faerie Shaman and my spirituality is a huge part of my life. My pets are also an inspiration. All of my Spirit Animal paintings would not be complete without the poem that bubbles forth in one quick stream of consciousness right after I finish the painting. Usually it’s late so I light some candles, take off my glasses and let the words pour forth. Originally I started out trying to describe the painting but that quickly morphed into poetry; my favorite mode of expression. The poems speak of the power and guidance we can draw upon from our animal guides and what their message is for us. The wild creatures are our teachers. They help us remember our wild self and are vitally important for our well being and our healing.

Can you tell me a little bit about your painting process and favorite materials? 

My current series of Spirit Animal paintings were initially inspired after I purchased a small pad of 6×6 inch Montreal made watercolor paper in Kingston, Ontario (where I was born). I sat down with that pad of paper surrounded by the sounds of the forest and the water and immediately painted a cat woman with watercolor. That was in the summer of 2016 and I haven’t stopped since. I start with the face using my non dominant left hand because it’s my emotional, intuitive hand. I draw with a large soft piece of lead and the elfin figure that emerges tells me what kind of spirit animal belongs with her. I paint with watercolor and gouache and occasionally acrylic. I especially love Winsor Newton Series 7 brushes, M. Graham and Schminke gouache and Daniel Smith iridescent watercolors.

What has been your favorite achievement or project thus far? Do you have anything new and exciting on the horizon? 

In regards to the Spirit Animal series, I am very proud that I paint them every single day and that I write a poem for each one. I share this on Instagram @kathycrabbeart. On the horizon I look forward to spending more time in the forest with the wild creatures and traveling and hiking more; there are so many wild places to see in this great North American land of ours. I also hope the Spirit Animals will continue to grace more gallery walls with their healing, magical presence.

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Interview with Russian Artist Anastasia Cherepneva: Inspired By Nature

Today’s interview features Russian artist Anastasia Cherepneva, who lives in Moscow and primarily sells on Redbubble, Shutterstock, and does freelance work for Russian publishers and universities.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your development into a graphic artist and illustrator, and where you draw your inspiration from?

I’m an illustrator and graphic designer. Sometimes I sew, knit or felt toys and make dolls. I like to travel and draw northern nature. I used to draw and create things since my childhood. I attended art school, but later decided to be an engineer. I graduated technical university, but didn’t stop drawing. I can’t imagine my life without creation, so I attended some art courses and now work for different freelance projects connected with education. I draw my inspiration from nature: I like to travel, walk in the forest, visit botanical gardens and observe animals and birds.

 

What does the process look like for creating your nature illustrations?

When it’s possible I prefer to work in the open air, not in studio. I like daylight for watercolor works, so most of my works were made during my travels.

Are you working on any new and exciting projects (or have you, recently)? What have been some of your favorite freelance gigs?

 I’ve just finished big project that I’ve been working on for half a year. It’s a handmade book about travelling to Svalbard (Spitsbergen, Norway) last year. I think some of illustrations from it soon will appear on Redbubble.

What has your experience been like selling on Redbubble? Do you sell your work on any other platforms?

Selling on Redbubble is great thing. It was my dream to make something useful out of my drawings: postcards, bags, pillows, etc.  I’m so happy that I can realize my dream on Redbubble. I also try to sell my work on Pinkbus.ru, a Russian print shop.

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Do you listen to music while you create, and if so, what are some of your current favorites songs/artists?

I’m not used to listening to music when I draw, but for inspiration I listen to folk or rock music.
My favourite band is “Orgia Pravednikov“, a Russian folk-rock musical group.

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Don’t forget to check out Stacy’s website and subscribe to The Art Spectrum for more artist interviews!

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From New Zealand to Isreal: An Interview With Artist Emily Penso

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I am honored to introduce the wonderful artist Emily Penso, who has a quite interesting life story! Emily sells her surreal and whimsical artwork in her Etsy shop, Studio Lavaan, and excitedly agreed to be interviewed on the blog!

  • Can you just tell me a little about yourself; where did you grow up, go to school, what are you up to now?

I was lucky enough to grow up in New Zealand, in the South Island city of Dunedin. It was a wonderful place to grow up and although it’s quite a cold part of the world, most of my childhood memories involve sunshine and bare feet.

I am the middle of three children, with two wonderfully loving and supportive parents  who shaped our world with a comfortable home, a love of the outdoors and an appreciation of the arts – I remember many a boring gallery trip! But although at the time I would have preferred to be playing with Barbie or some other weird toy, there was always at least one art work that would completely mesmerize me.  

 During my high school years (sweet 16) my Dad landed a job in Canberra, Australia. So my small world got bigger and we moved across the Tasman. It was a tough move for me, but character building, and definitely helped guide me into pursuing art.  I ended up studying painting at the Canberra School of Art which was just awesome and completely changed my life.  
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Now, curiously, I find myself living in Israel (which is another epic tale, but involves meeting a beautiful Israeli in India and marrying him in Cyprus). We live in a lovely village on a hill with our two completely gorgeous boys, and a white cat and a black dog. We have a small olive grove which we use for making oil, a small studio which I use for making art, and lots of little vegetable gardens. It suits us well. 

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  • Your work is so surreal and whimsical, where did the inspiration for these types of works come from? Is there anything else that inspires you, just in general?

I guess my mind has always been a bit of a peculiar place, and for as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by things that are out of the ordinary. My earliest surrealist influence almost certainly came from Rene Magritte.  My parents had a book on Magritte and throughout my childhood I loved pawing through the pages. It was entertainment that never got old, no matter how old I got, and every time I looked I would discover something new.

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Another big influence would be dreams. I am a serious dreamer – day dreams and night dreams – but I am particularly inspired by night dreams as they are totally wild, complete raw sub-consciousness, and always purely surreal.  

The world around me is also a major source of inspiration; Birds, insects, trees, people, land forms, and the interactions between everything that exists – I am constantly in awe of this world we live in. It never gets boring! It is a mysterious moving masterpiece that I love being a part of. This spiritual connection that I have with life is also a bit of an influence. It is much easier for me to articulate what it is that I feel spiritually through drawing than words.

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  •  A lot of your work looks like it has been sparked by unique ideas. What have been some your favorite ideas to explore with your art?  

  “You know, most of the time my work starts as a visual idea rather than a concept that I want to communicate (consciously anyway) but always through the process of making the work I begin to understand the symbolism of what I am drawing and mostly it’s personal feelings, thoughts, experiences. I approach my work with intuition, but execute it in a very precise way! Some of my favorite visual themes have been playing with scale relationships between figures, mirroring birds, and using clouds as a very deliberate compositional device (with meaning!)

Clouds have been popping up a lot lately and they are beginning to take the centre stage. I love clouds.

  •  Do you have any advice to artists or future artists on how to promote their work or how to approach getting their work out there? Advice in general?
 I think not being afraid of self-promotion is something that many artists need to overcome, and is definitely something that I have struggled with, and still struggle with to a degree. I guess I would advise emerging artists to think about what it is they want out of their art practice and use that goal to guide them in how they promote their work.
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In general, to get your work out there… approach galleries, apply for exhibitions, get help with submitting great proposals if necessary, collaborate with other artists, get involved in open group shows, exhibit as often as you can, enter art competitions, get the social media happening, create a website, open an Etsy store, take all the steps that you think are important for you as an artist. And of course…don’t let knock backs get you down, because they will happen, and great things will also happen!
  • Do you do anything fun/interesting in your free time? Any favorite hobbies or weekend activities?  

Wow, free time is something that is completely foreign to me! My little boys keep me very busy! But, I do manage to squeeze in a little bit of yoga and any chance I get I am in the garden.  In my down time I have been known to play ‘words with friends’ on my phone ( I’m mildly addicted). If I had more free time I would love to make pebble mosaic stepping stones, sew stuff ,and I’d also restore all the shabby vintage furniture that I have collected.

When my boys are all grown up I would like to do my masters, it’s a nice dream, and I’d love to learn more skills, like basket weaving and everything to do with textiles.

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You can also find Emily on her Facebook Fanpage: Emily Penso Fanpage 

And her website: emilypenso.com

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