Above the Fold: Belinda Suzette, Illustrator, Artist & Designer
In Above the Fold, we spotlight individual members of Coroflot's vibrant creative community. The idea is to take you behind the scenes and inside the minds of talented Coroflot members who we think are doing exceptional work. Coroflot was created by designers, for designers, and Above the Fold is the place where we can talk to creatives about work that we not only love, but think you'll love too!
By her own admission, Belinda Suzette lives and breathes art and design. Based in Australia, the cross-disciplinary folk artist, illustrator and designer finds herself perpetually inspired by "culture and celebration". That may sound pretty broad, but take a look at her Coroflot portfolio and you will quickly understand exactly what she means. Belinda has a wide-ranging style but frequent elements to be found are mixed media and a bright, eclectic color palette. The main element of all Belinda's work, however, is fun. Her designs and art feel festive and inspired, which is why we had to chat with her!
Was there a specific moment in life where you realized you wanted to pursue a creative path?
No. I have always been very creative and I have always greatly admired creativity, but I never had an 'aha!' moment. I rarely considered career options. I was a bit lost as a kid, and struggled in the confines of secondary school. I was taking life day by day rather than contemplating my future as a functioning citizen of society. Art and craft have always been my path of least resistance. I fell into art school after high school and there I met a group of kindred spirits. We formed an art collective and moved to Melbourne where we threw ourselves into the art community. In 2002 I started traveling abroad and really got a taste for it. It was while living in Montreal that I decided to study illustration and design. So I returned to Australia and the rest is history.
Who are your design heroes?
I was an 80's child growing up on the bright and sunny East Coast of Australia, with Ken Done curtains framing my view and the Dick Bruna alphabet on my walls. I was raised on a good dose of nonsense via artists like Terry Gilliam and the Monty Python lads, illustrations from the likes of Maurice Sendak and Eric Carle. I admire the work of Push Pin Studios, Greedy Hen, and Grady McFerrin.
Can you share some details about your most recent project?
I recently designed signage for a festival in East Gippsland, Australia called Frouteville.
Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I have been working on a collection of short stories. These are stories that have been brewing for an awful long time. I aim to both finish the stories and the illustrations to accompany them. There is a real rush when a character I have written finally becomes visible, and vice versa.
Walk us through some of your process for creating.
I start with sketches, visual concepts, and really rough ideas put to paper, which are then turned into line drawings, which are then treated using whatever technique I apply - whether it is collage or watercolour or pencil or all of the above. I really enjoy mixed media.
Are there any projects (professional or personal) that you are especially proud of?
I really enjoyed the Yum Yum Art project. A few years ago I was invited by the wonderful folks at GAS to participate in a project called Yum Yum Art.
In 2012, a collaboration between Mitsukoshi Isetan and six female artists was launched. For Valentine's Day 2013 they wanted to feature an artist, and they invited me! I was asked to design a range of sweets (and accompanying packaging) for Valentine's Day to be sold through the Isetan department store chain across Japan. Yep - you read right. Edible art! It was a real trip eating my art.
What tools (physical or digital) do you find yourself using repeatedly?
Pencil, ink, watercolour, soft pastel, scissors, glue, Photoshop.
Do you have a ritual for getting in work mode (music you listen to, certain exercise, food you eat) aka a productivity tip?
I must be very organized and have everything in order. My studio (Studio Little Smoke) is on the property where I live in the bush, so I need to have the house in order and chores checked off the list to be able to leave it and not be distracted. That means dishes done, bed made, bills paid, phone calls called. A pot of coffee, a clean workspace, good music or podcast is very helpful (nigh essential) for me to get in the zone.
Outside of your professional life, do you have any other creative outlets or hobbies?
My professional life is not very separate to my home life. I make art, I teach art, I live art, and I produce creative events that support art and design. My garden is art. My home is art. My clothes are art. Food is art. I love to weave, sew, re-purpose, decorate, write, read, and make music.