Featured Illustrator

Amina Bouajila

July 2019

We chat with Illustrator Amina Bouajila about her younger years, and the progression of her illustrations throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. We discuss the impact a proper workspace outside of the home has on creativity and productivity, and we hear of her dreams to illustrate her first children's book.

Any hilarious stories about you as a kid being creative?

I grew up on the ocean side of France, so I basically spend all my summers at the beach. The only thing I was drawing back then were people in swimsuits, kids playing in the sand... Everything changed as a teenager, where I suddenly hated the sun and summer. It was all about black, gothic clothing and metal music. I was only drawing tattooed, pierced pale people that honestly looked a bit suicidal. Now that I am a grown-up, I finally got back to drawing lightly dressed people, sun and beaches, adding some aliens, distorted walls and flowers. I think my work has always been a reflection of my mood.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

I'm really not a morning person, so I need my slow life routine before I can get to work: I do yoga before each day of work, this helps me to wake up and breathe because I'm a very anxious person in general. It also really helped me with my back problems, and helped to stay in a seated position for a long time. Then, when I'm ready, I do all the emailing and commercial part and executive work. If I need to brainstorm on new ideas I usually wait after 3 pm, that's when I'm the most focused, and if I can I wait the day after to send my ideas to the clients, just to be more objective and make sure the ideas are good enough!

What's the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I think it is something I knew already: find somewhere else than your home to work. I know that when you just start as a freelancer it's hard because the money is little, but it's worth it! Working with other people helps a lot to be creative and productive, to ask feedback when needed and exchange point of views... And lunch breaks are a bit funnier too!

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When I'm at work, especially if I work for myself, I try to open my mind as much as I can and to get rid of my realistic and tangible representation of the world.

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How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

When I started to do illustration back in Art school, I was into every kind of tools I could try: textile, stencil, etching, ink, pencils, painting, collages, embroidery..etc. I think I was really trying to understand my creative personality but it was really hard for me to decide which tool suited me best. At some point, I genuinely got back to pencils and pens, and these last few years I did mostly digital colouring. I still draw on paper though, I think I just love it :) For the creative part, I'm always curious about what other people do, Instagram is a wonderful tool to stay tuned. I also go very often too small press events to see what's new, it's super inspiring and I love to collect handmade/handprinted matter. When I'm at work, especially if I work for myself, I try to open my mind as much as I can and to get rid of my realistic and tangible representation of the world. If the drawing is 'down to earth' for me, I try to think about funny elements I could add. The drawing is over when I feel confident about it, even if it took a few years for me to figure out when to stop. The tip I would give is don't hesitate to contact people you want to work with, it's a very important part of the professional network you build. I know it's hard and that there is always this small voice saying 'maybe my work isn't good enough', but when you get a positive response or a new collaboration, it helps a lot being more confident about your work.

*Where do you think Design is heading in the next five years and how will you adapt? *

I feel like design is going more and more into animated content. As a 2D illustrator, I can see that not only my network is in need of playful animations, but also these past years on social media we can see a lot more of motion design work. I'd like to learn the fundamentals of animation, I am sure it will become necessary in a lot of different fields, especially advertisement. I personally am much interested in short movies, animated series, and video clips.

What's on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?

I'm having a collective exhibition in Paris @Floréal Belleville in July, then holidays with friends. I currently live in Berlin but I'm moving back to France in September, and I will try to go to Paris for a few days this autumn to tattoo. I hope to have enough time this year to write and illustrate my first children book and I'd love also to do a residency outside of Europe, maybe in 2020.

Website: aminabouajila.com

Instagram: @amina_bouajila

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