Mandy Saile of Bijou's Whimsy [mandysaile]
What is your specialty in illustration?
Because there are so many amazing illustrators out there I think it's important to make sure you stand out as much as you can. Over the years, I have created my own style, it is a very bright and light, flowing, and often detailed style with a sophisticated colour palette so my work stands out easily and this seems to be what attracts people to use my work. I can't consider just one aspect of illustration as my speacialty however because I feel that I don't have nearly enough exeperience yet working in the different areas. My work does however seem to circle alot around the theme of health, spirituality, inspirational, woman and mythos, etc. My work has been applied thus far to a few different areas, editorial, books, greeting cards. I would indeed someday love to say Children's Books and Greeting Cards are my main specialty.
To view my portfolio/work please visit my website at www.bijouswhimsy.com or my blog at www.bijouswhimsy.blogspot.com or my Etsy shop at www.bijouswhimsy.etsy.com
What are your regular clients like? What do they expect from you?
The most recent clients I have had were very pleasant to work with. The assignment was for 23 illustrations for a foresty conservation book and it was challenging but also a great experience. I found that as long as I was honest with them throughout the whole process, the clients felt that they could be so with me and in the end I think everyone was happy with the part they played. I think whether working with an easy or difficult client you have to be respectful, timely and patience...be ready for alot of linears and changes, stand up for your work and ideas but also be the illustrator they want to work with again and again. I think all of my clients so far have been very positive and nice to work with....I am hoping that my work just naturally attracts those kind of people!
Have you completed formal art studies, or are you self-taught?
I graduated as an honours associate from The Ontario College of Art and Design in 1999. My concentration was on the Communication and Design side.
How did you get your first full assignment? What did it involve?
My very first assignment was a magazine cover for "Alternatives Journal" an environmental magazine. I didn't start sending out mailers right away after graduation, I just didn't feel 'ready'. Now I wish I had just jumped in and started more forcefully 'way back then' but anyhow! I had sent out a big batch of handmade mailers, printed on my inkjet printer. The design was quite lovely and pretty complicated...thinking back probably too fancy. I think I sent out over 200 mailers in that first batch and I didn't get any calls at first but a couple months down the road, the wonderful art director from Alternatives called and asked if I wanted to try my hand at the full colour cover. They had a specific theme in mind of course, so I took that theme and after a week or two went back to them with about 14-16 different concepts. Unfortunatley they picked my least favourite concept, but that was that, I couldn't argue so I had to do my best to work with it. Now I know to only put your favourite/best concepts forward. But, oh what excitment, to see your work published in or on a magazine for the very first time...I am still trying to ride that feeling, ha ha.
What past or present day illustrators do you admire most?
There are so many..I add someone to my favourites list almost every day. But I would think my original inspriations would have to be people like Anita Kuntz, Pamela Silin-Palmer, Mary Englebreit, Heather Cooper, Maxfield Parish, Kinuko Craft, The Hildebrant brothers, Graeme Base, Michael Parkes, Daniel Merriam, Alphonse Muncha, Jay Ray, my beloved highschool art teacher David Carlin, Emily Carr, Gustav Klimt, Marc Chagall, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Frida Kahlo, Susan Seddon Boulet, David Shannon, Cathie Shuttleworth, Donna Green, Charles Van Sandwyk, Josephine Wall, Matilda Harrison, Helen Ward, David Kirk, Jan Brett, Laszlo Gal and Valsta Van Kampen….I could go on.
How similar are your current drawings to those you did as a child?
Ha ha...thankfully very very different. 'Back Then' I was afraid to apply too much colour, depth, etc...now my imagery is full of deep and rich colour, the concepts are strong and I just try not to be afraid to experiment. Though I think my drawings have always retained a 'roundedness' about them.
Do you have a particular style, or does it vary a lot?
I have a particular style definatly. I started it in my last year of college primarily with coloured pencil and over the years it's adapted and grown tighter and better so that I feel confident and proud to sell and push my work with it. However, I don't consider it to be final, I think it's still evolving and getting better and now I am adding in other mediums. I try to work in that unique style as much as I can because I know it will help me stand apart and in the end get me the work. I have other portfolios like a lino-cut one, portraiture, black and white but I don't push them as much because I want most of my work to be done in my colourful, happy and alive style.
What is hardest to draw?
For me it is definatly hands. Thankfully my current style doesn't involve detailed hands. I don't really care much for perfect perspective either.
What type of music do you listen to while you work?
I can't work without music or an audiobook. For music I love; Peter Gabriel, Sting, U2, Cafe Del Mar, Putumayo Presents, One Giant Leap, A Fine Frenzy, Imogen Heap, Frou Frou, the list is way to long really, I enjoy all types of music and I like to make my own 'studio mixes'. One day I'll listen to Bollywood Music, the next day I might listen to Emmy Rossum. I am somewhat obessed with jazz...jazz can cure my worst moods, ha ha, so I stream the Toronto Jazz station alot. And I also love Sky.fm stations, specifically the 'world', 'New Age' and "DaTempo Lounge' channels.
Do you have a favorite work of art?
Yes, up till now from all of my work my favourite pieces are "Sundance", "At First Light" and "Inertia Creeping", however I have some upcoming imagery I am very excited about and they may take the front position.
What do you do when a client simply says "I don't like it"?
I've never quite heard it that blunt before but I think you just have to always remain respectful of yourself and your client. So if I hear that I at first explain why I did something a certain way and if they still disagree well then I change it because they are in the end the client with the paycheque and it's my job to make them happy.
What new techniques have you been experimenting with lately?
Lately I've been painting more on wood, which I absoutley love, I love how the acyrlic soaks right in for a nice deep sense of colour and I love how the coloured pencil works on top of this. I am working more on canvas which I am not loving quite so much. I think I am just adding more elements into my usual style, trying out paint with coloured pencils instead of just coloure pencil. Mixing in some collage and words that I print on my inkjet, etc. That's the fun part..always experimenting and finding new ways to make your image better.
What part of your work do you do on paper and what part digitally?
I do all my work by hand. The only part I use the computer for is to scan, print and create cards/mailers etc. I have a hard time with digitally altering my art, it just leaves a bad taste. I like the fact that my handmade work will always have my essense and my style...if I switch to digital, I just think it would lose my voice. To me, handmade stuff always stands out and is more original than computer made work...but I am old school in this thought and I admit to not browsing a whole lot in the digital areas.
What research do you do for your illustrations?
I love the research part. It's always interesting to study for the different topics which I am drawing. I do try to come up with the rough image in my head first however and then I go searching for my reference. I use the internet, books, the library, sometimes my own photography and I also have a pretty extensive reference system of my own that I've been clipping and organizing since the college days, ha ha.
Do you have colleagues with whom you share techniques, tricks, ideas, etc.?
I do for sure share and chat with friends and collegues. I think the art industry has grown so crowded and there so much competition that really nowadays we must help each other out. Although I do have one or two of my own tricks with coloured pencil that I know aren't a secret but that I don't necessarily go around teaching either.
Do you have any specific goals as an illustrator?
I would really love to have my work benefit all kinds of Animal Adovocy groups such as IFAW, PETA, The Fauna Foundation, WWF...I would just love to work with these groups and having my work bring attention to their causes, that would simply be an honour for me. For my work to show the brillance, beauty and importance of our natural world.
I want my work to some day bring more awareness to the importance of using cruelty-free products and hopefully someday banishing animal testing. My life is full of rabbits, I am destined to be with and help them and rabbits being the #1 test subject breaks my heart and soul and I would just love to do something about it someday. That being said, my other goal is honestly to make enough money with illustration to fund a rescue/sancutary for lab rabbits/guinea pigs, etc.
I also want to launch a very successful Art/Greeting Card section to my business.
I would also love to create beautiful children's books that have good moral and ethical messages.
I aspire to many many things...things are added almost daily, ha ha...it's exhausting and a long journey but I can't picture myself doing anything but art and illustration.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I am working on a collection of wooden dolls which I've called 'Nubbins'. They grew from a shadowbox art piece I was doing for a Gallery and I had so much fun with them and the response has been so great that I am excited to offer them as individual 'dolls' and to create a whole line. I am also working slowly with a new environmental company developing designs of endangered animals and plants etc for bedspreads, towels and hopefully eventually giclee prints and stuffed toys. I am working towards a body of work which will be applied to gallery exhibitions. I am working on a catalogue for my own greeting card line. Also I am diving into making my very first children's book which I'll self-publish if need be. And a line of Jewelry featuring my own illustrations are soon to come. There are many things currently in the works which is always tiring and confusing but also so very very exciting.
What advice do you have for someone who likes to draw and would like to make a living from it?
You can't enter this field expecting things to be easy. It's alot of hard work and determination. You must never lose Hope. Never give up a good oppourtunity even if it's not exactly what you want because theres a thousands artists right behind you ready to take your place. Be prepared for the ball to take a long time in rolling!
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
What is your blog address? What subjects do you deal with?
What was it that made you create your blog? On what date did you start it?
I absolutely love blogging. It lets me give a more personal voice to my creative journery, aspirations and inspirations that my regular website doesn't. I like the divison of the two also becaues I know that clients, art directors, most buyers etc will just be visiting my website, but I know if people want a more personal story and glimpse into where and how the work is created, then those people will visit my blog. I find that blogging makes me work much better also in that I want to have alot of new work to share with my visitors so I have to work much harder and more frequently to do so. Blogging is a great catalyst to many more positive things. I started my blog in May of 2008 so I am quite new at it but still have great hopes as to where the blogging world will lead me.
What blogging system have you adopted and why?
I am using blogspot. I choose it because all of the blogs I was visiting and liked the most were also using BlogSpot so I figured there was something to that. I have had few problems so far and I really enjoy it and have no complaints. I originally wanted to host my blog right off my own website but BlogSpot was so easy to set up and it's so easy to maintain that I haven't looked back since.
Have you created relationships with other bloggers or readers of your blog?
I have created some relationships with other bloggers yes indeed. That is what is wonderful about blogging...the connection you get with the world. Because being an artist can be very solitary, the blogging kind of opens up the world abit more and makes it feel not quite so big, lonely or overwhelming.
I've had people leave me messages from France, from Florida, from all over and it's so exciting to know that these people are seeing my work because of my blog.
Blogging thus far for me has been a very positive experience. My blog tends to be very authentic to my own artistic journey and I am drawn to blogs of similar style and truth and the people who maintain these blogs seem to be just lovely, positive and over all just really nice people. It's funny because sometimes I'll think 'oh I wish I could go for a coffe with this person..." and then you realize wait a minute they are all they way over.... but the connection and support that blogging provides is great.
At the same time, sometimes the blogging world can be overwhelming. Espeacially when you've come later to the game as I have! Sometimes it does feel like no one is tuning in or listening and going from blog to blog, seeing such amazing artists and work and their amazing journeys can sometimes leave you feeling below par! So I make sure I do my blog surfing on days where I am feeling solid and strong in my own little artistic venture/world.
How often do you post? Does regular posting of your blog require a lot of effort on your part?
I try to post 5 times a week. But as a chronic/accute migraine sufferer sometimes it's 4 times a week. Even when I don't have a new image to share, I like to post a photo I took or even older work...but mostly I like to keep the blog to fresh and new happenings. It is alot of work and does require time but overall I think it's worth it. To see my artistic journey so nicely and brightly chronicled is just a treat. If I know I am going to have a really busy week than I'll try to do a week worth of posts all at once, the post options dates is a great feature.
Does blogging bring in income for you? Can one make a living from posting?
So far no...but geez wouldn't that be a beautiful thing, ha ha....I won't completely rule it off my list of 'Hopes and Dreams'. Creating art...selling it through my blog..blogging from a laptop on the ground, surrounded by many bunnies...okay, sounds good to me, ha ha.
How do you promote your blog?
I am still struggling with this part. As my blog is not even a year old, I am hoping that with time and the number of posts comes more readers and exposure. I want to stay true to my own vision of what blogging should be and I don't want to sell out and be 'gimmicky'. Also I keep reminding myself that to find a steady and consistent readership is very difficult when there are so many blogs out there. But I am hoping that if I keep my journey honest and bright and uplifting that it will indeed attract the right kind of readers and buyers, etc. I realize that I will have to perhaps spend some money on advertising the blog, right now I just do so through free blog directories but haven't had much luck with that so far. So though readership grows slowly atleast it's still growing right!
What advice would you give to someone who wishes to begin a blog?
Just start. Find the format you like and go for it. Be authentic and honest and gentle and polite...it'll bring much more positivity than anything bad that's for sure.
Mandy Saile of Bijou's Whimsy