Just like us Tierney Milne is a big fan of bold colours and graphic shapes! Studying both Psychology and Illustration Tierney loves bringing feelings or ideas to life excited by being able to experiment. Intentionally not wanting to pigeon hole herself, Tierney’s work doesn’t necessarily fit into one category or another.
What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design? As a child, I was really in love with Eye-Spy books and the colourful jewel-toned flat graphics of Sailor Moon and Lisa Frank. That love of dense, seemingly chaotic tactile design paired with bold colours and graphic shapes is something that has stuck with me since. I’ve always drawn and kept up the creative side of my life, even as I pursued Sciences and eventually Psychology in my first degree. After graduating I realized that I preferred applied Psychology, thinking about how people feel and perceive and using that to inform designs and communication. This made me change my course and continue on to do a 3 year Illustration and Design program (the IDEA program, Capilano University).
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
The work that I do does not necessarily fit nicely into one category or another, which is an intentional choice on my part. I am most passionate about bringing feelings or ideas to life through some sort of tactile means– whether that is creating stop motion animations for clients, lasercut wood assemblages for galleries, outdoor and indoor murals, or more traditional design work. I find that I am most excited by being able to experiment and be curious about materials and incorporate a playful element into everything I create.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been working on.
I recently wrapped up a collaboration with Vancouver-based letterer JP (@brotherjopa) on a circular basketball court for Lululemon here in Vancouver. It was a big learning curve for us and an incredibly short timeline, but we were both so inspired and motivated by seeing the impact that it was making on local residents. The natural engagement and excitement of people using the space left me feeling more satisfied than nearly any other project, and I plan to do more collaborations to bring art to life in a public, functional way.
How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?
Developing my style was something that I didn’t really plan out, although looking back I can definitely see a recognizable thread through my pieces. I’ve always really loved combining bright colours, graphic shapes and patterns, but initially avoided using them because I worried the overall look felt too childish and would never be taken seriously by clients I actually admired and would want to work with. Once I started to actually embrace that natural inclination and realized that there is definitely a market for people who enjoy this playful style, like I do, I stopped fighting myself so much on developing my skills.
One of the most useful things I’ve done for improving has been to always try and have a personal series on the go. These non-client projects are short (usually I only take a day for each) but are purely for playing with a small concept or technique that I feel a heart-beating-faster kind of excitement over. When it gets particularly hard to self-motivate these projects, I like to do daily challenges like 36 Days of Type that come with with built-in accountability by needing to stick to the schedule and wanting to interact with other participants as the challenge unfolds. Whether you’re doing it to develop an existing skill or style, or to finally motivate yourself to try a new one, I find this kind of intense schedule of daily practice (even if just for a short burst) has a huge impact on sharpening and honing in on exactly what inspires and excites you.
Whats the big goal in the next five years?
I’m really excited about the possibility of bringing my love of psychology and designed illustration together to create immersive experiences, installations and environments for people. I’ve always tried to first focus on how myself and others would be interacting with a project and what emotion seems exciting to elicit from that interaction, and only really think about the specific medium or style afterwards. Now more than ever, I love the idea of being able to scale up and facilitate unexpected moments of joy in people’s lives through adding, for example, something as simple as colour and patterns to public spaces.
How important is networking to you? The word ‘networking’ always left a bad taste in my mouth, until I realized it was something I was already happily doing everyday when, for example, I’d get excited about others’ work and share that excitement with them. This style of community-building (or, as I like to think of it, talking to people I like about things we’re both passionate about) is hugely important to me. I genuinely love to connect over shared ideas and observations about the world, and have found that people are really generous with their time when your intentions come from an authentic place of curiosity. I’ve found lately that the most exciting and fruitful opportunities that come my way have been the result of reaching out and having curious conversations with people in different creative or technical fields than my own.