Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
New York! Yes, I was born and raised in NY -- grew up in a Westchester suburb just outside of NYC and have called NYC my home for the past 10 years or so. I now live with my husband and cat (with baby on the way) in a beautiful section of the Bronx called Riverdale. We're literally right on the Hudson River overlooking the northern tip of Manhattan and the New Jersey Palisades. Our ever-changing river views are quite magical and have become a great source of inspiration for my work. You would never think you were in the city from here!
How did you get your start as an artist/illustrator?
After a series of jobs (some creative, some not so much), I realized that I wanted to a) work for myself b) be able to work from home and c) do something I was quite passionate about. The idea of drawing for a living didn't even occur to me until I was 28 years old. I finally took a leap of faith (and some time off from working at a "real job") to fully-immersing myself into creating a 10-piece portfolio of pen and ink drawings. Along the way, I was inspired to handmake prints of my work and see if they would sell at various art and craft shows in and around the city. To my delight, my work was well-received from the beginning and I've been going with the flow ever since, working full-time as an independent artist, freelance illustrator, and printmaker (I sell prints of my work on Etsy).
You've had some amazing jobs working with Etsy, Lacoste and Anthropologie (as an in-house artist + visual merchandiser)! Can you tell us about a favorite project?
Yes, I've had the pleasure of working with some really wonderful clients -- and it all started with a visual display internship for Anthropologie while I was in college. Being introduced to a world where your job could be hands-on *and* creative set a standard in my mind of what "work" should be like. Comparing that to the publishing internship I had prior to that made it very easy to see that a regular 9-5 job was not for me. And as hard work and luck would have it, a full-time visual position opened with Anthropologie and I was able to start my creative career quite early on. My favorite project however, would be any of the times I've collaborated with Etsy -- it's a great company with super employees.
When did you settle into your medium of choice, pen/ink?
As the very practical person I am, being able to take my work with me wherever I go is one of the main reasons I love drawing more than any other medium. I've always been addicted to drawing and used to doodle all over anything that was in front of me with any writing utensil I could get my hands on. As my drawings became more and more elaborate, using pencils, office pens, and Sharpie markers on scrap paper and random notebooks just wouldn't do -- I wanted to refine my work. My brother, a fine artist and great advocate of me pursuing my work, introduced the world of pen and ink to me one day when he took me to an art store and told me to explore all my options. What I really wanted more than anything was a very thin, crisp black line that didn't smudge or bleed -- and so, the technical pen found its way into my hand and into my heart. There's something so second-nature to me about holding a fine-tip pen -- it's just pure true love.
These pieces are highly-intricate! How long did these drawings take?
My pens are given quite the abuse and I push their fine points to the limit -- most pieces take 30-40 hours to create and approximately two pen-points each (as I tend to break them so often). Once I begin a piece, I become obsessed and want to finish it right away -- it's kind of like reading a juicy book that you never want to put down. I'll draw for hours at a time until my wrist and fingers begins to ache and complete carpal tunnel syndrome takes effect.
Are you psychic or is it a total coincidence that you chose "clouds" as your theme for BSDA soon before Hurricane Sandy?
Timing can be a crazy thing sometimes and my heart goes out to the victims of this powerful storm. As for my cloud-infused pieces made for this show, the correlation is purely coincidental. When I first began working on these pieces for BSDA, I was in my second trimester of pregnancy and my brain had turned into baby mush, propelling me into complete baby "nesting" mode (the need to spruce up the house, get organized, and decorate the nursery). I was on the hunt for quirky art and objects to add to our nursery room decor, but found it quite hard to find simple-yet-mature contemporary artwork that would appeal to both the parent and child. Most of what I could find was a smattering of pink and blue elephants, pom poms, and alphabet prints. What I wanted was to create something much more gender-neutral, eclectic, and stimulating -- something a child can grow with instead of outgrow in a short while. The themes of travel, adventure, extreme weather, and imagination inspired me to create these pieces for the child within us all, and I hope that is conveyed.
What do you want people to know about your work?
Some fun facts: I normally have no idea what I am about to draw when I begin a new piece. I have a very unconventional workspace where my studio/office meets my living room, and my favorite place to draw is actually the corner of our sofa (shh, don't tell anyone!). Now at eight+ months pregnant, I find it very awkward to draw over my big belly and am forced to work at a desk [blasphemy, ha!]). My muse is my funny snaggletoothed cat, Buggles. Lastly, my work's mascot is a fictional French pigeon named Pepe and you can find him flying around many of my drawings.
Buggles, the cat.