Please meet Jori Van der Linde. I first saw Jori's work a couple years ago, as part of some sort of promotional material for Emily Carr University of Art and Design. I pinned her whimsical and wonderful illustration to my inspiration board I have above my work desk. Fast forward to just recently, when I came across her work once more and was completely enamored with it. I mean, her love for drawing plants and birds is obviously something I can relate to! So, I was excited when Jori welcomed me into her sunny studio and shared her story and illustrations.
Q + A with JORI VAN DER LINDE
Studio Visit: April 19th, 2016
Introduce yourself. How would you describe yourself as a maker/creative? How do you spend your days?
Hello! I'm Jori and I`m a freelance illustrator living and working in Vancouver. It was only recently that I was able to give up my day job as a landscaper to start full-time freelance illustrating. I now spend my days in my home studio and work away on anything from book covers and children's books to advertising, editorial, pattern design, and more. I deal with imaginative and whimsical imagery inspired by nostalgic memories and details gathered from my everyday travels.
Briefly describe your journey. Were there some pivotal things that helped propel you to where you are now? (Perhaps there were some struggles that you see, in hindsight, helped you get to where you are now?)
I've always been a creative person, but I suppose my art journey really started when I applied and got accepted at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. To be honest, I didn’t get much out of the first two years, but in my third year I took a digital illustration class, and I learned how to combine my traditional drawings with digital media. I love having the ability to fix and edit all my mistakes in Photoshop. From there, I sort of had a jumping off point to tackle different genres of illustration like children's books, editorial, advertising and pattern design. In my fourth year, I took a class trip to New York, and I was completely inspired. Our group, led by teachers Durwin Talon and Guin Thompson (also amazing artists) set up meetings with illustrators, art directors, and publishers. I got amazing critiques and advice from so many creatives, and I left New York feeling motivated. That trip basically inspired my whole grad project the following year, which I submitted and got accepted to many competitions and magazines including the society of Illustrators New York, the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles, Creative Quarterly, and 3x3 Magazine.
One of the biggest struggles I faced, and am still facing, is the business side of illustration. There was one class taught on it in school, and it was so vague. It felt like someone teaching you the rules to a board game that you've never played , and then years later you have to actually play it without any practice. It's been difficult, but by slowly through getting jobs and doing my own research I'm learning.
Some of the best advice I got about accepting jobs was from illustrator Zelda Devons who I met on the New York trip. She told us that if you get a client asking you to draw horses, or use a program you have no idea how to use, just take the job and figure it out. Draw a hundred horses, and now you know how to draw horses really well! You wouldn't believe how many times I've accepted jobs in illustrator, and have no idea how to use that program. I'm a Photoshop girl all the way, but I`d like to have the option to be able to use illustrator if needed, and it`s definitely benefited me.
Your work has a wonderful whimsical quality about it, and a distinctive style. Was this something you were developing while in school? and how have you found the transition from 'student' to 'illustrator'?
Thank you! I suppose the whimsical quality of my work has always been developing, but it`s constantly changing and informed by daily experiences and interactions. When creating, I often try to emulate different emotions or moments I've experienced. I`m quite adventurous and quirky at heart, and I feel that often comes through in my illustrations.
Transitioning from student to full time illustrator, for me, has been generally quite a smooth process. Because I got the hang of what I enjoyed illustrating in my final year of school, I felt no rush to drop everything and struggle without any footing. When I first graduated I worked as a landscaper and actually moonlighted as an illustrator during the evenings. That's what I did while working on my first children's book, Teatime by Tiffany Stone.
I don`t consider myself to be a great self-promoter in terms of sending out mailers and email promotions, but I have worked on having a good website, entering competitions, handing out business cards here and there, some social media (which I`m working at being better at). I also never thought about getting an agent, but when Kate Moore contacted me to be a part of her team, SullivanMoore, I had to try... and it`s been very rewarding! Eventually I had enough illustration work that I could quit my day job! No more moonlighting haha!
Do you have any rituals or a routine that helps ground you & primes your creative mind?
For me, nothing says `get your butt moving` like owning a dog. I have a high-energy beautiful German Shorthaired Pointer named Lilo. I never used to be a morning person but that has since changed. Basically she gets my day started. I get up around 7:30, make breakfast (which is now my favorite meal of the day), and we head out for a morning walk/hike. I have found that I can get quite anxious and distracted, but if I complete some exercise, I'm more likely to sit down and get work done. I also indulge in my guilty pleasure of perusing Pinterest before I start work. Sometimes I get crazy inspired, other times I get lost in pages of delicious recipes and fashion blogs haha.
Fear and uncertainty seem to be an innate part of the creative process. How do you confront your fears, instead of letting them stop you?
I would say one of my biggest obstacles so far has been confidence. I've always struggled with it, and I've never been confident that my illustrations were something I could make a living off of. I have to give a lot of credit to my close friends and family for constantly supporting and telling me that my art is worth it. If they hadn't, I`d probably still be doodling in notebooks somewhere, too shy to show anyone what I`m working on. Also, getting feedback and critique is a great thing! Even as a professional, I still sometimes get things looked at before I send them off.
What kinds of activities/interests do you have outside of your actual art practice, that you feel informs or inspires your work? (or maybe just contributes to a richer life)
I love to hike with my dog! Getting out into the world and experiencing nature is a huge influence on my work, which is why I loved being a gardener. I`m also a bit of a foodie, and love traveling, and I`ll easily drop most of my money on those things (I obviously need to work on long-term financial investment). I also love the simple mundane tasks of shopping for groceries, watering my plants, or cleaning a room in my house. Sometimes it`s the little things in life that help me feel accomplished.
I’m a sucker for good quotes. Do you have a favorite you’d like to share?
Oh man, I know too many; I can't honestly pick. I don`t think you know of my superpower. I have the best memory for the most useless and pointless information, like movie quotes. Sadly, I can not remember anything I learned in school about history, math, or science, but if you wanted to know who said that line? in that movie? with that guy? I know it.
Any exciting projects that you are working on?
I just finished working on a super cute board book about baby birds! A couple book covers are also in the works!