Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Interview - Ameesha Lee

I literally stumbled across Ameesha Lee and her work while on my internet travels and I immediately loved her style of illustration. It's modern, with obvious graphic design elements, but you can also tell that someone's hand made it. I love the organic feeling to her pieces - the sense you get that she's guiding the illustration, but at the same time, letting it guide her too. And then I discovered she was an ex-pat Aussie living in Canada with a very diverse and interesting client list. Well, I had to find out more so I invited her to answer a few questions. Welcome, Ameesha!

All photos courtesy of Ameesha Lee

Tell us a bit about yourself, your artwork and achievements.

I'm from the beachy shores of Perth, Western Australia but now live in the often snowy streets of Toronto. I am a graphic designer & illustrator who has worked on all kinds of projects from print & editorial illustration to motion graphics & broadcast design for TV. Illustration is a huge love of mine & I've been focusing on this in my spare time for the past two years now. My biggest achievement so far has been writing my own children's book. I wrote it over a series of long train rides early last year where the words came spilling out, it was quite a cathartic process. Finishing the illustrations for it will be quite the feat & one I hope to achieve in the next few months!

(c) Ameesha Lee

When did you know you wanted to work creatively (from a young age or did you come to it later?) and what steps did you take to make it happen?

My sister was always the artist in my family & I would try to draw like her when I was younger, so she played a huge part in bringing out my creative side from a young age! I never pursued art in high school, which seems so strange to me now, but I finally realized what I really wanted to do & literally changed my entire career path overnight in my last six months of high school. I decided I no longer wanted to be a massage therapist & applied to do a one year art & design course after graduating. I then applied for a three year advanced diploma in Graphic Design & only just scraped in with my meagre little folio! Looking back, getting into that amazing course was one of the best things that could have happened to me. It led to me moving to Sydney & then on to Toronto not long after. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I actually get to do something I love & get paid for it!

Do you have any routines or rituals you perform before starting a day's work or a new project? How do you motivate yourself?

Every day is different really but I tend to function best after a good cup of tea & a bit of trawling through the internet & looking at a handful blogs I'm a little addicted to! Listening to/finding new music is a huge inspiration also. I often get motivated by seeing all the amazing work that other artists are constantly putting out there too. It drives me to want to do better & constantly evolve as an artist. My partner is also a huge inspiration when it comes to motivation, he's probably the most motivated, hard-working person I've ever met. Seeing him work long hours to achieve his goals usually lights quite the fire under my arse!

(c) Ameesha Lee

Does being an ex-pat living in Canada influence or change your work and/or style?

I wouldn't say it has changed my overall style but I have seen more references to Australia sneak in here & there in my personal work which is probably due to intense homesickness some days! A large drawing of a Vegemite jar currently occupies our chalkboard wall at home and that seems to have satisfied my itch to draw iconic Aussie objects, for now!

How do you go about developing ideas for new work? How does your process differ for personal work, editorial, commercial or motion projects?

Ideas for my illustration work usually come very fluidly. I'll start doodling & experimenting with different elements/layers/bit of paper, etc & it usually makes its way to becoming something interesting. Not without a million tweaks here & there of course! I usually spend quite a bit of time researching before I start a project, particularly for commercial/client work, whether it be print, motion or otherwise. Putting together mood boards is also extremely helpful for me, a rough collection of imagery, etc that helps frame the idea & get the ball rolling.

Commercial work by Ameesha Lee

What do you do when you have a creative block and need to refill the well'?

Taking a break usually helps, as well as chatting to other creative pals! I find it very difficult to push through a piece of work when I'm just not in the right frame of mind. Usually taking a break/going for a walk/making a tea is enough to get over any mental block. It can be difficult when creative blocks occur when working on client projects as you usually don't have time to dilly-dally due to a more rigid timeline. Having an emotional response to the project, and a desire to create something that engages the audience is super important to me & without it I become fairly frustrated & disillusioned as is the case with many creative types I imagine! I need to be able to believe in the story/product, etc to be able to really create good work & do my best for the project.

(c) Ameesha Lee

What are your favourite tools/materials for creating?

I love using all sorts of tools whether it be pencils, watercolour & paints on paper, or crafty applications using fabric & sewing techniques, to digital tools such as a scanner & Wacom. Anything that helps elevate the particular project I'm working on.

Thanks so much, Ameesha, it was great to hear about your approach to your work - very inspiring! It was an absolute pleasure to feature you today!

Please check out more of Ameesha's work at the following links:

Ameesha' Portfolio website
Ameesha's blog
The Littlest Mammoth shop which carries a selection of Ameesha's prints
Envelop: a Belgium site with products featuring Ameesha's illustrations