August 10, 2016

Talking Pokemon, vibrant colours and cultural diversity with London based illustrator, Stephanie Unger…

UO: Tell us about how you got into illustration.

I’ve been into drawing from a young age. I always loved to draw my favourite cartoons such as Dragonball Z and Pokemon. My big sister is also big on drawing and we would spend hours copying VHS covers or making up our own comic books to show each other. We really helped motivate each other to continue being creative. I think it was inevitable I was going to have a career in illustration.

UO: You use a lot of vibrant and contrasting colours in your designs; where does your inspiration come from?

Using vibrant colours has always been very important to me when producing work. I think the importance of colour probably first occurred to me when I used to buy the ‘Art of Disney’ books back at college and they would have a whole section dedicated to the colour schemes which would fascinate me.

I love Misaki Kawai’s work and how she uses bright colours; sometimes they are almost questionable but that’s what I love about it! For me it’s not just about putting pretty colour combinations together, that’s too sensible; it’s about making sure your colours set the right feeling and belong to your image and not like they’ve been thrown in right at the end.

UO: Your work ranges from traditional processes such as print to CAD and even some ceramics; what medium do you prefer to work in?

Trying different mediums has been so beneficial to my work. Each process I have experimented with has fed into the way my work looks today. My favourite medium to work with is Posca pens. They are immediate and there is no need to get a water pot and paint palette out, you can just go for it and get a bold, solid colour down.

UO: How does your work environment affect your creative process?

Does London count as my working environment? I’ve lived in London my whole life and it has had a big influence in my work. I have a fond and nostalgic attachment to everyday environments of the city such as Fried Chicken Shops and Barbers. This leads to my positive and colourful interpretation of them in my work. I have a recent obsession of where the ‘exotic’ meets London. London is so culturally diverse and I find it fascinating to see what becomes embedded in our culture. An example of this is the simple things that have become a staple in local off licences such as ‘Ting’ or tinned pineapple slices. I often find London is the starting point for a lot of my work.

UO: What made you decide to provide your art to artists for tour merchandise?

I never really decided, it was just an opportunity that was presented to me. I have friends in the band ‘Basement’ and they needed some merch designs for their upcoming tour. They’re the loveliest guys and they gave me a lot of freedom when it came to the design of the t-shirts so it was a really fun project to work on.

UO: What’s your go-to playlist when you are creating your art?

Honestly…I don’t often choose to listen to music when I’m creating art. I often find myself getting too distracted and not being able to properly focus. My favourite thing to have on while I draw is TV. I feel my most relaxed and find myself producing better work and ideas. Growing up my parents would always leave the television on and it would be the background noise to when I was drawing. I guess it’s something to do with keeping in touch with my childhood self. I can have any old rubbish on, whether it’s Come Dine with Me or Eastenders – the worse the better.

UO: How would you describe your artistic style?

My work is playful and is built up of bold colours and simple shapes. Really it’s just a culmination of things that have influenced me over the years and what naturally comes out on paper.

UO: What does the future hold for Stephanie Unger?

I want to continue to have fun making my own work and to see where I can take it. I loved seeing my designs on clothes so I’d definitely like to do more of that. I’d also like to see my art in other interesting places such as on a tapestry or as a mural. Failing that I’d like to win the lottery, retire early and live in a beach house in the Philippines with a cute dog.