You recently moved to New York City from Baltimore and from Ohio before that. What has surprised you (or not surprised you) about the Northeast?
I've lived in and traveled to so many places during my lifetime, that I feel quite at home almost anywhere. I love walking and taking trains, so I feel more comfortable living in a place where one doesn't need a car to get around - which is why I can't live in Cleveland, even though I love it there - so New York is my kind of place in that sense. But I never dreamed of it and it's not my final destination, just a stop along the way on my search for a city that will one day truly feel like home.
This series depicts very sweet interiors of rooms in a house. What do you make of the popularity of everyday scenes in illustration?
I think it's wonderful that there are so many depictions of everyday life; especially for people who spend a lot of time working at home, ordinary objects become sources of comfort and a kind of quiet friendship. And I admire those illustrators who can capture the emotional complexity of scenes from everyday life with concise and elegant simplicity.
Tell us about the little elephant.
Symbolically, he's been with me for about 7 years. A reflection of my inner state, imaginary friend, dream pet. If I could have any pet in the world, a cat-sized elephant would be it. Elephants are perceptive, empathetic creatures, and much more complex than we'll ever know. When I come across any, I consider it a sign that something magical will happen soon, and when I find very special ones, I take them home.
How much of what you draw is from real life? Do you draw your own home but prettier?
I incorporate small trinkets and details from my real home, but I tend to draw more "special" furniture. In real life, I live with simple IKEA furniture, which I don't think would translate in an interesting way to my drawing style. Conversely, the furniture that I do choose to put into my imaginary interiors is not necessarily something I would want in my own home. I like my real-life furniture to be just a simple, silent background, with not much history or personality, against which to showcase all of my special things.
What kind of sources do you pull inspiration from?
I pull emotional inspiration from books. My favorite writer is Haruki Murakami and I also love Banana Yoshimoto and Milan Kundera; these are the ones that have stayed with me and to whom I return again and again. I'm reading the complete Moomin tales right now, and it's probably the most comforting, wise and friendly writing I have ever read. For visual ideas, I look at J. W. Waterhouse, Edward Gorey, Neoclassical and Rococo painting, artists and illustrators of the Russian "World of Art" movement, Indian miniature painting, as well as textiles and folk arts. When it comes to drawing rooms, I often look at old IKEA catalogs for layout and "World of Interiors" magazine for furnishing ideas.
What's your dream job?
I would love to illustrate a series of book covers for a re-release of a favorite author's entire oeuvre.