Friday, August 31, 2012

Interview - flossy p

Flossy-p's work has a gentle quality to it which resonates with you long after you see it. One of her most popular illustrations is her Wombat, featured in prints and on pillowcases in her shop, and you can see why it's struck a chord. I have followed flossy-p's blog and work for several years so I thought it was about time I interviewed this amazing artist to find out more about her work. Welcome, flossy-p!

flossy-p aka Sarah (photo courtesy of the artist)

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

My name is Sarah, I work under the pseudonym flossy-p, and I am an illustration artist. I sell my paintings, paint commissions, and sell prints and greeting cards. I have also moved into fabric items too, my pillowcases are quite popular in my online shop right now.

I'm heading deep deeeep into my 30's (much faster than I care to discuss) and 18 months ago we had our first baby, a boy! Life has changed immensely. My work life has slowed right down, but my brain has not. I'm slowly working my way back to keeping up with the pace of my imagination. I hope to get there one day ;)

As for achievements... I suppose the most jiggy happy dances came about when my work was selected to be published in Curvy (an annual of the top 100 female illustrators from around the world). This happened twice and I danced just as happy-hard both times.

Wombat Pillowcase by flossy-p on Etsy

When did you know you wanted to work creatively and what steps did you take to make it happen?

On and off, the whole time. At school I worked really hard to make sure I got into uni because all I wanted to do was to study art and keep making it. Despite doing really well at uni, I came out hating art! I didn't want to see it, speak about it, read or write about it, or do it ever again. I went and got a fancy city job, got busy, stressed, and fast.

Sometime later creativity started to push its way back to the surface, and I started drawing again... Though it wasn't pretty. I was verrrry rusty (the reason for hiding behind a pseudonym), but I persisted until my skills shaped up. I became involved in the online illustration community, and once again art was all I could think about.

Then one day, 8 years after starting my big city job, on nothing more than a leap of faith, I quit.

I've been doing my art ever since.

Strings by flossy-p on Etsy

Could you describe a typical day? How do you balance creating with administration?

HA! Administration is nothing compared to an 18 month old boy! Finding enough time, and creating balance is by far the biggest challenge I have.

My fingers are in lots of pies, so a large majority of my work time is taken up with administration. Now that my art is also my livelihood it is important for me to prioritise it. I tend to do lots of admin, bits and pieces, planning projects etc, day to day, then I'll block out a few days, turn off my phone and computer, and just concentrate on making new work.

At the moment a typical day starts when I wake to the sounds of my little guy imitating early morning birdcalls. We spend our day eating, reading, playing, but when he drops for his nap, I pump into action! Then when I hear the baby birdcalls again I stop and resume my role as a mum. Surprisingly, playtime with him can offer a chance to dream up new ideas, since the act of playing requires a generous dollop of creative thought in itself.

The biggest adjustment has been changing my work schedule from a full day to smaller pockets spread over many days. While it is frustrating and has been difficult to get used to, I think it has actually improved my work. Being forced to stop gives me the opportunity to take my time to think through the next part of the painting, and come back to it with fresh eyes. Because of this I seem to tire of it less quickly, resulting in more detail and complexity.

work-in-progress - flossy-p

What are the things, people or places which inspire you?

Nature is the biggest inspiration for me. I find it oddly alien, and that fascinates me! It's such great irony that the very stuff that makes up this planet can still seem so freakish and unreal. Show me one of those BBC nature documentaries and I'm all astonishment... take me into the backyard and hand me a teensy seedpod and I'm just as enamoured, sit me in front of a hyper-coloured sunset and can imagine, I pretty much turn into the "double rainbow" guy.

I often try to document the oddities of nature, but sometimes I also use people in my art to help depict the connection and adoration I feel with it all.

Blue Whales by flossy-p on Etsy

What are your favourite tools/materials for creating?

A beautiful thick textured sheet of watercolour paper always excites me. Pristine and ready to soak in and hold tight of whatever I add to it. Eeeep, I'm excited just thinking about it!

What is your advice for aspiring illustrators/artists?

For goodness sake stop judging your work harshly. Set the self criticism aside, it will do you no good and will only stop you in your tracks. If you do a work you're not happy with, don't waste time agonising over it, just let it go, store it somewhere safe and move on to something new. You'll be surprised how a bit of time and distance from a work can help; seeing it with fresh eyes a few months later can result in different feelings altogether.

So in summation, keep at it, and be kind to yourself.

Grevillea by flossy-p on Etsy

Thanks so much for sharing your very inspiring story, flossy-p! Please check out more of flossy-p's work here: