interview

Interview: Kim Salt on Freelance Illustration, Mangaka, and Sharing Your Work

12:12 pm

Today's interview is with the lovely Kim Salt, a freelance illustrator who creates dreamy art in gorgeous tones and full of life. The one above is certainly one of my personal favourites. I love that combination of the forest green and the deep pastel pink. We had a little chat about becoming a freelance illustrator, getting the confidence to share your work, and some of her favourite artists.

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Kim! Would you like to introduce yourself and what you do? When did you first get into illustration? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Kim Salt:
Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m a freelance illustrator and native New Yorker. I’ve worked with The New York Times, Guardian, Boston Globe, OpenTable, and Wall Street Journal to name a few.

Although I've never been educated formally as an illustrator, I majored in graphic design which is a close relative and utilizes many of the same foundational classes. I also took it as an elective as a discipline outside of my major. Beyond this, I've been drawing since I could hold a writing implement! I think I've always had a love for illustration before I even knew you could make a living off of it! It wasn't until after I had graduated and freelanced as a graphic designer for 4 years that I decided to pursue it professionally.


Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your illustrations in three words, what would they be?

Kim Salt:
Shapely, dynamic, whimsical? (Hopefully!)


Magic & Musings:
When did you first start sharing your illustrations online, and did you find yourself overcoming any hurdles regarding your confidence?

Kim Salt:
I think I've been sharing art online since I was 12, in the days of Oekaki, haha. I was just a kid but for a long time I felt that I had to 'wait until I was good enough' in order to share things. I did manage to post despite this attitude, though I think it must have persisted into adulthood. It took me a long time to even admit illustration was my dream, never mind gain the confidence to chase after it. Luckily I had a very encouraging partner as well as other supportive people in my life.

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look to when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Kim Salt:
I try to actively glean inspiration from non-illustration sources, but looking at other work in the interim definitely affects my drawing. Some of my favorite contemporary illustrators are Elle Michalka, Joohee Yoon, Angie Wang, Ping Zhu, Yuko Shimizu. When I was growing up, I was really influenced by the all-female mangaka group CLAMP, though I have no idea if that shows up in my work nowadays.

Magic & Musings:
Oh, I love CLAMP! They did Cardcaptor Sakura, one of my favourite mangas.
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Kim Salt:
Typically I’m dissatisfied with my work once I’m done with it, but a recent favorite was a piece I did for Intercom. I had a lot of fun with the assignment from start to finish.


Magic & Musings:
I’m interested in knowing how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done? 

Kim Salt:
The bulk of my work is created at the desk in my home, surrounded by plants and a single idiosyncratic cat. I always start the day off with coffee and I usually have WNYC playing in the background, podcasts, or music. Sometimes if I just have sketches due, I take my business to a cafe and draw there. Being in that productive atmosphere really helps me focus on ideating and removes me from my own cluttered headspace.

Magic & Musings:
A specific hot drink? A relaxing album?

Kim Salt:
Coffee! 1000x coffee! CDW by Charlotte Day Wilson.

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Kim Salt:
When I'm in a rut there's really nothing I can do to push forward other than keep drawing really ugly drawings until better ones come out (and getting a good night's sleep). Beyond this, some things that help me are people watching, new music, anime, film, hearing an interesting segment on NPR, or even life events. Sometimes a simple conversation can shift the way you think about the world and thus the way you draw.


Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools you use to create your illustrations? Are there any books on creativity and/or working for yourself you would recommend to others?

Kim Salt:
For sketching my favorites are mechanical pencils. For finished work, I love my Cintiq. Ink is also a fun thing to utilize in finished pieces. I think most of the books I read when entering the field were a bit outdated, but here are two helpful places online:

Dear Art Director, in which art directors answer common and uncommon questions from illustrators 

Creative Pep Talk, which explores different aspects of the illustration field 

Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Kim Salt:
I’d say having a website and social media are crucial for my business. My online portfolio/website is what art directors review to determine whether I am suitable for a job and all of my social media accounts point that way. Although I live in NYC, I’ve never actually met any AD’s in person and each assignment is conducted via email. Quite a few of the more recent AD’s I’ve worked with found me through social media.


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Kim Salt:
To start sooner! I’ve heard it so many times since I began, but do the thing even if you feel you’re not ready. Set concrete goals and meet them; do the thing you keep putting off.

Magic & Musings:
Fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you’ve enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Kim Salt:
Americanah, Moonlight (the last film I saw in theaters), 'Blood' by Lianne La Havas. 

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Kim Salt:
Nothing else comes to mind. :)

You can find me at these places:




https://www.etsy.com/shop/kimsaltdraws (Etsy)

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Enjoying this series? Want to keep it going? Consider supporting me on Patreon for lots more exciting things in the future. Find out more here.

interview

Interview: Petra Eriksson on Illustration, a Solid Daily Routine, and Getting Paid as a Freelancer

12:00 pm


Petra Eriksson is a Swedish freelancer illustrator and designer living in Spain (via many other wonderful places!), working with gorgeously bright colours to create images of people and the world around them. We had a lovely long chat about being a freelancer, her solid daily routine, and keeping your mind sharp throughout the day. Check out Petra's Instagram to see some more of her bold and bright art, and the places some of it has been featured.

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Petra! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, do you want to tell me a little bit about yourself and where you are today?

Petra Eriksson:
I’m an illustrator, artist, and graphic designer from Sweden, currently based in Barcelona. I come from a background in fine art but moved into the field of graphic design and illustration. I used to live in Malta and Berlin but have now been living in Barcelona for the past year. For many years I did freelance assignments beside my regular design job but for the past 8 months I’ve been freelancing full-time. I’m really enjoying freelance life. Obviously it has its ups and downs, but I love the flexibility and the chance to get to work with a wide range of clients within different sectors. 

Magic & Musings:
I love Malta! What a lovely background.
If you could describe your art style in three words, what would they be?

Petra Eriksson:
Colorful, graphic and inviting.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into art? What first drew you to the field? Did you study it formally or come across it as a hobby? 

Petra Eriksson:
I’m one of those people who has always been creating something visual. As a kid I was always drawing and as soon as I could start focusing my studies more on art and design, that’s what I did. After three years of upper-secondary school with art as my focus area I decided to spend two years at a small fine art school in Stockholm where I got the chance to refine my technical skills. When graduating from that school I felt a bit lost about what I wanted to do, I felt like I had lost the feeling for what I liked visually and didn’t feel the same kind of passion for art any more. I had applied to a bunch of other art schools but didn’t get accepted (probably a lot due to my own insecurity of my style at that point) and decided to take a break from it all. A year later I started studying illustration instead which lead me on to studying graphic design for two years, a decision that I’m very happy about today. 


Magic & Musings:
Did you have to find yourself overcoming any hurdles regarding your confidence when you first started displaying your art?

Petra Eriksson:
Not in general. Sometimes I’ve felt bad when I’ve in school had to present some kind of project that I’m not really happy with myself, but usually when it comes to the point of putting the piece out for a more public visibility I’ve reached a level of being happy with it. At that point I’m more excited than nervous to hear what people think about it. I know that everyone will not like what I do, and I wouldn’t want that either, but putting something out there for other people to see is something that I feel drives me forward, it makes me refine my art and try new things to see how it affects not only me but the viewer as well. 

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your work, what are you the proudest of and why?

Petra Eriksson:
Hard question! I’m working on a book project right now that I think is going to turn out very well, unfortunately I can’t say much about that project at this stage. Another project I feel very proud of is the atlas I created as my graduation project from design school. I only had about two months to complete it so it was a bit rushed and it definitely has a lot of flaws in it, but at that point it was my biggest project so far and I felt like during the process of creating it a lot of pieces fell into place about how I want to work and with what kind of projects. 


Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Petra Eriksson:
It is a very interesting question and something that I talk to quite a lot of people around me about as well, especially since many of them are freelancers of some kind just as me. 

I think I have my routine and my preferred settings pretty much nailed down, though it depends a bit on what kind of work I do. First of all, I hardly ever listen to anything while I work, I just can’t, even if I’m just drawing something simple I find that it usually clouds my mind more than inspire me. Music is something I use when I walk to shut out other noises around me and help me process my thoughts but while working I prefer things to be pretty quiet. 

I’m usually most effective in the mornings when my head’s clear and rested. I usually work from home for a little while in the morning before heading to my co-working space. For me it’s a nice thing to get out of the apartment most days of the week and go to an office with other ppl working around me. It’s both a way for me to be part of a community and to create a clearer division between work and free time. Having that said, I’m usually only in the office between 9:30-12 but I work very effectively during these hours. At noon I almost always go to the gym to get my body moving and to get the chance to completely clear my head. I’m back home around 2pm, and then I start with checking my mail, shower, eat some lunch, and then depending on how much I have to do I might continue my break for a bit longer or dive into the ongoing project at the moment. Usually my least creative working hours are between 2-4 so I often extend my mid-day break a bit into this time or do things like answering to emails, sending invoices etc. Usually I get a little spark of energy after that and get some more creative stuff done before breaking again, maybe to head out to meet a friend or just go for a walk. Often I work again for 1-2 hours in the evening between 9 and 11 depending on how much I have to do. 

I find that this is the way I’m the most effective and have the best quality of life. I very rarely work more than 6 hours a day, but I make sure that those hours are effective and that I get a lot done in a little time. I give myself the time to process thoughts and ideas during the times when I’m away from the computer doing other things. 

Also, I really don’t mind working for a few hours during weekends, if I don’t have any client project going on I almost always feel the need to work on some personal project during these days, but I definitely don’t have the same kind of schedule then as during my normal weekdays. 


Magic & Musings:
That's a fantastic routine! I can totally see how that would help you to be productive.
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Petra Eriksson:
I try to not get stressed (even though it’s hard sometimes if you have a tight deadline but can’t come up with any good creative ideas) and to give myself a break. I often just need to stop thinking about creating stuff for a while. Usually I go the gym to just release my brain from any work-related thoughts for a while or I do something cultural/creative like going to a museum, visiting a nice book store, or go to see a movie. 

Magic & Musings:
What are some things you like to do in your spare time when you’re not working?

Petra Eriksson:
Well, as I mentioned above I go to the gym most days because it makes me feel good (especially since I spend so much time in front of the computer otherwise). I like walking and visiting museums and exhibitions. These situations are when I get my best thinking done. Like most other people I enjoy spending time with friends and family as well, preferably at a cosy café or at someone’s terrace. The last couple of months I’ve also been part of kicking of the Barcelona version of HER Global Network which has been a great source of inspiration and a great chance to get to know a group of talented, amazing women from all around the world. 

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in another medium?

Petra Eriksson:
Currently I almost do all of my work digitally but I used to draw and paint a lot during my years in art school. I’ve also been working quite a lot with photography from time to time. Doing more physical things is something that I really want to get back into this year.


Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Petra Eriksson:
Social media has definitely helped me. It’s been so much easier to spread the work I do and to get recognition. Especially Instagram has been great as a self promotion tool; that’s also where most of my new clients this last year has come through. 

Magic & Musings:
If there was one thing you could want to say to the world if you knew everyone was listening, what would it be and why?

Petra Eriksson:
Remember to be kind, both to yourself and the people around you. 


Magic & Musings:
What tools do you use to keep yourself organised? 

Petra Eriksson:
Not many. I have a sketchbook for ideas and lists of everything from “things to do”, “invoices to send”, “invoices to make sure that they get paid” etc. It’s definitely not a bulletproof system but it works for now. For longer projects I usually write the deadline down in my Google Calendar but otherwise I just keep it in my head. I don’t really use any specific tools but I’m a firm believer in a clean and organized inbox, I try to keep it as empty as possible and label all of my work mails into different categories so it’s easy for me to find them. 

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Petra Eriksson:
I wish we would have talked a lot more at school about getting paid as a freelancer. I didn’t think about it then but afterwards I find it pretty weird that we hardly talked about freelance life at all at my school. It’s definitely tricky to figure out what to charge for different kinds of projects and since money in general can be a bit of a tricky subject it would have been great to dive into it then already and try to set some kind of standard for what you should get paid. 


Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

Petra Eriksson:
I’ve read a bunch of great books this last year but if I have to nail it down to one it would be The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; everyone should read it! There are so many great films out there as well but if someone still haven’t seen Spirited Away they need to do that straight away. I know that it’s not a new film but I still feel like I need to recommend it. My recommended song of the day is 'Horses at Night' by Still Corners. 

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? 

Petra Eriksson:
I’m just thankful to get the chance to share a part of my story and hopefully inspire some people along the way. You can find more of me and my works at my site or my Instagram.

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Enjoying this series? Want to keep it going? Consider supporting me on Patreon for lots more exciting things in the future. Find out more here.

I want YOUR suggestions!

11:39 am

Image Credit: Pavan Trikutam

I've been running my creative interview series for FIVE months now, and it's time to hear from you: who do you want to see me interview in the coming months?

I've currently got enough interviews in the oven to keep us going through until Christmas, so I want your suggestions for the new year, your suggestions to make my 2018 creative interviews better than ever!

Send me an email to meganmagicmusings at gmail dot com, reply to this blog post, or send me a direct message on Instagram @meganmagicmusings with your ideas of who I should interview next. I'm looking for exciting people, doing interesting and groundbreaking things, expressing their identity, working in fantastic, empowering professions. If you know someone or follow someone who fits the bill, let me know!

interview

Interview: Kelly Leigh Miller on Illustration, Printmaking, and Art on Social Media

12:00 pm


When I think of cute and colourful illustrations, I think of Kelly Leigh Miller. Her style pops off of the page (or screen!), depicting animals, adorable people, and sweet little scenes, always brimming with character. We had a chat recently about getting into illustration, her artistic style, and that ever-present comparison to others! Make sure you check out her work on her website...

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Kelly! Would you like to introduce yourself and what you do? When did you first get into illustration? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
Thank you for interviewing me! I’m Kelly Leigh Miller, a local Chicago illustrator. I specialize in a very whimsical, colourful, and cute style!

I am formally trained in illustration. I have a BFA in Illustration from the Maryland Institute College of Art. I’m not sure when I first got into illustration, but I used to draw ever since I could hold a crayon. When I was in middle school, I used to create my own comic books. They were only a few pages long, but looking back, they were very zine-like since I used to photocopy them and give them to my friends! I don’t think I ever stopped drawing and telling stories.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your illustrations in three words, what would they be?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
Oh geez, probably colourful, silly, and cute!



Magic & Musings:
When did you first start sharing your illustrations online, and did you find yourself overcoming any hurdles regarding your confidence?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
I dabbled in putting my stuff online in high school, but really didn’t do much then. It wasn’t until sometime while I was in college I tried it again. That was back probably in 2010ish. I will say, I wasn’t terribly good at promoting my work back then and really wasn’t sure how to go about using the internet in that kind of way until the past couple of years, when I really started to get into it.

I think any artist who puts their work online has many of the same hurdles when it comes to confidence. It’s so easy to get lost in the void of other people’s work and comparing it to your own. It’ll make you think questions you might not often think when you’re actually working like “why doesn’t my art look as good as that persons,” or “they are producing so much more work than I am so I must be slacking,” or even “maybe I should just stop making art since I won’t ever be like them.” I’ve even had those low moments of feeling like I shouldn’t make art because there were so many other people out there that seemed “better” than me at art. I put better in quotes because it’s so subjective. Everyone has different styles and everyone brings something different to the table when it comes to art. Sometimes it’s hard to remind yourself of that. Each person has a unique individual voice that comes out naturally when they work. Some voices are louder only because they are more developed and worked on, but that doesn’t mean they are better and the others should stop making art because of it. It just takes time to get your voice to the same level.

I have better methods now to combat confidence hurdles. I keep a sketchbook and try to doodle at least a page a day in it. These drawings are purely for me and they remind me of what I like and what I am when it comes to art. I can also experiment in it to try new things in a very safe non-judgemental environment. It almost centers me in a way. I love sketchbooks! I think every artist should work in one regularly!

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look to when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
There’s so many! I absolutely love Lynda Barry, Lisa Hanawalt, Kate Beaton, Gemma Correll, Rebecca Green, and the list goes on!

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Oh goodness, that’s probably the project I’m currently working on, but unfortunately, I can’t show any of it now! It’s not ready for any public release yet. As a runner up though, I would have to say my knitting dragon piece! (See below!)

I had been experimenting for a while on different ways to work and this was the first piece that seemed to come together in a way that developed how I work now! I had so much fun making the piece that it helped me figure out my current look and way to work.


Magic & Musings:
I’m interested in knowing how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done? A specific hot drink? A relaxing album?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! It’s not even about the caffeine. There’s something familiar and welcoming about the scent and the taste that makes me feel at home when I’m working. I also always have a sketchbook with me to work out ideas or just doodle ideas that I may get while working. I often have more ideas, but not enough time to work on all of them so my sketchbook acts as a way I can record them for later when I might have time. Recently my tool of choice for finished work has been my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I use both Procreate and Photoshop (through Astropad) for my digital work. I like varying the places I work and working on the iPad Pro makes that super easy. I also paint in gouache a lot, though I don’t normally do that for client work. On occasion, I will take personal gouache painting commissions.

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
I do a few things. I draw a ton in my sketchbook. Sometimes I switch mediums or try something new. I’ve been getting back into printmaking, which I used to do in high school. Mostly lithograph printing and risograph printing. I feel like working in unfamiliar mediums or ones that you don’t normally work in makes you get out of your head a bit and just work intuitively. It seems to break down any walls that I may be putting up creating the rut and just have fun working!

If that doesn’t work then usually I try to go out and do something else completely non-art related. I read a lot! I also take walks and play with my dog, Frankie. I might also hang out with friends, see a movie, go to a museum, or anything else to get my mind off of art and experience life a bit more. Bringing life experiences to my art helps my art feel more unique and more like me.



Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools you use to create your illustrations? Are there any books on creativity and/or working for yourself you would recommend to others?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
I mentioned some above, but the main things I work in now are my sketchbook, iPad Pro, and Apple Pencil!

My current favorite books on creativity would have to be Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon and Creative Pep Talk by Andy J Miller.

As for working on yourself books, I just started reading Quiet by Susan Cain. I recently saw her TED talk and totally related to the whole introvert who learned how to act like an extrovert. I haven’t finished it, but it is a good read so far!

Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
Social media has helped a lot in my business and helped get my name out there! My social media of choice is Instagram for its purely visual layout! It really is ideal for illustration. Twitter is a close second for me. Both of those have helped me a lot in marketing my work.


Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
That it really takes a lot of time! I think someone probably did, but I wish I'd listened. I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got to go into the field immediately after college, but looking back I think that was for the best. I don’t think I was ready or really found my voice until a few years ago.

Also just because someone’s not doing it at the time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Like if there’s a weird thing that you are very into, but no one is doing it, that’s more the reason to do it! Pioneer that cool weird thing you want to do!

Magic & Musings:
Fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you’ve enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
For books, my list is so long! I’ll narrow it down to recent stuff though! My current favorites are Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, which I am re-reading since the show just started!

For music, I’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie and El Vy recently as well as Paramore’s new album After Laughter, which sounds totally different than their old stuff and very fun! I like it when artists try something new with their work.

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Kelly Leigh Miller:
Thank you for the interview! The best place to stay current with my work would be Instagram or Twitter! Both of them are under the name bookofkellz, which is a play off of my name and the old illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells, which is very beautifully illustrated! My portfolio website (kellyleighmiller.com) is also a good place!

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Enjoying this series? Want to keep it going? Consider supporting me on Patreon for lots more exciting things in the future. Find out more here.

interview

Interview: Anna Green on Freelance Book Design, Working in the Garden, and Pastry Typography(!)

12:00 pm


Today's interview is a very exciting one, because it centres around a profession I've been interested in for years now: book design! I contacted Anna for an interview after seeing her fantastic cover for Madeline Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing (image later in post!), and she doesn't disappoint. We chatted about reading manuscripts in the garden, interesting journeys in typography, and how she became a freelance book designer. 

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Anna! First of all, for any readers who don’t know your background, tell me a little bit about yourself. 

Anna Green:
Hi Megan, and thank you for having me! My name’s Anna Green and I’m a book designer. I worked in-house at Random House for 7 years before going freelance in 2011, and now work with publishers and self-published authors all over the world. I love reading and love design, so for me it’s the perfect job.

Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your design style in three words, what would they be?

Anna Green:
Clean, colourful, type-led.

Magic & Musings:
I think your simple style and use of typography is what really drew me to your book covers in the first place.
When did you first get into design? Did you study it formally or come across it as a hobby? If you did study it formally, would you say this was a good or bad experience regarding allowing your creativity to flourish?

Anna Green:
My parents were both teachers and had both studied graphics themselves, so I took the very traditional route of Art & Graphics GCSEs, then Art A-Level, then Foundation, then Graphic Arts at LJMU. All levels took very different approaches but I loved university – lots of self-initiated projects interspersed with a good grounding in real-world working processes. 

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female-identifying and non-binary artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look at when you need a spark of inspiration?

Anna Green:
Legendary book designers Irma Boom and Elaine Lustig-Cohen, but also a huge number of female contemporaries, colleagues, and friends all producing incredible work – I’m privileged to be working alongside them.

Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Anna Green:
It’s normally the latest one to be honest! – I still feel like I’m always learning and improving even after a long time in the industry. 


Magic & Musings:
This is a question I like to ask purely because of the variety of answers I get! I’m really interested in how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done, like a milky cup of tea or a particular album of music you listen to? 

Anna Green:
I work from home and my office is up in the loft, which is great as I can shut myself away to concentrate… also, it keeps my ever-growing collection of books from taking over the house! But the absolute best thing is being able to sit in the garden and read a manuscript on a sunny day and let the ideas flow.

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Anna Green:
Go for a walk, or to an exhibition/bookshop/etc, anything to provide a bit of visual inspiration away from the computer. Or holidays are always good but they tend to require a bit more forward planning…!

Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools you use to create your designs? Are there any books on creativity and/or working for yourself you would recommend to others?

Anna Green:
I’m generally at the Mac but always love the more unusual ways of creating work – am sometimes to be found making type out of pastry or photographing it underwater, that kind of thing! 


Back when I first went freelance I bought Adrian Shaughnessy’s book How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul, which had some great advice for starting up, also there’s lots of helpful business articles on places like Creative Bloq. And for a handy set of print production examples for freelancers I would heartily recommend printhandbook.com.

Magic & Musings:
Have you ever explored working in another medium?

Anna Green:
Mainly on my Foundation course, and I quickly realised that I’m much better suited to working in 2D…! One of the great things about this job, though, is being able to work with amazing artists from all sorts of different disciplines – illustrators, photographers, textile designers, model makers etc – and of course some amazing writers too.


Magic & Musings:
What would you say your relationship is like between your business and the internet/social media? Would you say this has helped you greatly in your success, or not?

Anna Green:
It’s fantastic for research and inspiration – Pinterest for one and there are loads of great book design blogs (casualoptimist.com and spinemagazine.co to name just a couple). The internet/email is just invaluable to my work; I don’t really remember a time without it now!

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Anna Green:
Save copies of all your work for posterity! You think you’ll never forget them but I don’t think I ever realised quite how many titles I would work on!

Magic & Musings:
Onto a fun question! Can you recommend everyone reading a book you've enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song? 

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson – a lovely light read (by the author of the Moomins, no less!) set on a tiny Finnish island in the summer. Not a film, but I recommend Halt & Catch Fire to everyone and there’s hopefully one more season to go! And the album I have on at the moment is Panorama by Møme.

Magic & Musings:
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work? 

Anna Green:
Thanks so much for your interest in me and my work, it’s been a pleasure to chat to you! You can find my website at siulendesign.com and I’m also on Twitter and Pinterest.

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review

Spotlight on... Edgcumbes Tea Blenders!*

9:00 am


*Thank you to Edgcumbes for sending me some samples of their blends that they thought I would enjoy. All opinions are my own!*

When this parcel first arrived, it took less than an hour for me to brew a pot of Strawberry & Kiwi, and three days for the entire packet to be empty. It's safe to say I'm a fan of Edgcumbes Tea Blenders!

You might have heard of this company before if you received a teatourist box in May (the one month so far I haven't posted a review about!), as their Blend No. 45 was featured, which actually won a Great Taste award in 2016). Last month they sent me through three of their blends to try that they thought would be up my street based on the flavours I usually like. I received an oolong, a herbal brew, and a fruity one.

As I've already mentioned, the fruity Strawberry & Kiwi was an absolute winner, and I can tell this would be especially wonderful in the winter. It was sweet without being overpowering, and contains a selection of dried fruits in the blend. It's a really chunky loose tea, which I love because you can actually see the ingredients that go into it. I'd recommend leaving this to brew for 10 minutes at a minimum as it can take a while for whole fruits to release their flavours fully. Chuck some ice over this in the summer and you have the perfected iced tea. Definitely the best of the bunch, here. (Also contains hibiscus, so you know I'm going to love it.)

Next up is their Camomile with Fennel and Rose Petals blend. I'm not a huge fan of camomile tea, but this one took me by surprise. I think it would be perfect to have before bed as it has a simple and soothing flavour. The mention of fennel put me off at first, but it's a very subtle aniseed flavour that compliments this simple blend.

Finally I tried their Milk Oolong, a relatively new blend in the world of Taiwanese teas, apparently! Because of the way they're processed (and the fact they're semi-fermented), oolongs usually have a more intense taste than your usual green tea. They're definitely one of my favourite types of tea. Without the addition of any other flavours, this oolong contains hints of strawberry milk (!), lending itself to a creamy, buttery taste.

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You can find out more about Edgcumbes, their teas, and their coffees (!) on their website. I'd definitely recommend their Strawberry & Kiwi if you're a fan of fruity teas. They also stock teaware and ways to brew in their store if you're in the market for something to make your tea with, look no further.

interview

Interview: Amy Hodkin on Textile Design, Illustration as a Job, and Separating Yourself from Your Work

12:00 pm


A short but sweet interview today with textile designer Amy Hodkin. A recent graduate in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design, Amy creates sweet and colourful designs, often depicting lovely animals and patterns. Today we chat about having an artistic career and separating yourself from you work when the feedback isn't what you expected.

Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Amy! Would you like to introduce yourself and what you do? 

Amy Hodkin:
Thank you for interviewing me on your blog! My name is Amy Hodkin and I am a printmaker, illustrator, and textile designer based in Leeds, UK. 

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into surface pattern and textile design? Is this something you’ve been formally trained in?

Amy Hodkin:
I was introduced to surface pattern design in 2012 and it was really good for me as I finally realised I could put my drawings and paintings to some sort of use. I’ve recently finished my degree in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design and loved every single minute of it. 


Magic & Musings:
When did you first start sharing your designs online and did you find yourself overcoming any hurdles regarding your confidence?

Amy Hodkin:
I’ve always been sharing my work online but around 2014 is when I started to do it more frequently. It can be nerve-racking to put your work out there, especially as it’s quite a personal thing. My advice would be to try and separate yourself and your self worth from your work, as it is only a little part of you created and shared in that moment. The number of likes and engagement it has will not define your entire career!

Magic & Musings:
On Magic & Musings I love talking about female artists and their work. Which female artists, if any, would you say have been influences on your work? Do you have any favourites to look to when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Amy Hodkin:
I always adore the work of Maria Ines Gul, Carolyn Suzuki, and Gill Button.


Magic & Musings:
Of all of your designs, which are you the happiest with and why?

Amy Hodkin:
I’m happy with them all for different reasons. I design things to fit certain markets and concepts, so it’s hard to pick a favourite!

Magic & Musings:
I’m interested in knowing how people work and get things done. Do you have a particular place you work or find yourself the most productive? Are there a particular set of things that need to be in place for things to get done? A specific hot drink? A relaxing album?

Amy Hodkin:
I love working at a desk in a studio setting otherwise I’m easily distracted by YouTube. I also like drinking lots of tea!

Magic & Musings:
What do you do if you find yourself stuck in a rut creatively?

Amy Hodkin:
This is going to be a really annoying answer, but I haven’t really been in a creative rut. I suppose there are times when I feel overworked, so I just take a break for a few days. I like drawing in my sketchbooks when I’m out and about, watching movies, and visiting galleries for inspiration.


Magic & Musings:
What are your favourite tools you use to create your designs? Are there any books on creativity and/or working for yourself you would recommend to others?

Amy Hodkin:
I love to draw with ink and graphite, paint with gouache, and use Photoshop to put my designs together. 

Magic & Musings:
What one thing do you wish someone told you when you were first starting out working in this field?

Amy Hodkin:
Maybe that being a designer or illustrator is still a job and sometimes you will have to do things you don’t necessarily "like". I think because of social media we see the lives of these people through rose-tinted glasses and think how cool it must be to draw all day… But it isn’t always like that. You’re going to have the down days just like everybody else. 

Magic & Musings:
Can you recommend everyone reading a book you’ve enjoyed recently, as well as a film and an album or song?

Amy Hodkin:
It was a while ago now, but I enjoyed reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I recently watched Hunt for the Wilderpeople, which was really funny, and I don’t think I’ll ever get fed up of listening to the album Death of a Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco.

Magic & Musings:
Five stars for mentioning Panic! At The Disco!
Is there anything else you would like to say before we finish? How can people find out more about you and your work?

Amy Hodkin:
To any aspiring illustrators, designers and artists: don’t stop creating things, and it’s normal to make bad stuff every once in a while! I blog over at www.thecreativeoutlook.co.uk and you can follow my Instagram @amyhodkin for more frequent arty updates.

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