Friday, 30 June 2017

5 Minutes with... Angela Navarra

Today we're very excited to be catching up with one of our newest PP (and Plum Licensing!) artists Angela Navarra, from her home in New Jersey! We discuss her top three tips for aspiring illustrators, as well as sources of inspiration and her journey into illustration, so let's get to know a little more about Angela...

Where do you live/work?

I live and work in Weehawken, New Jersey. It’s a suburb of New York City. There are a lot of awesome restaurants, shops, and parks I can visit by foot. I can also easily hop on a bus and get to midtown Manhattan in 10 minutes (without traffic of course!).

What do you like about working there?

I enjoy having a home studio since I have access to tons of coffee and snacks and showering is optional :D I’ve created a world for myself that inspires and motivates me via the books and art that surround me. Also, my cats, Olly and Lola, along with my son, Maddox, all provide a fun soundtrack to my day!

What do you love most about being an illustrator?

It makes me really happy to create pieces based how I perceive them. I enjoy exaggerating certain things I find beautiful and fascinating about my subject matter. Maybe that seemingly black color is more of a deep purple, that letter “R” I illustrate could fill a whole page, or maybe creating an octopus that has 12 arms instead of 8 because who wouldn’t want an extra 4 arms?!

How do you work – what are your techniques?

I start off researching - Looking through old books and magazines. Even though I’ve had my books for years, I still see something new every time! Every project offers an opportunity to look through a different lens. Next, I sketch away on loose paper to work out my composition and to explore. Whatever sketch is chosen by the client, I then scan and turn it into vector art. Finally, I create textures with acrylic paint, pastel, and fabric scraps to overlay onto my illustration.

What is your favourite thing to draw and why? 

I love drawing anything involving sea life. The ocean is so fascinating to me and it’s fun to imagine what else can be in this world that covers 70% of our planet. It dictates so much in our lives and yet 95% of this world has been unseen by human eyes. It’s so mystical! PLUS, my family and I would spend a lot of our summers on the beach when I was a kid. It was a time that my family was the happiest.

What or who are you most inspired by? 

I love the old greats like Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Massin, and Paul Rand. They were a part of a time that illustration and design were one and I love seeing such amazing composition and illustration created by one artist. Also, lettering ladies such as Jessica Hische and Louise Fili make my heart pitter-patter. 

I also love old found objects. Every country I visit, I drag back little knick-knacks to litter my home with. It helps me remember how inspired I was when I visit a new country and experience their culture. OH and mid-century modern hotels! The details and signage that adorn these places - I just can’t get enough of it all!

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating? 

I’m always up for an adventure but my faves are travelling, singing in cars, falling asleep when the tv is on, making vegan snacks and beauty products, visiting haunted houses, trying exotic foods, yoga, collecting knick-knacks, and spending time at home with my awesome husband, Dominic, our magical son, Maddox, and our two frisky cats, Olly and Lola.

 How did you get into illustration? 

I actually have a BFA in design but I always found myself illustrating typography and imagery to fulfill the compositions I envisioned. I remember a few of my interviews early on in my career when art directors would ask me the same question: “Are you an illustrator or a designer?” At first I would say designer since I have a degree in design but then after giving it some thought I would respond, “Why do I have to be one or the other? I’m both!” Then after replying that way so many times, I would be asked to illustrate things on the projects I was designing for. That turned into commissions solely for illustration work!

What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?

1. Share your work no matter what stage! This is something I have to tell myself constantly since I always want things to be “perfect.” We have so many avenues to share, and it’s great to see what people react to.

2. Allow yourself time to play! I’ve created a lot of ugly things and those ugly things helped me create the things I am the most proud of.

3. Get out there and look at anything, everything, and talk to anyone! I do this daily and you’d be surprised at what inspires my work. There is beauty everywhere and in everyone if you’re open to it, and I always try to be.

What were your favourite books when you were younger? 

I was a sucker for bright and flashy book covers (probably since I am a 1980s baby!). Wow, not so surprised I am a designer/illustrator, right? Books with unicorns, mermaids, and even licensed properties, such as “Jem and the Holograms” -  I was all over them like a wet t-shirt. However, when I got over the pure eye candy, I loved anything with a mystery involved such as “Road to Nowhere” by Christopher Pike. I read many of his books growing up and I also loved the classics like “Frankenstein”, “Of Mice and Men”, and “Gulliver’s Travels”.

What was the last book you read? What did you think? 

Honestly, in the past 15 months all I have read are books about babies and pregnancy! Oh, and “Kick Litter”! A book on toilet training your cat! So, technically, the last book I finished reading is “The Happy Sleeper.” This book helped me sleep train my now 5.5 month old. Human sleep is a fascinating subject and it really went into depth on infant sleep cycles, when babies start sleeping through the night, and techniques on how to sleep train. It has been a god send! We are all sleeping a bit more thanks to Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright!

What are your aspirations for the rest of the year? 

To balance my work and family life. My career and family are super important to me and I hope to juggle things better and better! To also dedicate more time to my stationery company, Doo Daa Studio.

What’s your ultimate dream? 

To sell everything I own and move into a tiny house or boat and live everywhere and anywhere. To explore and create in a new setting weekly and allow myself to be inspired by my surroundings.

We really hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Angela! You can see more of her work on her PP folio page here and can view her licensing work on her Plum Licensing page here!

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