Interview: Binny Talib on Illustration, Wallpaper Design, and Art Installations Abroad

12:00 pm


The wonderful Binny Talib is answering my questions today! She's the illustrator and author of a book I've previously reviewed on my blog, the lovely Origami Heart, as well as a designer and commercial art installation creator. We had a chat about her times working abroad, the differences between her illustration styles, and the ways she busts out of a creative rut.

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

Binny Talib:
My name is Binny, and I have recently moved back to Sydney from a couple of years creating in wonderful, eclectic, fast-paced Hong Kong. I am now back home living in Sydney near the city. I love fast, busy, and bustling places. I am an illustrator/designer/author. I write and illustrate contemporary children’s books, design wallpaper, art direct branding projects, draw fashion illustration, and create commercial art installation concepts. 

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

Binny Talib:
Children’s: graphic, retro, linear.

Fashion: whimsical, fluid, minimal.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first get into illustration? Was it something that was important to you in your childhood?

Binny Talib:
I was most definitely one of the kids always drawing everything in primary school. There were about give keen drawers in the class and we all became professional artists in some way. My mother is an artist and was influential; it was very normal to spend a holiday drawing or painting in some way. My drawings when I was young were very precise and realistic in style. I didn’t break out of that until university. I used to give my friends at university illustrations as gifts (poor suckers), and my first jobs as a designer all contained illustration work.


Magic & Musings:
Have you received any formal art or illustration training?

Binny Talib:
I started studying architecture at UTS in Sydney, and transferred into Visual Communication where I majored in illustration and film.

Magic & Musings:
When did you first start sharing your illustrations online and did you have to overcome any self-confidence barriers in order to get to that place?

Binny Talib:
I had a personal website early on in website land. It was very exciting and nerve-wracking. It however has landed me many jobs from all over the world. I think there is an element of bravery putting your work online, but its essential.

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?

Binny Talib:
Oh so many, and so varied, from film, art, illustration, fashion, photography, and design. A few would be Frida Khalo, Camilla Engman, Garance Dore, Sophia Coppola, Stella McCartney, Yayoi Kusama, May Gibbs, Del Kathryn Barton, and Mary Blair. 

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

Binny Talib:
I always thumbnail on paper. Sometimes I use pen and ink pot. I love the natural mess of the lines. I am also in love with my Apple pencil and iPad, and I have a beautiful Cintiq by Wacom, so I usually finish all my artwork digitally. I have a huge collection of digital brushes of all textures.

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

Binny Talib:
Oh my! That’s a hard one. I really love my illustrations in my book I wrote, illustrated, and designed for Hachette called Origami Heart. It's set in Japan, one of my favourite places, and my publisher was incredibly open about letting me do my own slightly edgy style for the book. I like the vintage yet contemporary style and minimalist colour palette.


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?

Binny Talib:
I always work in group studios/co-working spaces. I need other people's energy to bounce off. I need to be out of the house and in 'work mode'. I have a large 1970s Astro Boy that has been on my desk since my first job. It even moved internationally. I drink copious cups of non-caffeinated dandelion tea, and always have a mix of electronic/electro pop/chill music. Although I am fairly chaotic digitally and in real life, my desk space is one beautiful moleskin sketchbook, laptop, and giant Cintiq.

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

Binny Talib:
I have briefly flirted with painting, and my early work was all pen and ink.

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

Binny Talib:
I am addicted to Pinterest, and book shops. I just went to the most amazing one in my life in Daikanyama in Tokyo! Switching off and going for a run or a walk. Going back to pencil and paper is very important for the beginning of an idea. I never start digitally; the ideas don’t seem to flow. I need to scribble indecipherable thoughts and thumbnails onto paper. 

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

Binny Talib:
It’s a bit cliché, but it's so true: be your own style, stop comparing, try not to look at other illustrator's work, get your inspiration from other areas of life. Be kind to yourself and be prepared for some knock-backs and criticism. And my favourite, told to me by my marvelous illustration teacher, “just keep going”


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?

Binny Talib:
Reading: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. It is so beautiful, and descriptive, and the characters are enigmatic and quietly charming. The environments are unusual and so vivid; I get very clear images from his writing. 

Listening: Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe.

Watching: Anything by Wes Anderson, especially Moonrise Kingdom and the Grand Budapest Hotel. His art direction is simply superb. Such incredible colour palettes and compositions. There are so many stills from the films you could hang on your wall. A true inspirational visionary. 


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?

Binny Talib:
I am delighted to be part of your wonderful interviews. I feel privileged to be part of the thriving female creative community. I am also lucky to have a lovely literary agent and supportive publisher. I love the range of work I do, in Hong Kong I was designing large installations for amazing malls, and drawing live at fashion events. I am back home and have an exciting book project with amazing Sydney author Lisa Shannahan launching shortly called, Hark It's Me, Ruby Lee


Instagram accounts:
Children’s books: @binnyillustration
Fashion: @bonjourbinny
Book Character: @kabukirabbit

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