21 Jun 2012

Featured: Zyzanna's Illustrated Wonders!

Today we are hanging out Zyzanna, one of our absolute favorite illustrators, and we are really excited to share this interview with you :) If you haven't discovered her yet, you are in for a real treat! Zyzanna creates the most whimsical drawings of birds, trees and creatures from the deep that you'll want to fill your wardrobe with all her beautiful brooches... and then start filling everyone elses!

So Zyzanna, tell us a bit about yourself...
My name is Zyzanna (or at least that's what everyone calls me since school). I live in beautiful yet rainy Edinburgh. I graduated from Illustration at the Edinburgh College of Art and now I am trying to Live the Dream! It is harder than what everyone thinks ;)
My little business at the moment goes by the same name as me ;). Right now I mainly make brooches with my illustrations, that most of is based on animals and natural things. I am in the middle of setting up textiles printing facilities to make more accessories with my illustrations! And then ultimately I am planning to take over the world! :)

How do you work?
I like best working whilst sat on my desk, or cosy on the sofa with a cup of tea. I mainly draw with ink, sometimes colour it on the computer. Sometimes I go wild and get out my paints or make 3D things or sew, but the bulk is the inky stuff. I have a separate sketchbook for every aspect of what I do. I.e. I have a separate one for the trees thing, separate one for future possible designs of stuff and website design stuff, separate one for random scribbles, and another 5 for all sorts of different things. (As you know) I also have a bunch of separate pens for every particular thing I do.
On an Ideal Day I get up fairly early and go for a swim. Then I check my e-mails etc, (half an hour to an hour on an ideal day, but quite often more :P) and then look at The List. I am a notorious listmaker, and I really like things organized (or at least pretend that they are). I have a special notebook dedicated to lists! They normally are too full to archieve, but if I can get done half of the things that is pretty successfull (to my mind anyway!). And on the Ideal Day I will get lots of things done, so I can score them off the list (and this is superbly satisfying). Sometimes I will get distracted with something, not even internet related, and will end up finishing that book or drawing something random that's not related to any current plans.

Is there anything you would love to illustrate but feel like you just can't quite capture (for me, it's pug dogs!)
Probably 90% of my illustrations come to life in my head and then when they are put onto paper they look nothing like what I imagined... It is notorious with Illustration Friday themes. I would also love to be able to draw proper superhero comics (like Wolverine), but they never look quite muscular enough!
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Moving out from home with a one way ticket and surviving! (And not having to go back!)

When you're having a crap day, what do you find motivates you?
I don't have crap days very often, I try to be too busy to notice. Otherwise I look at my List of what needs doing and try to move on to the next point! If one thing is not working out, try another.

What have you found has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
Work hard, but have time to rest too. 

What are your top 3 ways of finding inspiration?
Biology stuff, reading books, going for walks.
I love animals but a lot of it is from the weird scientific factual point of view. I remember reading a massive biology book when I was 10 for the entertainment values. Fact I remember from the book: If you cut a starfish in half it will grow back. There was a time somewhere sometime when starfish were doing a lot of damage to the fishing places, so whenever the fishermen would catch starfish they would cut it in half and throw it back in the water... Little did they know! Anyway, I love drawing animals and could do it all day long... Particularly marine ones. For me watching an Attenborough documentary is more entertaining than an action movie.
Reading books is probably my number two. And not just the earlier mentioned biology textbooks! My favouritest books ever are the Moomin books. Partially because of the illustrations which are probably my Ideal Illustrations and I am sure you can see lots of influence in my own pictures. But I like anything that draws you in and you have to finish the book before proceeding with your normal life ;)
Going for walks clears my head and I like forests and trees and wild berries and picking mushrooms (which I haven't done in years and would probably pick all the poisonous ones). And sometimes you get to see a deer! What more to ask for? :) 

Do you have any advice for other people starting their own small business?
I feel it is too early for me to be able to give people advice! But I try to set myself small archievable goals with a Big Goal further on in mind.
Where can we find you?
I try to hide from general public, so most of the time you can't! However, some of my work is available in Drill Hall Cafe in Leith in Edinburgh, or if you don't live locally it is available on my etsy page. I'm really into the online presence, so I have personal website, blog, twitter, tumblr and facebook accounts. I also ave a separate tumblr account fully dedicated to my latest project: Grow A Forest (a tree a day for 365 days). As of now I can't think of any more links to things to include ;).
narwhal brooch

Finally, tell us what your guilty pleasure is... 
Footwear. I have a particular love for cowboy boots, but I can't wear them very often here in Edinburgh (they get ruined in the rain!)
I also overuse emoticones. Particularly :), ;) and :P. (I hate :-) etc).

our very own vivid please tree, growing in zyzannas forest!

Thanks so much for taking the time to come and share with us today Zyzanna! It's so great to get an insite into your beautiful work, we find your illustrations super inspiring and we're sure everyone else will too. You make us want to draw more for sure! We particularly adore your Grow A Forest project, which is possibly one of the greatest "one a day" in cyberspace, especially now the Vivid Please tree has started to sprout!

Are you as big a fan of Zyzanna's land of whimsy as us? We'd love to hear what you think :D
Pop over to her etsy boutique to discover more incredible creations that will brighten up your wardrobe in a snap (we'll take one of everything thanks!) And be sure to hit up her all her awesome links to see what she's been working on lately... Whether it's a tree a day or a skeletal masterpiece on Fridays, we're sure you'll be obsessed before you know it!

Enjoy :)

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  1. Beautiful drawings! I am really impressed by the detail put into the packaging. Wonderful interview, thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks for commenting Amy!
    We agree, her packaging is beautiful too :) so inspiring I'd keep it on my wall!
    Glad you enjoyed the interview :D

  3. I love the octopus bag. That's like me. I have to carry EVERYTHING up the stairs at once (I have a walk up apartment).

    1. Heehee! We know that feeling :B
      Thanks for commenting Jensangled Threads, we're pleased you can relate ;)