Present Tense

Poonam Mistry

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Illustration by Poonam Mistry

Poonam was born in the UK in 1988. She is a recent graduate from Hertfordshire University, and her work has been featured on The Inspiration Grid. She is now working as a freelance artist and she’s open for commissions.

Old Book Illustrations: As we can read on your site, your style is strongly influenced by Indian culture, and it could be described as lavishly ornamental, making use of a mix of geometrical and organic patterns that often fill most of the space. Figures are depicted with decorative lines, and it is usually impossible to dissociate the main motif from its ornamentation, as the two are so closely entwined. These traits are not uncommon in the field of applied arts, and you mention fabrics as another influence, while your wooden pieces seem to point to the more crafty aspect of art. Is this all just a coincidence, or do you feel an actual and particular inclination for arts and crafts?
Poonam Mistry – It’s definitely something I try to do intentionally. I take a lot of inspiration from arts and crafts. I adore hand made things. I guess it’s to do with the craftsmanship and… Read more »

Elle Ward

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Illustration by Elle Ward

Elle was born in London in 1986. She graduated from the Kingston University in 2008 and has since been working as a designer in book publishing. Her work, published by Carlton Books, includes 3 children’s activity books, and two more are to be released in 2011.

Old Book Illustrations: Most of your drawings are unadorned, uncluttered with anything that isn’t necessary, they are often very expressive too, in an unsettling, coarse sort of way: you don’t try to charm the viewer, and you seem to stay away from “pretty” with great care. Is this approach easy to live with? Or have you felt some pressure along the way to alter your artistic personality, and, shall we say, smooth the rough edges?
Elle Ward – My work has always had a dark side to it. I find drawing pretty things to be almost too easy, not challenging enough to the artist or the viewer. I’m at my happiest when illustrating something unsettling, macabre or strange. The problem with this is that what I like… Read more »

Anne Emond

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Illustration by Anne Emond

Anne was born in 1982, she is a graduate from the School of Visual Arts. She has participated in group exhibitions, and her work has been published in TimeOut New York. She has just started working as a freelance illustrator and she’s willing to take commissions.

Old Book Illustrations: You define yourself not only as an illustrator, but also as a writer, and you do indeed like telling stories: many of your drawings, for instance, belong to narrative series. They usually depict a world that is familiar, similar to our everyday world, but somewhat skewed to give way to slightly melancholy or disturbing feelings. Are those feelings easier to express through several drawings rather than in a standalone illustration? Or is there something more fulfilling in following a character through a number of situations?
Anne Emond – While I’m always impressed by the power of a single image to convey a complex moment or emotion, what’s really appealing to me about illustration more than anything else is the creation and development of characters, which… Read more »

Dadu Shin

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Illustration by Dadu Shin

Dadu is a graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design. He has just started his freelance career and his published work so far includes illustrations for Plansponsor Magazine, Planadvisor Magazine, etc. He is open for more commissions.

Old Book Illustrations: There is a light, aery, and somewhat poetical quality about your drawings, which is probably due, to some degree, to how clean they are and how easy it is for the eyes to find their way through them. On second look though, one suspects that behind their seeming simplicity might lie very careful and thought out composition. Is that the case, or would you say that the various elements of an image fall into place rather spontaneously?
Dadu Shin: This is actually a hard question for me to answer, as I’m still working on finding a process that I can really stick to and work with. However as of right now, I would say that my images include a little bit of both. I always do small thumbnails for idea generation and then… Read more »

Lorraine Nam

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Illustration by Lorraine Nam

Lorraine was born in Philadelphia, PA. She recently graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and her work has been shown at the Drift Gallery, in Maine. She is open for commissions for cut paper, books, and illustrations.

Old Book Illustrations: The first thing that catches the eye, when visiting your Websites, is your predilection for cut paper. How does one decide to go from a line drawing to a cut paper, and how does one live with the idea that such painstaking work is so fragile and likely to be ephemeral?
Lorraine Nam: I start off with a very rough outlined drawing because oftentimes, I find that I get too bogged down in detail to continue to finish the piece. As I am cutting the paper, I like to let the material dictate where my next cut will be and I generally improvise as I work. Although paper cuts are very fragile painstaking work, I feel that once I’m finished with the piece… Read more »

Victo Ngai

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Illustration by Victo Ngai

Victo was born and raised in Hong Kong, in 1988. She is a graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design and her published work includes illustrations for Plansponsor magazine, AI5000 Electronic magazine, etc. She is willing to take commissions.

Old Book Illustrations: Your work is somewhat remiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, with its strong linear quality, its vigorous contrasts and the favored use of flat, subdued colors… can you tell us a bit about your technique and how you came to elaborate it?
Victo Ngai: I do have a strong influence from Japanese woodblock prints, or rather, Asian arts and crafts in general. And I think it is largely because of my cultural background. My portfolio teacher Chris Buzelli once told me this:

Style is overrated. Style merely means one’s habit of drawing based on one’s own experiences. Therefore everyone has a unique style because everyone has a unique life.

I think this is very true and very well said… Read more »

Gabrielle Rose

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Illustration by Gabrielle Rose

Gabrielle Rose was born in 1983, in Texas. Her published works include collaborations with Josh Tierney, participation to Narcisa’s gallery, etc. She is open for commissions.

Old Book Illustrations: Many of your drawings look like they are illustrations to actual stories or tales. Do you sometimes have one in mind as the starting point for a drawing, even if only as a blurry reference? Or does visual stimulation come first, one character, one graphic element calling for the next one?
Gabrielle Rose: Generally I’d say I have some sort of vague narrative in mind when I draw something. This was especially true when I was younger, as I think it is for most children. Children don’t seem to draw things in isolation. There’s always a story in children’s drawings. I still think that way, but instead of drawing something happening on the page I like to focus on the in-between moments… Read more »