Interview: Illustrator “Fionna Fernandes”

When did you realize you wanted to be an illustrator?
I realized I wanted to be an illustrator while studying Visual Communications at University. Through my course, I learnt about illustration, where all my electives were Illustration related. Ever since I have been motivated to draw everyday and develop my visual style. 
What drew you to illustration specifically?
I was drawn to illustration, since I wanted to make a living doing what I love. I have always aspired to see my work published in books and magazines. I liked the idea of working for many different clients and brands, constantly learning new things with every job at hand. Being my own boss and setting my own working hours appealed to me as well!
Where do you tend to get your inspiration?
My main sources of inspiration include: Childhood influences like Lisa Frank, Super Mario and My Little Pony; 90’s cartoons, fashion and graphics; Disney films and characters; Japanese culture, particularly kawaii (cute) clothing, food and toys; Fashion labels such as Lazy Oaf, Spangled and Skinnydip London; Other illustrators including Laura Callaghan, Hattie Stewart; Instagram, where I follow the work of artists, brands and fashion bloggers I like; and Pinterest, where I gather images of fashion, nature, and art that I enjoy.
How would you describe your style?
My visual style is playful, fun and energetic. My style is unique through my use of vibrant colour combinations and expressive mark making patterns. There is a youthful flavour to my aesthetic.
What does colour mean to you?
To me, colour is fun and expressive. It allows me to create vibrant and energetic illustrations. Through multiple colours, I am able to convey joyful and upbeat emotions in my work. 
How would you describe your creative process?
I initially begin with a mock-up image in Photoshop to help me visualize a composition. I produce a refined sketch based on this. I use an Artline pen for my line work, and acrylic paint for the light-hearted pattern backgrounds. I scan in the line work and background patterns onto the computer. I use Adobe Photoshop to add colour, shading and distinctive highlights, as well as combine digital and hand generated elements.
What is your favourite medium to work with?
My favourite medium is Adobe Photoshop. I have fond memories experimenting with Photoshop during visual arts in high school. I would look up online tutorials to try and develop my skills and knowledge of the program everyday. My passion for creating really took off when I discovered Photoshop.  
Are there any other techniques or materials you would like to explore in the future?
I would like to create work that combines illustration and photography, similar to Hattie Stewart. I would love to collaborate with a photographer to achieve this. I think my illustrations that experiment with sticker icons would work particularly well with photography.
Is there a reason for you illustrating mostly women?
I love drawing attention to certain aspects of the female face, particularly the eyes, lips and hair. Through my work I like to depict women as confident and bold. I see all women as beautiful and enjoy portraying girls from different cultural backgrounds. 
What keeps you motivated? 
I am often motivated to illustrate as I genuinely enjoy drawing. However, I am grateful for how many people follow and like what I do on Instagram, as it encourages me to create illustrations on a weekly basis. 
Can you tell us about your paper sculptures?
I created paper bird sculptures for a university assignment that required us to experiment with three-dimensional illustration. My tutor and peers loved the series. I submitted the designs to the Australian Design Biennale 2014, where I was selected as a finalist in the “Student Illustration” Category. It was great to receive recognition for my creative work on a national scale.
What do you think it is about illustration that appeals to people?
I think illustration appeals to people since it has the ability to communicate ideas in a fun, fresh and exciting way. Illustrations are also able to provide entities and brands with greater style, individuality and character.
Do you have a one favourite illustration amongst your work?
My favourite illustration is “Candy Pink”, a portrait of a girl with pink hair and freckles. I am particularly fond of this image because it was the first time I experimented with multiple pastel colours. The colour scheme and patterns remind me of My Little Pony and jellybeans. The girl’s gaze is also very fixating.
What do you feel has been your biggest achievement so far?
I feel my biggest achievement so far is being an illustrator represented by Illustration Ltd. It is a great honour to be on a roster with an exceptionally broad and diverse range of leading contemporary artists.
Do you have a favourite artist (illustrator or otherwise)?
My favourite artist is Laura Callaghan. Laura Callaghan’s work is incredibly detailed, super colourful, and lady oriented. Her female characters are badass and beautiful, inspiring me to illustrate women with individuality. 
What do you think sets your illustrations apart from others?
My illustrations are unique through the hand-generated line work and background patterns. I feel my illustrations would look artificial and computerized without this.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an illustrator?
If I weren’t an illustrator, I would be a graphic designer since I studied Visual Communications. If I chose another field, I may have become a veterinary nurse. I am very passionate about animals. My family has 2 cats, 2 dogs, a bird and many fish! 
If you had the chance to work in any other city in the world, where would you go and why?
I would like to work in the UK, since many of my favourite fashion brands are based there and I would love to collaborate with them. I also dream to work in the US, to possibly work with Lisa Frank and Disney. 
Do you have any advice for aspiring illustrators? 
Practice drawing whenever possible to constantly develop your visual style. 
Never give up on your dream, keep trying to work towards it. It takes a lot of patience, practice and passion. If you work hard enough you will be able to achieve it. 
What are your goals for the next 5 years in your career?
In the future, I would like to set up an online store where I can sell prints and merchandise of my work. I would also like to have a greater presence in countries other than Australia, particularly the UK, US and Japan. I hope to gain a larger social media following to expand my audience. It would also be amazing to illustrate a fashion or children’s book.






ISSUE 21 - SUMMER 2019