Interview: Vivian Mineker on Freelance Illustration, Art as Comfort Food, and Being Proactive

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Welcome back to the interview series! It's been a while, and a very busy year, but there are still more interviews to come, before moving on to new things...

Today's interview is with Vivian Mineker, a freelance illustrator with an adorable art style, and some fantastic answers to my questions! This interview was conducted last year so please excuse any inconsistencies, and I hope you enjoy finding out a little about Vivian, her ideas on art, and how she stays proactive.

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Magic & Musings:
Thank you for taking the time to answer some of my questions, Vivian! 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?

Vivian Mineker:
Thank you very much for chatting with me, it’s a pleasure! I have been working as a freelance illustrator for about a year and a half, before that I was also in the creative field but in another capacity. I’ve done work as an illustrator before as a side business. As I built up my portfolio and clientele I decided to quit my job and do this full-time. I went to school for animation; a lot of the same principles and techniques from that applied to my illustration, so it was somewhat of a natural transition for me. 
Magic & Musings:
If you could describe your illustrations in three words, what would they be?

Vivian Mineker:
Emotional comfort food. 

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

Vivian Mineker:
I don’t quite recall my first illustration post, but I started pretty early on, just putting my work on social media, mainly for friends and family so they could see what I was working on. As more and more people discovered and liked my work I started a separate Instagram account just for my illustrations, as well as Tumblr and Behance accounts. The support I got from social media definitely helped me feel more confident, and also just knowing what people like was a tremendous resource for my growth as an artist.


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?

Vivian Mineker:
Yes! There has been so many extremely talented female artists who have influenced me over the years that I can’t name them all right now. But I’m currently obsessing over Ira Sluyterman van Langeweyde (Iraville), Victo Ngai, and Cinta Vidal Agulló’s work. They constantly amaze me with the level of awesomeness of their work every time I look at them, I aspire to be on their level someday. Everybody check out their art! 


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

Vivian Mineker:
That is a tough one, I have several. But if I have to pick one now it would be the one of the girl hiking with the avocado family (see bottom!). That one was particularly fun to draw and I just love avocados. I’m really happy that I was able to portray one avocado as a family of three! And also it just feels great every time I get to do a landscape scene and it turned out well. 
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?

Vivian Mineker:
So I was travelling for about six months by myself not too long ago, and I discovered that I could draw and do work in a lot of different places and situations, as long as I was able to get a few specific things in place: a quiet corner where no one minds that I’m there for a long time, my art supplies (a few pencils, papers, and watercolor kit), a cup of coffee (preferably accompanied by some delicious dessert) and my phone for some music or a podcast (usually something nostalgic or relaxing, to get my mind into an easy place). 


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

Vivian Mineker:
Usually I’ll put on some music and take out my sketchbook and just clear my head and start drawing whatever comes to mind. This is kind of my palate cleanser, when I’ve been too caught up with work and deadlines, doing this help me clear my mind and get back into the creative zone. I think the most important thing is to just relax and let my artistic mind wander sometimes, without judgement or pressure of having to be productive all the time. 

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?

Vivian Mineker:
I can’t live without my collection of pencils, colored pencils, and watercolor set. My work is quite mixed media, I usually create the base illustration on paper with watercolor and colored pencils, then finish the rest on digitally. My favorite step in this process is at the end when I’m finishing and polishing everything up in Photoshop, and it just all comes together. It’s very satisfying. As far as books go, I highly recommend The Book from the Society of Children's Book Writers; they have a large collection of resource to help illustrators of all levels with the business of working for yourself. I also recently discovered books on watercolor technique written by Billy Showell, which are very insightful and useful for any artist looking to advance their watercolor skills. 


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?

Vivian Mineker:
I found social media to be very helpful as far as my confidence and insight to what people like. I have been fortunate enough to have majority of the responses of my work to be positive on social media; it’s been a great confidence booster as well as a source of motivation. However I still believe in finding business and building network the old fashion way - sending out postcards, calling publishers, going to book fairs etc. People appreciate the proactivity and it is always better to give a personal touch to every potential client. That being said, a few jobs I’ve had so far were direct results of my social media presence, so it is still a great resource to have, I just would not recommend relying on it as the only mean of getting work. 

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

Vivian Mineker:
Always work on a project. Doesn’t matter if it’s for a friend, a family member, an acquaintance, or just for yourself. Always work on something that you like and set goals. It will help you keep motivated, inspired, and get you drawing/painting everyday, and I think those are some of the most important things to keep in mind as an illustrator. 


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?

Vivian Mineker:
I’m in the middle of reading the first book of the Remembrance of Earth's Past series - The Three-Body Problem; it’s a pretty mind blowing book, I’m loving it so far! I just recently watched Deliverance for the first time (gasp!) and it was great! Not the pick-me-up movie of the year for sure but I really enjoyed it. As far as music goes, I’ve been listening to a lot of The National lately, especially their most recent Trouble Will Find Me album, almost on repeat. Can’t wait for their new album coming out soon! Also I have to mention my love for the artist Adna, her music is amazing. 

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?

Vivian Mineker:
I just want to thank you for all the wonderful questions, they were great and I really enjoyed chatting with you! There are several ways to follow my work, the most updated is definitely my Instagram @vivian.mineker. Also my website at VivianMineker.com, my Tumblr, and Behance. Again, thank you very much Megan, it’s been a pleasure! 

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