We talk to illustrator Oana Befort about her family, work, creative process and what she does for inspiration.
Tell us about yourself. What inspires you?
I am Oana (pronounced “Wanna”), a freelance graphic artist working from my little home studio in the Midwest, United States. I am Romanian and my husband is American, we have two beautiful kiddos that we like to call “Romericans”: Sam (6) and Emma (2). Inspiration can come from many sources such as nature and being outdoors, looking through old books, botanicals, animals, design, fashion, playing and learning alongside my kids or daily life.
You talk about how you always enjoyed drawing as a little girl. How did you get started as a graphic designer & illustrator?
My love for design and visual communication started in high school as I was experimenting with different art mediums and techniques. I was really attracted by the idea of creating something beautiful and practical in the same time.
Since I have always loved drawing/painting as a natural way of expression, I have been able to combine my graphic design experience and illustrations in my work now, it feels like a good balance to my soul and for what I do as a freelancer.
The best part of my job is being able to do what I love and raising my little ones in the same time. It is definitely not easy to balance everything, but it’s worth it.
How did you find your style or painting in watercolour? Has it changed since you started?
I am not sure if I “found” a style or I am just getting deeper into learning my craft, but I would like to have my own voice in the way I see things and have my own interpretation. My work has changed compared with 7 years ago for example, and I am expecting it to continue to change organically as I practice and learn more. Although watercolours are my favourite art media, I am also experimenting with different kinds of printing techniques right now. It is fun to see how a different approach can give my work a different dimension and feel.
Can you briefly explain your creative process, mediums, etc?
It really depends on each project, but most of my works or ideas start with little drawings in my sketchbook. Even when I toy with an idea in my head, putting it on paper either gives me hope that it might become something or it will just remain at a sketch stage.
After a few more drawings and experiments I usually start my final watercolour pieces using watercolour paper, my Schminke watercolours and brushes. I sometimes add gouache or acrylic paints too, depending on the illustration.
How do you come up with new ideas? Do you have a process?
I don’t think there is a magic formula, but I do agree with Picasso when he said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Although ideas can just pop up out of the sudden, I have developed many of my ideas while simply working on other projects, or just drawing in my sketchbook.
What do you do to get inspired?
I usually try to disconnect for a while from work or personal projects and focus on other things or even different creative endeavours, spend time outside, in a museum or reading books.
You have done many collaborations with clients such as Urban Outfitters, Papyrus Greetings and Anthropology. What do you enjoy most about collaborating?
I love working with my clients because many times it challenges me to create and explore things that I haven’t done before. I love seeing my work through a product that you can hold in your hands or use on a daily basis. It gives me the contentment that I can bring something beautiful into this world that many people can enjoy.
What are your favourite pieces from our Spring Summer collection?
I love the Fontana Handmade Smock Dress, it is so pretty and perfect for warmer days. I have a weakness for ruffles tops and dresses for my daughter, the Grinon Girl Shirt is so beautiful. I also love the Darro boy jumper, love the colour and the material looks soft and cozy. Oh, and I love the mini Avarcas. I own a few pairs and they are the most comfortable shoes.