Oona is an 18-year-old illustrator and designer from Chicagoland. Her artwork speaks for itself, showcasing different styles, mediums and subjects; she’s a true talent. Her incorporation of subdued, pastel colors takes the characters to a new, dreamy level. Grow a Pear and read on to learn more about our Artist of the Week.
CA: How long have you been interested in art?
OH: I don’t think I’ve ever not been interested in art. I’m lucky to have always been exposed to it in a variety of ways. My parents are both artists and there was always an assortment of art supplies and even musical instruments in the house. My mother would always be doodling and sketching and my dad would draw these elaborate cards for my siblings and I of our favorite cartoons. As a child I was, (and still am) greatly influenced by animated films. After every movie I saw I would rush to draw the characters with whichever supplies I could find.
CA: How do you decide what subject you want to portray in your art work?
OH: I love painting portraits. People are the most interesting thing to me. Behind every face is a great mind and a personality, which is my goal to capture somehow. One thing that will attract me to paint a certain person is their influence on me. I tend to draw and paint a variety of artists or other personalities that I can relate to in some way. If I’m wrapped up in watching a TV show or movie, there is no doubt I will paint or draw the characters. Fashion and alternative design is also a huge inspiration to my art, I like to use odd colors and shapes to bring out the subject’s personality through my eyes.
CA: What is the typical process like for you to create a piece?
OH: Depending on the medium , it can take up to a month or more to finish a piece, however some may take only 4 hours. It depends on my interest in the subject matter and the medium used. Often, I first find a reference image, or multiple, then I work from it directly to find correct proportions and composition. Then I move onto color and lately I like to refrain from looking at my reference image except for tonality and values. This makes the painting less photo-realistic in color, which in turn makes it more whimsical and interesting, which is the look I like to go for. I will almost always listen to music while painting, and if I’m painting a specific singer or band, I will listen to their music specifically. This helps to embed the emotions I experience from their music into my art.
I recently worked on an album cover, for Friday Pilots Club, where listening to the music to get a feel for the look of the cover helped immensely with the composition of the finished product. I don’t think I’ve ever started a piece with a set message in mind, when I discover it, I know I’m done. Creating art has really helped me become more introspective.
CA: Of all of the art you have created so far, which piece is your favorite and why?
OH: Strangely, I’m most proud of a silly little pear illustration I drew at the end of last year. It’s helped me to realize that if something has brought you down, you have to create something out of it. Use that time to make your dreams a reality and to make yourself happy. From that little drawing, I was able to write a book ( still in the process of design ), and design my own headwear collection. It’s helped me become more comfortable with myself and what I choose to do with my life.
(Check out her website to get yourself some “Grow a Pear” wear: www.oonawho.com)
CA: Who are your greatest artistic inspirations?
OH: My parents are huge inspirations to me , they’re the reason I feel comfortable in pursuing a career in the arts. I have many artist I look up to that inspire my style like Singer Sargent, Hsiao Ron Cheng and Tim Cantor.
However, a lot of my inspirations aren’t necessarily fine artists. If I see any creator that is successful at what they do, it inspires me to work harder. Because if they can achieve their goals why can’t I?
CA: What is your favorite medium to use and why?
OH: My favorite medium is forever changing. I appreciate each medium for what it is best used for, and what it can best portray. Currently my favorite medium is digital painting, adobe photoshop specifically, as it is so diverse in how it can be used. I’m able to paint, draw, design, and even animate within the same program. Oil painting is up there as well. It’s such a beautiful and timeless medium that can make any painting look elegant.
CA: In your opinion, how has social media changed the way that artists share their work? And the flipside, how do you think social media has changed the way people (viewers) appreciate art?
OH: Social media has made it so anyone has the opportunity to share their art with the world,which is amazing and truly helpful for those who want to pursue art as a career, or simply want to influence others. When you follow most artists on social media you see more than just the finished pieces, you see sketches, failed attempts, funny doodles and techniques as well as insight into the artist’s personality, which just adds to the finished pieces in my opinion. Artists are able to share what they create no matter how popular they are, which helps spread the inspiration.
Social media has opened up so many opportunities for me. I would have never met so many people that appreciate my art or people I admire. However there is a small amount of negativities. A few people expect artists to work for free or for exposure, which is helpful sometimes, but often it is less beneficial to the artist.
Social media hasn’t really changed how people appreciate art, I feel as if it has just publicized it more. People may appreciate artists such as Singer sergeant or van Gogh just as much as they appreciate their favorite illustrator on Instagram. Social media just gives the chance for smaller artists to be appreciated by the masses, and to connect those who share the same dreams.
CA: What are your biggest goals for your artistic future?
OH: I want to continue to work with brilliant creators and have the opportunities to design and illustrate pieces for media that tons of people could be influenced by. But I want to create things that I’m proud of, not just to please others. I’m always ready to grow and I would love to learn more techniques and insight on drawing, painting and designing. I kinda just want to absorb as much knowledge as possible. I would love to grow my business and possibly make it more than just the fine arts. I would like to be able to influence as many people as have influenced me and to hopefully make whoever sees my art happy.
Fun Facts about Oona:
- She has never bought a card in her life, since she hand makes and personalizes them.
- She’s a big fan of British television and humor.
- She prefers playing music by ear rather than sight-reading, whether it be piano, guitar or ukulele. Music is her way to relax.
Be sure to check out Oona on all of her social media sites (because how could you not?):
Article by: Emily Arias