Monika Filipina is a very talented new addition to our Plum Family- read about her life as an illustrator below!
Where do you live/work?
I live in my hometown Torun in Poland with my husband, son, and two cats in a loft apartment where I work in a small studio space on the attic.
What do you like about living there?
Torun is a lovely city with beautiful old town, where you can find lots of cafes and restaurants.
Our place is really charming too but gets super hot in the summer! I like working from home. I enjoy my studio space and the fact that I am free to start and finish work whenever I want to. It also means that I can wash the dishes and do the laundry while working (not really).
What do you love most about being an illustrator?
Everything. Ever since I can remember I loved to draw and dreamed that one day I will be able to make living out of it. I love drawing, painting, books and being surrounded by beautifully designed things. Being an illustrator means that I get to do what I love for most of the time. I can also do it wherever I want to. Sometimes we go away to the woods with my family for a couple of weeks and I am free to take my work with me there.
It also means that I can have huge children’s books collections with no shame.
How do you work – what are your techniques?
I usually use gouache paints and colour pencils, but I also love incorporating collage into my illustrations. I have recently started to work a little more in digital, but I still prefer raw, hands on techniques.
What is your favourite thing to draw and why?
Cats. They make fantastic models and every cat is such a character!
Do you have a particular favourite character that you’ve illustrated?
This changes, but that would definitely be an animal of some sort. I usually get attached to the character I work on at the particular moment. Currently my favourite is a little mouse.
What or who are you most inspired by?
I get inspired by many things - nature, animals, children, holidays, funny situations, books. I believe that everything in our every day life can be inspiring. When I feel that I particularly need some inspiration I like to take a break, go for a walk in the woods or coffee in the old town.
Do you have a favourite illustrator?
There is a few that I particularly like - Marta Altes, Oliver Jeffers, Beatrice Allemagna, Kate Hindley, Benjamin Chaud.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not illustrating?
I like yoga, fitness and reading books. On the weekends I enjoy traveling with my husband and son.
How did you get into illustration?
I always dreamed of being an artist. From a young age I took art classes and finished art high school, but instead of applying for University of Arts, I suddenly stopped believing that my dream would ever be possible. I tried to study Political Sciences and Polish philology which I both found extremely boring. I decided to go to Scotland to work over the summer. At the time I really missed art so after the summer, instead of going back home I went to college and took art classes. When I found out that in the UK it is possible to actually study ILLUSTRATION that was it! I knew I had to apply. I did not really believe in myself this time either so by the time I got my acceptance letter back I was already home! That meant, that once again I had to pack everything and move back to the UK. Right after my BA got my first illustration job and decided to take an MA course in Children’s Books Illustration in Cambridge.
What are your three top tips for aspiring illustrators?
Believe in your dreams, never give up and draw as much as possible.
What were your favourite books when you were younger?
I loved "Winnie the Pooh” and "Just so Stories”. I also grew up with Harry Potter and read every book a couple of times.
What was the last book you read? What did you think?
I am currently reading Jo Nesbo’s series about Harry Hole, the last book I finished was "Nemesis”. I loved it - I could read his books all the time and once I start I can’t stop!
What are your aspirations for the rest of 2018?
To complete the deadline and to do a little bit more travelling before the summer is gone!
What’s your ultimate dream?
I would love to move to a greek island and focus on working on my own picture books!