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Interview with Illustrator Angie Garland

Monday 17 July 2017

Angie Garland is an Australian Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Raised on the sunny east coast of Australia, she has lived in Sydney, Melbourne and Copenhagen. She loves to draw, people watch, and eat (all at the same time), and loves meeting people who she can do the aforementioned activities with.

We caught up with Angie to discuss her life and favourite collaborations!

Hello Angie! How did you get into illustration and what made you think “This is what I want to do!”?

Good question! I don’t think I had an ‘aha’ moment where I suddenly realised that I wanted to spend all my time drawing, but I guess it’s something I spent a lot of time doing as a kid and never stopped. I think the moment I realised I could make money drawing was around the same time I bought my first iMac and started discovering artists who were being paid to draw all day (whoa!) I love to draw and make things and being creative is one of my favourite things in the world, so I think it will always be something I will ‘do’, even if it isn’t making me any money!

Your work is very feminine and you mostly illustrate girls, all the details remind me of being back at school! What inspires you and how long did it take you to find your personal style?

Haha! I love that you say that, I think I still have a fascination with teenage girls (not in a creepy weird way), just an appreciation for how weird and tough late teen years are (for girls especially). I guess my work is a look inside my head, where I’m still a 16 year old who’s just trying to figure it all out. I think inspiration for me comes from that moment when I’ve let myself ‘chill’, and I finally have some brain space to take notice of things and people and the way these things make me feel. I also took a trip to Japan last year and spent loads of time in parks people watching, and wandering through teeny tiny stationery and sticker stores – I came back from that trip feeling like I had enough inspiration to last a lifetime!

What do you want to communicate with your work?

Hmmm.. I rarely start a drawing with a clear intention or message, but I guess I will only start a drawing if I’m feeling inspired or like I’m in a fun or playful mood – that way whatever I make is full of colour and quirk!

What does an average day of yours look like?

I’m travelling at the moment, so no work (hooray!). But, if I was spending the day at home freelancing, I’d start my day with a jog (usually around the block a few times, blasting Rihanna or old Nelly Furtado). Once I’ve worn myself out a bit, I’ll have a shower, then make a delicious big breakfast. My favourite breakfast food is eggs, so breakfast will likely consist of eggs and avocado and if I’m lucky, some crunchy sourdough. Once I’m fed and exercised, I’ll make my way to my desk (which in my last place was the big dining table my housemate and I shared). Usually scattered with sketchbook pages and pens, I’ll try to do a bit of organising before popping open my laptop to check emails, do some social media-ing and general time wasting activities. Hooray! Time to get to work. If I’m being especially disciplined, I’ll start my day with some general drawing warm ups, where I’ll try doing some loose and tight drawings to loosen up my hand (and my brain!). Then, I’ll try to work in 1 hour increments, giving myself sneaky 10 minute breaks for a quick bathroom visit/snack/star-jump. And repeat! I usually get into a delicious flow around mid-day, then slowly lose momentum as the day goes on.

What’s the biggest mistake you think you’ve made in terms of illustration? 

Hmm, I don’t think I’ve made any real big and scary ‘mistakes’, but I do regret spending so much time second guessing my ‘style’. I think your style naturally changes as you start to become technically better at what you do. The second you just start doing what feels right, and stop second guessing yourself and comparing yourself to other artists, you can step into that cosy space where everything you make is right because your work is for you, and no one else! Apart from style, I used to spend loads of money on special papers and fancy pens, but now I buy super basic felt tip pens and the cheapest notebook at the art store, and make it work. It’s so nice and easy to blame your materials for making you feel uninspired, when really all you need is a pen and paper and your imagination!

You did a textile collaboration with the Stay Home Club! How was your experience with the team?

Yeah!! I actually reached out right when the business had started. I remember seeing loads of reposts on tumblr, by girls who had bought super cute patches and pins from the website, so I scoped it out and decided to try my luck and see whether they were looking for contributions. I emailed through my portfolio and asked if they would consider taking me on as a contributing artist, and they replied with a ‘yeah sure!’. Beyond that, I didn’t work with anyone from the team directly, but they were super chill about letting me design whatever I pleased.

I know you’ve been travelling a lot lately. How does it influence your work?

Yes!! I spent the past two years working full time as a graphic designer, and I think I had 9-5 burnout by the end of last year. I’ve taken a year long ‘finding myself’ sabbatical, and I’m really happy I did it. I’m in Mexico now, eating a lot of street empanadas and trying (miserably) to learn Spanish. From Mexico I’ll be heading to Central America, and then (maybe) South America. This is my first real make-it-up-as-I-go backpacking trip, so the uncertainty is exciting, and really bloody stressful since I can sometimes be control freak-y. As for influences, Mexico has been mucho inspiring!! Every house is a different colour and even the street signs are hand painted in this beautiful curly cursive. I’m trying to carve out more time for drawing, but I’ve filled a few Mexico sketchbooks and should grab another soon!

Do you ever get stuck with your creativity?

Absolutely. I think I’m only just settling into the weird rythmn of inspiration. It seems like it comes right when you’re about to throw in the creative towel and head off to find a job in the coal mine (lol). I’ve found the more you fight the droughts of inspiration, the harder it is to dig your way out. Now I just accept that I can’t be creative for a little while and let my brain simmer and brew up a new batch of inspiration, and in the meantime I try mixing up my routine and trying new things to spark something!

Do you have any exhibitions planned / collaborations?

No and no! I’d so so love to exhibit my work at some point. Being given a space to do what I pleased with would be a dream. As for collaborations, I want to do more! Please get in contact if you’re reading this and are looking for someone fun to make nice things with.

Any artists you’d recommend us to check / keep an eye open?

Oh man, too many. I swear there’s no bigger joy in my life than scouring the depths of Instagram for new illustrators to follow. A few I’m really keen on at the moment are @bijoukarman @sunnyeckerle @lisa_koesterke @freyaflavell @prawncocktail. Also, my sisters are crazy talented female drag queens (both of them!) and their Instagrams are definitely worth a scroll through – @lucygarland and @sophiegarland