BONNIE BROWN

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As well as being an illustrator, you’ve also launched a magazine this year - amazing work! Can you introduce yourself and share some insight about Counter Journal?

Kia ora! I’m Bonnie an illustrator from New Zealand. My illustrations focus on female empowerment, fashion, bold colours and anything else that catches my eye. Earlier this year I launched Counter Journal, an independent print publication in Aotearoa. Sick of the ‘paid in exposure’ mentality, I am passionate about providing a platform for other young creatives who are paid in real money (because exposure definitely does not pay the rent) and Counter Journal grew from this ethos. It’s also a lot of fun; focused on sharing the most interesting stories you never knew you wanted to read and centred around beautiful design and illustration.

Where do you see yourself and your art headed in the next few years?

By the time the Praise You exhibition is on I’ll be jumping into Studio Bon and Counter Journal full time. I’m excited to have the time to really progress and grow Studio Bon as a business, expanding my services, product line and clients. This year I’ve begun to think of my art more pragmatically and have been taking it seriously as a business and creative venture.

I have a dream list of companies and brands who I’d love to work with and currently am working towards these mid-term goals. A large proportion of my work centres around projects that are close to my heart, including non-profits, charities and social issues and I would love to continue to grow this aspect of my work.

What are you working on at the moment? Any big plans coming up?

I have a few big projects on the go currently that are top secret but I can’t wait until I can share them! In terms of my personal work I’m excited to continue working on my ‘Tarot’ series—a long-term collection inspired by traditional tarot cards.

Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way? (Personally or professionally)

My biggest challenge starting out was finding a style that is uniquely ‘me’. It’s easy to look up to artists you admire and attempt to emulate their work, but when you find your own niche and style it really resonates with your audience and customers.

What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?

I think like most young girls I struggled with poor self-image growing up but I’ve learnt to be content in my own skin. You don’t have to love every part of yourself, but it’s important to be conscious of how you speak to yourself and learn to accept the parts that make you unique. Body confidence is feeling at home in your body.

Can you please share a little about how you go into creating artwork and how you’d describe your style?

Currently all of my work is created digitally; I approach each piece with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, just diving right in without any concepts or planning. I use an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and the Procreate app, with some additional formatting using the Adobe Suite. My style is fun, bright and bold using simplified shapes and forms with a key focus on women.

What’s your favourite part about your body and why?

My hands! I thought my answer for a while and decided my hands are my favourite because they allow me to create the work I love. I also love my green eyes.

What’s your idea of empowerment?

Being confident enough in yourself, that you can inspire confidence in others.

Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?

Shifting focus from competition to supporting each other. There is room for everyone and diversity should be second nature, never forced or tacked on.

What inspires your style of art? What are the best ways you've found that have refined your practice?

I draw every day, experimenting with a range of styles and finding what works. Much of my inspiration comes from the fashion community as well as what’s happening in the world.

Since Praise You started in 2017 we’ve started to see a shift in the conversation with creative women, being more open about their journey and eliminating competition - Have you noticed this yourself and have you ever dealt with competition?

It can be hard not to feel competitive when you see creatives with a similar style getting great opportunities, and thinking ‘that should be me’. I take the time to remind myself there is room for everyone, and the women getting these opportunities are paving the way for other young female creatives.

How do you deal with the dreaded comparison bug?

I’m really intentional about who I follow on social media. I make sure not to get caught up in the ‘the scroll’ and choose to celebrate other creatives’ work, rather than comparing them.

When it comes to female support – what comes to mind for you? Is it positive or negative?

Overwhelmingly positive. Instagram has played a huge part in connecting with other creatives and I have a great support network through this platform.

Do you have any mantras or words to live by?

Be kind.

What advice what you give your 18-year-old self if you could?

Back yourself.

How do you keep up your creative momentum? Where do you look to for the drive to create?

I find inspiration all around me, and I combine this with a business-minded approach. I know when I need to get something done, that no-one else will do it for me. It’s my responsibility to stay on top of my deadlines and this pressure drives me. I find it inspiring listening to podcasts about successful women, such as Offline, The Podcast.

How has your work and practice developed over time?

I found the style and work I enjoy creating, and the brands I enjoy creating it with.

What or who have been some of your main creative influences?

Kelly Thompson, Petra Eriksson and Jasmine Dowling are big creative and business influences for me. I admire not only their creative output but how they have built this into a sustainable career. I also love the work of Frida Kahlo and Matisse.

Whose work are you currently loving right now and why?

Claire Prouvost. Her work is colourful and fun and uniquely her. Paige Jarman. She’s a Wellington-based potter, I adore the colours and shapes she uses.

As you’ve gotten older – how has your perception of your body and confidence changed?

You only get one body and I want to spend my time in it being happy, healthy and comfortable. 

Website: www.studiobon.co.nz www.counterjournal.co.nz 

Instagram: @studio.bon @counterjournal

Email: hello@studiobon.co.nz

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