Meet Ileana, an illustrator/designer from Borneo, Malaysia. Ileana attended the University of South Australia where she graduated with a degree in Applied Finance in 2009. She later made her way to Los Angeles, where in 2016 she graduated with a BFA in illustration from Art Center College of Design.
She makes work influenced by her love of traveling, impactful movies and stories, and the experiences/adventures she's experienced in life so far. Last year, she had her work featured in Creative Quarterly Issue 41, and she also received a Bronze medal from Society of Illustrators West. This year, she's had work featured in the Tapirulan Illustrators Contest, the World Illustration Awards, and the 3×3 International Illustration Show No. 13.
In the interview below you'll have the chance to gain some insight into her work, process, and her love of traveling. Also, make sure to swung by her website for more examples of her work.
What does your studio/workspace consist of? Do you have any objects or collections that are always close by wherever you’re working?
Depending on where I am working, my workspace consists mainly of my computer and Cintiq/tablet. I work off my laptop which makes it easier for me to bring my work everywhere I go. If am working at home, my space is typically surrounded by markers/pens, the books I am currently reading (I read a few at a time), post it notes, a deck (or a few decks) of cards and a journal that has a list of everything I need to get done on a given day.
I see that you have a huge love for traveling, what are some of your favorite places that you’ve ever been and why? How did they resonate with you?
How much time do you have? (laughs) Thank you so much for asking this by the way! I am so happy that this shines through in my work. I do not think that I have ever had a bad experience traveling around any particular place in general. Traveling is such an immensely rewarding experience and every city/country has a flavor and energy that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. People are lovely almost everywhere you go.
A few places that come to my mind…
Hong Kong - The food in Hong Kong is just incredible! The city feels like a giant ball of energy - it's sights, sounds and smells constantly crying for your attention.
Jerusalem - There is nothing quite like it, but I do not think that I can quite describe it either. The intersection of faith, politics, and history shows a lot throughout the city.
London - I absolutely love everything about London, what I love about it the most is visiting all the museums London has to offer. There is simply inspiration everywhere. Also, I try to catch a play every time I visit the city at The Shakespeare Globe, which is always nice!
Scotland - I think Scotland is such a wonderful place to visit. Edinburgh is a lovely city, it's not too big, but it's not small either. Also, visiting the Scottish Highlands was such an amazing experience as the Scottish landscape is ruggedly breathtaking. My fondest memories visiting Scotland revolve around the simple act of sitting in a warm cafe with my friend waiting for the rain to pass, whilst staring out into the sea at Portree. Those simple moments help me to appreciate how lucky I have been to have been able to travel at all and see all the beautiful things this world has to offer.
Australia - I spent my formative university years in Australia, and 4 years is a long time in which to see an entire country. Australia is fantastic in almost every way: the people are wonderful, the food is a great melting pot of cultures, the landscapes range from very dry to tropical. The quality of life in Australia is great. My fondest memories revolve around a road trip my friends and I took to the Outback; it is amazing how small you and your problems can feel in the universe when you are surrounded by nothing else for miles.
Salzburg - I love The Sound of Music with a passion. So besides going on The Sound of Music tour, Salzburg really surprised me because it was more beautiful than I had ever imagined. I remember having had the fortune of glimpsing a new married couple coming out of a church and seeing their small group of their family and friends celebrate by letting balloons float up into the air. Set amidst the backdrop of its picturesque mountains, it was really magical.
The landscapes in your work seem to always have this incredible sense of scale, space, and setting, what’s your favorite / most coveted source(s) of inspiration during the course of creating artwork? How many of your landscapes draw on your personal experiences while traveling?
Oh! Thank you so much again! My main source of inspiration for my personal pieces are almost entirely based on an experience or feeling I have personally encountered during my travels (ratio of 90:10). I am not a good photographer, and it is very hard for me to capture in words how it felt for me to visit a particular city/country. It is almost as though through the creation of these images, I somehow create opportunities for myself to relive these moments and keep the memories of my travels alive.
Can you tell us more about your piece for the Tiny Homes Exhibition? What was the story that inspired it? Why did it stand out to you?
Whilst researching this concept of what it means to call a place a home, I chanced upon stories of scientists surviving for months on end in the harshest climates in pursuit of their work. Inspired by this, I wanted to explore what ships and temporary tents mean as homes to these brave souls, amidst their work.
Were there any significant moments while creating the piece for the show? (things like challenges you overcame, happy accidents, or unexpected surprises, etc.)
Hmmm, whether I realize it or not, I almost always seem to paint exactly what I am feeling at a particular moment in time. Painting this created all these internal questions: When do you start calling a place a home? Is it a place you settle down into, or is it a place you aspire to be at? Is home a place where you have roots?
Do you have any exciting projects you can tell us about?
Whenever I have the time, I am currently working on a personal project to adapt the story of Romeo and Juliet to my hometown of Borneo set in the 1920s. Hopefully, I will have some paintings to show for it in the future!
What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of art making? Do they influence your artistic practice? What is your artistic community like?
I love watching movies and tv shows, but then again who does not? As by now, I am sure you realize that I love to travel! I have also been a big fan of magic (conjuring) since I was a child, and love to watch magicians and magic shows. My sleight of hand has deteriorated (unfortunately) since I have not been practicing much since I went to art school (laughs). Additionally, I read a lot, and the prospect of constantly learning/growing is something that is very fulfilling emotionally.
My artistic community is wonderful and is predominantly made up of the friends I went to Art Center with. Everyone is super talented and very nice (and very kind) and I count my lucky stars every day that I can call them my friends.
What's your favorite project that you've had the chance to be a part of?
In my graduation class, we had an opportunity to create a book collective of all of our work. It stands out as a memorable project as we worked together to highlight our strengths, instead of competing with each other on our differences. It was also a great honor to be in a book along with all of my super talented friends, I assure you they are the superstars of tomorrow (if they are not already!)
Where can people find/follow your work?