Hello, and welcome to our second interview! We recently had the honour of collaborating with Meyoco, an incredible artist from Indonesia. Having been fans of hers since 2016, her artwork on our Medium Book covers is something we’re pinching ourselves a little to make sure is real.
The launch was the perfect time to ask Inka about her inspirations, favourite mediums, and the covers she illustrated for us. We thoroughly enjoyed her answers, and we think you will too.
What/who/where do you draw inspiration from the most? Do you have a muse of sorts?
My number one rule is to always draw things that I like. Lately, my favorite thing is drinks, be it their packaging, the content, the colors, etc. When I feel like I don’t quite know what to draw, I love to look at pictures of various drinks and usually they would give me ideas of what to draw next. I also love looking at dessert photos for inspiration!
What mediums do you prefer to use, and what is the best and most challenging part about working with these particular mediums?
My preferred medium is digital media, as I mainly use Photoshop. My favorite thing about using digital media is how easy it is for me to find and use the colors that I like.
With traditional media (I used to use watercolors a lot) it’s not quite as easy, and my color choices were often limited by both my own skills and the paints that I have. It’s also easier for to make very clean artworks using Photoshop.
The most challenging part about working digitally is perhaps the fact that I still love working using pen and paper. Although I love doing line art digitally, my lines are not quite as expressive when I’m using Photoshop.
What do you think about Mossery collaborating with illustrators, designers, and artists such as yourself to produce cover designs?
I think it’s a really cool thing to do! I’ve always loved how Mossery collaborates with artists in various ways (such as promotions and Inktober). I’m happy the brand also works with artists to create products, and that I get to work with them.
Tell us about your creative process.
I feel that my creative process is very simple and not quite as detailed as other artists. Most of the time, I start by deciding on certain objects or subjects that I like to draw, like drinks, cats, etc. My favorite thing to do is to combine my favorite objects in various ways; tiny birds and teas, soda cans and clouds, game consoles and flowers...
To find new ideas, I like to just randomly browse through Tumblr and try to find new combinations of things to draw. When I finally find a combination that I think is good, usually I will already have a very detailed/specific image in mind. After that, the drawing process will be fairly quick as I never do thumbnails first. I just make a rough sketch, then continue to line art and colors.
Do you believe in talent? Why, or why not?
I don’t quite believe in talent. I believe that some people may have certain predispositions and conditions that make them good at art. I don’t think there’s something like “this person is born with the talent to draw”, but I believe perhaps an artist has the predisposition to perceive and observe things around them in a certain way that makes it easier for them to learn art.
Perhaps their motor skills are slightly better in terms of doing small movements like writing or drawing. Perhaps their environment (family, school) gives them better access to learning art.
Either way, I believe art (not just drawing) is a very complex skill, which is why there’s no such thing as one specific “talent” for it. It’s a combination of many things at once.
We really love the gracefulness of the flamingos and how you’ve combined them with florals – hiding them in plain sight, almost. What was the most challenging part of the process for this design?
For me, the most challenging part was coming up with the idea. The sketching, lining, and coloring process were relatively easy, but coming up with the idea was more challenging.
Just like how the florals are almost hiding in plain sight, good drawing ideas are often hiding in plain sight as well, which ironically does not make them any easier to find.
The cats cover has a humour about it that compliments your style of illustration wonderfully. We’ve noticed that you combine the two often; what draws you to adding humour to your work?
I think humour makes an artwork more interesting and an audience will engage more with the artwork as a result. Sometimes it’s not quite enough for an artwork to look beautiful, it has to be engaging as well. Humour is one way to make an artwork engaging, at least for my work.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Please don’t beat yourself up too much for not getting into an art school.” I used to really hate myself for choosing to study something unrelated to art, because I believed that to be able to make a living through art I would have to go to an art school. As it turns out, somehow I managed to find a way to support myself through my art regardless of my education.
If you’re given only one word to describe yourself, what word would it be and why?
I would describe myself as “anxious”! One of the most interesting experience for me is the fact that many people find my work relaxing, while I think of my whole creative process as anxiety-inducing.
While I know I don’t have it quite as bad as other people, sometimes I would grow very anxious over one line or part in my art that I accidentally forgot to color, or over how many likes my posts are getting.
When I’m anxious I force myself to draw even more, which usually does nothing to improve the quality of my art and in turn will make my anxiety worse. I still have trouble dealing with anxiety sometimes but I’m working on it!
Tell us a secret.
I used to really hate the color pink! Haha.
One of our dreams when starting a blog was to talk to creatives around the world, diving into the minds behind the beautiful artwork we see coming to life on our sketchbooks. We hope you’ll enjoy this series as much as we did working on it.
Here for the first instalment of our interview series is Angelyn Peh, a self-taught illustrator from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
When we first stumbled upon her Instagram account back in 2016, we were surprised to see someone using our planner and pocket notebooks as our customer base had been much smaller at the time.
We were enchanted by the intricacy of her artwork and the thought that went into each piece, so we reached out to her with one of our sketchbooks… and the rest is history.
Read more about her creative process and inspirations (both childhood and current) below.
Tell us, what / who do you draw inspiration from the most?
Books and music. Anything well-written. Other artists' work and the way they see the world. Rainy days. Bus rides in the afternoon. Dim lighting and long talks. Along with too many musicians, directors, artists, and authors to list, honestly.
Two that come to mind specifically: Lorde – emotionally mature, a master of self-expression, elegant, and a little strange. If rhythms and beats had a form, look no further than Lorde during her performances, a marionette jerked and jostled into movement purely by sound.
Ana Victoriana Calderón – an artist and illustrator with some of the most vibrant, magical, incredible watercolour works I've ever seen. I love her Skillshare classes. Her curiosity to learn more about and push the boundaries of her craft is infectious.
What mediums do you prefer to use and why?
Pencils and pens, because I love my lines, especially when it comes to portraiture. I used to be pretty into coloured pencils as well, the texture that you can get is beautiful.
Watercolours – even though I'm technically still new to this very iffy and time-consuming medium, I've found that brushstrokes have a wonderful, therapeutic feeling. Watching the paints mix in the water as well is mindfulness at its best, really.
How would you describe the Mossery Sketchbook to others?
Having come from a drawing background, sketchbooks I can paint in are still a novelty for me – so that's what I'd start with! The mixed media paper is versatile and can be used with a wide variety of mediums, so you can try new things and also revert to techniques you're already familiar with.
Finally, I'd end by talking about the lovely cover options and one of my favourite features: the name/quote personalisation. I normally choose a couple of words from favourite quotes of mine, so as to give the sketchbook a theme.
Tell us about your favorite place to find inspiration. Also, do you have a muse of sorts?
Instagram and Pinterest go without saying of course, as does travel. Movies, TV shows – anything with stories. Music – translating the auditory into a visual is always a welcome challenge. Other than that, my most reliable source of inspiration is books: as long as I'm reading, chances that I'll illustrate something are high. I am an artist because I am a reader.
Muses... I love the idea of that. I could name a lot of artists whose works I like, but when it comes to muses, there are a significant three who come to mind:
Pauline Baynes. She, along with Beatrix Potter, was one of my first introductions to art, and she set the foundation for literally everything art related for me. Her blend of movement and elegance is perfection, as is her attention to both detail and negative spacing. (There's a high chance I'll continue singing her praises in later questions, so moving on for now.)
Vincent van Gogh. His life, his art, his writing... There's nothing I can say about him that hasn't already been said. He knew how to see beauty in things so ordinary that others wouldn't even realise they were looking at them. He was an incredible man with an incredible soul, and I can only aspire to have half the amount of heart he had.
Lisbeth Zwerger. While having a different style from Pauline Baynes', she evokes a similar feeling in her art: whimsicality, soft but playful colour palettes, a sort of wistfulness. Her work should pass off as children's illustration at first glance, but there's so much depth to each piece that it hits like a punch in the heart instead. She's a master of imagery, and her lines are so fine they could be whispers. Her textures remind me of old book pages, or moth-eaten tissue paper.
Do you believe in talent?
I do believe that some people have a natural bent when it comes to art, but I also believe that anyone who puts their mind to it will pick up the skill sooner or later.
Talent is a great indicator of what you naturally gravitate to, but relying on it and buying into the idealism that naturally accompanies it can end up being a stumbling block: hard work (and a good dose of hard knocks) is what gets you to where you want to be.
You have a very strong sense of storytelling element in most, if not all of your works. And you have the tendency to couple words with illustrations. Why is that?
I feel like something's missing when I separate the two. With the words, I see colours and forms that aren't represented visually. With art, it would be a little... well, sacrilegious to leave out the syntax and flow of the words that inspired the visuals.
I know that a picture tells a thousand words, and to some extent that's true, but that sentiment lessens words in a way – words are their own very distinct form of beauty. They take a little more patience to appreciate, but once you really get into the act of reading, there's no limit to the things they prompt your mind to see.
At the risk of stating the obvious, it's entirely possible to paint with language; use the right words and syntax and you'll be amazed at the varying textures, tones, and even rhythms you can make just in a sentence.
Basically, my aim is to pay homage to both visuals and words as individual forms of art.
On that note, you also seem to be strongly inspired by Narnia. Tell us a little bit about that, and perhaps, some other books that have served as your main sources of inspirations in illustration.
It's difficult to articulate what drew me to Narnia in the first place, because I was a pretty dreamy kid who had strong intangible impressions of lots of things.
That in itself – my childish appreciation – is a big part of why I treasure those books; they represent a significant period in my life where I was discovering beauty, sadness, and ephemerality for the first time, and in a very pure way.
And of course, there were the stories themselves. Pauline Baynes' illustrations shaped both the way I saw the world and the way I created my own art, but they were all the more significant because of the words they were based on. (And considering that Baynes and C.S. Lewis didn't have the best working relationship, it's amazing that the artwork and the stories married the way they did. But I digress.)
Lewis knew how to make magic with few words: he wrote characters that leapt off the pages, created worlds while you watched in awe and tore them apart while your heart broke. To have discovered stories like this as a child is a privilege I don't take lightly.
Other books... There was a huge tome of illustrated Russian ballet tales and folklore borrowed from the library. And also a collection of illustrated abridged Shakespeare plays as a birthday gift when I was eight. And then I naturally flowed from Narnia to the Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings when I was nine or ten.
If Lewis watched over my childhood, Tolkien took over for my adolescence and teenage years and is still going strong now. It may sound dramatic, but I honestly cannot imagine what sort of person I'd be now if I had never read Tolkien's works.
These books were all illustrated, but their stories are what shaped me and instilled the need to translate my subconscious, abstract reactions into something visual – beauty, sadness, and ephemerality you could see.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don't take yourself so seriously. Have fun and make mistakes, what matters is that you came up with an imperfect result instead of holding on to an unachievable vision.
Don't try so hard to get it right or do the right thing all the time – best intentions aside, you will get things wrong. And that's fine. If you don't make mistakes, you'll never learn.
Last but not least, get out of your own way. I still need to repeat this to myself from time to time, to be honest.
If you’re given only one word to describe yourself, what word would it be and why?
Sincere. I'm driven nearly a hundred percent by sincerity. Whatever I do, it has to come from a place that's honest or at least emotionally resonant.
There've been a fair number of mixed results over the years (because I was sincerely wrong a lot), but it's a streak of my character I haven't been able to shake. Whether that's fortunate or not is something I have yet to find out.
Finally, tell us a secret.
I've always wanted to play in the string section of an orchestra for movie scores. (Preferably cello, although the double bass would be an interesting challenge.) Still do, actually.
–Find Angelyn and her beautiful works on Instagram at @angelynpeh.