For issue 3, our Australia issue, we're playing just a tad with the Lodestars Anthology design. A big part of this plan is Sydney-based illustrator Belinda Xia. While we can't divulge any more (you've only got to wait until August for the magazine), we can share this interview with the effervescent Australian creative. Let's hope it inspires you to crack out the pencils and see the world in colour.
Where did you train and how did you come to be an illustrator?
I did a Visual Communications degree at uni but other than that I’m a self-taught illustrator. I always loved drawing from a young age but was encouraged to steer towards a more 'conventional' career. It took some experimentation to find a medium which I enjoyed (and was good at!) and it evolved from there. Illustrating was initially just an on-the-side creative outlet, but is fast becoming so much more!
Can you describe your style?
Clean, elegant and pretty. With pops of humour and silliness - I’m a sucker for a good pun.
What inspires your work?
Clean lines and beautiful details. Fashion is definitely an inspiration - I find the textures, shapes and forms so alluring and with a graphic design background, I like to look at composition (I particularly love white space) when putting my own works together.
I find illustrating in general allows a greater appreciation for details because you’re made to recreate someone else’s work and must represent it beautifully!
4) What is the best thing about your job?
Being creative on a daily basis and being able to find inspiration anywhere! I went to a herb garden workshop one weekend and left wanting to paint them all. Constantly evolving stylistically is another perk, I’m always learning - never sit still. However don’t be fooled, I also work extremely hard through long hours and sacrifices - but it’s worth it. I couldn’t do it without the support of my partner, family and friends.
Fashion and the natural world seems to infiltrate your work quite a bit - is this intentional and why does it play such an important role?
I’ve always loved fashion (like most little girls) and started off drawing things I couldn’t afford to buy - I had to have them one way or another! I suppose you tend to look for ways to combine the things you love so you can have them selfishly in one place. To be honest, flowers first featured in my works because I was rubbish at drawing them and wanted to practise - I can never do them justice!
Does Australia influence your work in any way?
I love drawing Australian fashion - does that count? We have a unique quirk and effortlessness in our shapes and style that I’m so proud of. I think the silliness in some of my works also comes from the great Aussie sense of humour.
Illustrating the Australian wildflowers in [the upcoming Australia issue] was actually a lot of fun - capturing the beauty of our own backyard!
Is there a creative community in Sydney?
Definitely! Perhaps it’s not as boisterous as say New York or Berlin, but Sydney is teeming with creative talent in our galleries, restaurants and shops. Brewery Yard Markets is a lovely boutique-feel market in the city which showcases beautiful work by some very talented artists. I find Sydney’s creatives are very supportive of each other and there’s a real community vibe.
Has there been a project (past, present or future) that you’ve particularly enjoyed?
My entire illustration career has been an absolute joy because it still surprises me that I can get paid to do something I love so much.
Pet commissions are particularly special because they come with a personal connection and story that I feel lucky to be a part of. I was recently commissioned to draw a one-eyed dog back when it had both eyes. So many interesting stories indeed!
What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Start. Regardless of what your passion is! I umm-ed and aah-ed for so long, and now seeing how far I’ve come in the relatively short time - I wish I’d started sooner! If you’re motivated to do it in the evenings after eight hours at a desk job, you’ve definitely found your calling!
To learn more about Belinda, and order a print, click here.