When we decided to re-do the content and look of our site, we knew we wanted to return to our roots of digital illustrations. When we switched to photography, it was due to time and money. We had neither. Luckily with some funding we got last year, we were able to afford one of my favorite illustrators Veronica Pham of Champaign, IL.
As we recently uploaded all eleven of her fantastic illustrations, we had time to sit down with her and ask her about her process. Below is the quick interview!
1. Tell me a bit about your artistic practice. What are you interested in?
My practice is a lot of mediums working together to create something that speaks to who I am, and what I believe in. I work in the medium of paper-making using recycled materials from textile cotton to local prairie grass to make paper, and sculptural paintings. In paper-making, I feel like I have the most relationship with what I use in my work because I have to go through so many steps in order to create paper, from harvesting the fiber, cooking, beating, pressing, pulling and drying. In this process, I get to experience the deep connection I have with nature, and where my material comes from. In my illustrations, I also take what I’ve made into paper and create image scans to use in my digital work, creating textures and layers.
2. Where do you see your art going in the few years? What’s your next big project?
I hope to be able to continue making work that allows me to understand my materials, where it comes from, and the impact I have in the world. Pairing down and living simply, has always been important in my life and it goes with my art making as well. I want to allow the materials I use to speak for itself, and make work that is conscious of our ecosystems, rather than just take and consume. In terms of “on-going, next” big project, well, hopefully we will have converted our school bus turned off-grid, tiny home in the next few years and my present work will evolve, travel, and adapt in the environment that I am in.
3. How did you approach this project for Renourish? In other words, what was your process?
I knew right away I wanted to incorporate paper that I made from plant fibers into this project. Renourish is about being design conscious amidst climate change and with agri-fiber paper-making being so important in Renourish I also wanted my work to reflect that vision. One illustration consists of many layers, and each layer is of paper made from agricultural fibers (hemp, corn, big blue stem, miscanthus). Each paper that I scanned in was made by hand—to harvesting the agri-fiber, to cooking it, to beating it, to pulling it, to pressing it, and finally drying it—to finally get one piece of paper. There was a total of 20 different pieces of paper that I scanned in order to create each layer for this project. After that it, I allowed the textures from the paper scans to inform my composition and content.
4. What artists and designers influence your work?
Van Gogh will always heavily influence my work because of his attention to detail in how he observes simple objects, and the world. But really, it’s because he was just such a brilliant human. More recently Oliver Jeffers has really influenced my work in terms of illustration. From his quirky children’s books, paintings, to social-political activism, his work is really quite enchanting. Let’s see, some more artists that influence my work: Kara Walker, Mary Cassatt, Helen Frankenthaler, Yukai Du.
5. What advice do you have for younger artists and illustrators who are trying to place their work in the world?
Reach out to the people and organizations that you look up to—and don’t be scared! Do what you can to organize events that help not only yourself but your neighboring artist as well. When you learn about being a human first, the artist will follow.
Here is a timelapse video of Veronica’s process!