It was a cool summer evening when I attended the grand opening event for Kyubu Market, a portal celebrating local Vancouver artists to showcase their talents. I am glad I attended, because it was here that I laid eyes upon the 'happy illustrations' created by artist Laura Uy - they are happy illustrations because upon first glance they made me smile.
I was fortunate enough to connect with Laura after that evening to ask her a few questions regarding her path and her craft. Get to know her in the interview below.
What inspired you to become an illustrator?
When I was young, my favourite thing to do was draw. I just loved the process of creating something from nothing, and sharing it with others. All those doodles in the margins of my school notebooks during super boring math classes were secretly preparing me to become an illustrator!
What was your journey to discover your illustration style?
I’m a self-taught artist, so at the beginning it was all about trying different mediums and painting things I liked. It took practice and persistence until I found a way of painting that felt natural as a form of self-expression. My style is constantly changing though as I continue to keep experimenting and honing my craft.
Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
My inspiration usually comes from my travels and adventures. For example, once I went to the zoo and saw an adorably plump penguin waddling around. I did a few quick sketches and then sat down later to paint the little guy. I named him Dumpling and since then, he’s been forever immortalized as part of my animal print series.
What inspired your recent collection of travel illustrations? (I especially love the Hong Kong and Osaka pieces as I am originally from Hong Kong and lived in Osaka for a year - illustrates the cities perfectly!)
My brothers and I went to Japan a few months ago and we visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Miyajima. Each area had such a unique vibe that I was inspired to create an illustration for each place. That’s how my Travel Series started, and now I’m looking back at all the cities I’ve been, and slowly painting my way through them!
Which is your favourite city that you have illustrated and why?
My favourite so far is Reykjavik – it’s such a magical place. My best friend and I went last winter and it was such a memorable trip. We got to see the Northern Lights and experience the raw beauty of Iceland as we drove through the country. I would definitely go back again!
What items do you like drawing the most?
I like to draw + paint nature. I love exploring the forms of mountains and trees, and then recreating them with a mix of sharp geometric shapes and smooth flowing lines.
Share your favourite art piece with us - either illustrated by you or another artist you admire.
This one’s tough – there are so many great artists out there. Since I’ve been talking so much about nature, I really like Conrad Jon Godly’s 3D mountain paintings. They’re so amazing.
Who is your idol?
My answer is always MR. BEAN. Really, he’s an artist in his own way, doing his own thing. Rowan Atkinson is bloody brilliant.
What was your childhood dream? What is your dream / goal now?
I think my childhood dream was to have a restaurant called COUCH POTATO that only served potato dishes. Then I realized I can’t cook for the life of me so that was the end of that. Seriously though, being an artist is my dream job so I’m super happy doing what I do now!
If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you want to meet and why?
Gollum. I want the one ring to rule them all.
Who is your biggest cheerleader that keeps you going?
My husband. He is sooo supportive of what I do and he encouraged me to be an artist in the first place. Even when I was unsure about what I wanted to do in life, he always thought that I should pursue my art and do what I was truly passionate about.
When you are having a bad day what cheers you up?
Food. I think sometimes I forget to eat because I am so absorbed in working on a project and I end up becoming hangry without even knowing it. One bite of pizza usually makes me happy again.
What is next for you? Where do you want your life and career to go?
I want to work on some new murals. I’ve painted a few in the past, but I want to do more! I absolutely love working on a larger scale and I thrive on the challenge.
There may be readers who are reading this who have always wanted to be an artist but are afraid to take the first step and/or to lose stability in their careers - what words of wisdom do you have to share with these aspiring artists?
It’s never too late to start! For two years, I worked full-time at an art studio teaching kids how to paint, and then I would go home and create my own art until 3am. I continued practicing my painting and developing my style until I felt confident sharing it with the world. I believe if you are really passionate about something, you will find the time to work on it!
A big thank you to Laura for sharing her passion and inspirations with us. We can't wait to see more of Laura's illustrations in Vancouver and around the world. She holds promising talent with an ability to bring joy to your every day. Visit her website to see more of her creative, happy illustrations!