"I’m a Brooklyn based illustrator who currently freelances full-time from my home in the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. I received my BFA in Studio Art and Design in 2011 and have resided in New York City for the last 5 years. My work has been featured on Brit + Co, Brooklyn Magazine, Timeout New York, Design Crush, and Brightest Young Things, among others. My clients include Curbed, Urban Outfitters, Valley Cruise Press, and Country Living.
My work explores the interaction of physical and emotional spaces as well as the ephemeral aspect of each, primarily the notion of home. A person’s care and attention can infuse an existing physical place with an immeasurable but tangible energy. I’m interested in this transformation as well as the evolution of the relationship over time. The idea of “making space,” both by claiming a physical space as your own as well as creating a space for yourself from nothing, are central in my work.
My illustrations feature scenes from my own living space and neighborhood with themes of familiarity, comfort, and repetition. My images depict commonplace scenes and settings with the aim to celebrate the small contentments that constitute daily life as well as the fleeting and changing definition of the places we call home."
1. Let’s maybe start by learning a bit more about you. When and why are you smiling the most? How do you spend a night at home? Is there something in the world (tangible or not) that you hold especially dear?
I’m very much a creature of habit, so simple things bring me a lot of joy. Waking up with the sun shining, a breeze coming in the window, a pot of coffee, and a book in bed is a perfect morning for me. If I’m not working on a deadline, a typical night would be ordering food (I don’t like cooking! I’m just going to finally admit it!) and watching something on TV with my boyfriend and our two cats. The best is when both cats come to sit on the couch with us. I really enjoy being home and in my own space.
I’m rather minimal, so the things I do have around are all very important. I have two kachina dolls that come to mind. My parents got them in New Mexico at some point and I always remember them being present in our home over the years, even as we moved to different houses or places. Now I have them on our dresser and I love seeing them every day. I have a tattoo of one of them on my arm that I got in Santa Fe last year!
2. We discovered your work on Instagram through your Brooklyn Bodega Cats series. I actually jumped up and down with glee when I found it. Can you tell us a bit about what inspired it? Are the illustrated cats based on real ones? If so, are you constantly staking out bodegas for feline friends?
That’s so nice, I can only hope that everyone has that positive of a reaction! I started that project in 2014. All of the cats and stores are based entirely on real places, though some of the bodegas have closed or changed names since I illustrated them. It can be hard to keep up with how fast Brooklyn is growing and changing.
Many of the corner stores in New York City have resident cats who live at the store in exchange for keeping away bugs and vermin. It’s not uncommon to walk into a bodega and see a cat sauntering down the aisles or snoozing on a shelf. But when I first moved to Brooklyn in 2011, I was absolutely amazed to discover this unspoken fact of the city. I wanted a way to showcase and share the cats I met while also tying the project into my illustration work. The response has been very positive which makes it all the more fun. People are very passionate about their neighborhoods and thus, the stores and cats in them. It’s been a fun way to explore and connect with people. I’ve even turned two of the cats into enamel pins with Valley Cruise Press. Check those out here!
I am definitely always on the lookout for new kitties when I’m out and about. But I think it’s an unspoken rule of the universe that I shall never find a bodega cat when I’m actively looking. Whenever I go out with the intention of finding a new cat I usually come up empty. It’s the times when I pop into a store on my way somewhere or to use the ATM that I run into a new kitty. That’s what’s fun about it though - finding a new cat feels like an unexpected, exciting accomplishment!
3. What are your favourite things to illustrate? Is there anything particularly important to your creative process? Have there been any particularly defining moments in your development as an artist? In what ways does your personality come through in your work?
I of course love drawing cats! I also like illustrating buildings, either exterior or interior. It’s quite satisfying to create a sense of space out of nothing. I like that illustrating an interior can draw someone into a room that, while not real, feels as though it can be inhabited and experienced. I take a lot of inspiration from my own apartment and the homes I’ve lived. In this way, I can create something that feels familiar and comfortable but also unknowable - perhaps a place that exists in a parallel universe to our own.
I actually haven’t found anything that I particularly dislike drawing. I used to shy away from drawing people, bodies, hands, etc and I told myself I didn't want to After some assignments that included drawing these things, I found I rather liked it!
Anytime I’ve pushed myself to do something out of my comfort zone (such as the above) I’ve found that it’s a positive step forward and helps me to improve as an artist and creative person. The only way to get good at something is to do it over and over!
4. Your illustrations carry this curious sense of adventure, so I think I want to end the interview fairly open-ended by asking you to tell us about a personal adventure of your choice (of any scale).
I suppose most of my childhood could be considered an adventure! I grew up up in southern Colorado in a place called The San Luis Valley. The valley is about 100 miles across, surrounded on three sides by mountains and opening on the south to New Mexico. It’s a very beautiful area but also quite isolated and rural. I think it made for a very unique childhood in that I lived in the mountains and spent a lot of time outside, exploring on day trips or camping. My dad did a lot of hunting so I sometimes tagged along for that as well.
Many artists live in the valley and some believe there is a vortex in the area that draws people in and has a special energy force. It’s also a hotbed for UFO sightings and activity. This was the location of the infamous Snippy the Horse case in 1967. You can even visit the UFO Watchtower on the eastern edge of the valley, not far from The Great Sand Dunes National Monument. It’s a place like no other. Growing up in such an unusual and beautiful place was a great adventure and one I often miss as an adult living in the city.