What makes a character stand out? What fun activities can help you be more creative? What advice should aspiring artists and illustrators follow?
We caught up with ChattyFeet designers Chi Michalski, Laura Díez and Stefano Marra to find out more!
Behind every ChattyFeet product is a talented, fun and creative mind – that’s what makes every single one of our characters so unique! Wanting to share the wisdom of some of the most talented designers from across the world, we asked three of them to share their experiences and advice. If you’re an aspiring creative, this blog post is toe-tally for you.
What’s the most rewarding thing about being an artist and illustrator?
CHI: I guess, besides enjoying the act of making art, the most rewarding thing is to see my work out in the wild. The idea of something I’ve created being loved by someone and living on in their imagination always feels the most rewarding to me.
LAURA: The most gratifying thing for me is to see the response of people and clients to my work, to see their smiles, expressions and comments of happiness with the result – this is priceless. It's also very gratifying to see the finished product, going from seeing my illustrations on a paper or a screen to a final product makes me very happy.
STEFANO: The possibility to create your own ‘space’ and explore a theme according to your own vision. This will give you the opportunity to learn new things and add more ‘sides’ to the topic and express it in the final illustration. You can use references that inspire you and mix them with your own experience. It's a small universe you can play with.
Do you have a fun ritual that helps you be more creative?
CHI: I have many rituals! Daily meditation, journaling, and various movement practices – yoga, dance, walks, etc. I try to draw everyday to keep my creative muscles active. It’s also important to create a play-like mindset for myself, whether it's for client work or personal. It’s sort of tricking your mind into thinking that all is play, not at all work. I have to enjoy the process, once I do it also shows in the outcome.
LAURA: Before starting any project I like to get into and learn a little more about new topics that are related to the project. I think that being informed gives you more possibilities to be creative, since you can create connections between different themes and create something new.
STEFANO: I watch, read, and listen to new things. I think it helps me to find good inspiration and to put myself in the right mood to begin a new piece of work. I recently found inspiration in the book Oceano Mare by Alessandro Baricco, which was useful to make me feel in the mood to be productive. It tells the stories of characters including a painter trying to paint the sea, to capture it. To do it he paints with the sea water – he paints the sea with the sea. I didn’t use this directly but it helped me to find inspiration.
What do you think makes a character stand out?
CHI: In my work facial expressions usually play an important role and I also enjoy experimenting with body shapes and proportions. It’s up to you what your world is, as long as things make sense and are coherent in that reality. Making unexpected connections, visually exploring those ideas and seeing if they work is a fun way of creating characters.
LAURA: I think connecting with people is the most important thing, beyond expression or other elements. When people connect with something or someone, it becomes important to them or part of their lives, they also begin to see themselves a little reflected in that character.
STEFANO: A character is interesting when you can see their soul in a visible way. When I design a portrait I always try to mix their face and eyes with elements of their own art. Some don’t need additional elements, for instance an iconic character like Beethwoven works all by itself, you only need to capture his eyes.
What single piece of advice would you share with aspiring artists and illustrators?
CHI: I would definitely suggest a daily drawing practice with very little judgement. It doesn’t have to be long, maybe just 10-20 minutes or so, but keep it persistent. Once done, enjoy the output and don’t obsess if it’s not the best work you’ve ever created. The goal isn’t to make amazing art, but to open up new pathways in your brain and get your creative juices going. A daily practice will help you see your creative inclinations as well. It will help you figure out your own creative superpower.
LAURA: Be persistent, work every day and improve your skills. Also, never ever believe those inner voices that say you aren’t good enough or that you won’t make it. Show positivity towards your own work and one day you'll be amazed with the great things you have achieved.
STEFANO: Be curious. Usually the best stories are in the details. I found my best inspiration when I tried to go deep in something. I also try to express it in my works – if you pay attention to the details you can find my references and inspirations. Using references in the details will make your work relevant, but to do it you need to learn new things and only curiosity will help you find interesting stories.