Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Etsy shop finds...a chat with Meenal Patel

This months etsy shop interview is with Meenal Patel.
An illustrator, childrens book author, designer and ceramic artist based in San Fransisco.
Making art is Meenal's happy place and it most definitely shows in her playful, modern artwork.
Inspired by nature, everyday life and her Indian-American heritage, Meenal loves to create patterns and draw people in her illustrations. 
Meenal also has a published childrens book 'Neela Goes to San Fransisco' inspired be her niece, available in her etsy shop, along with prints, cards and ceramic pieces.

So let's get to know a bit about the artists behind the shop...

 1. Can you tell us a bit about you and your background?

 Hi there! I’m an illustrator and artist living in San Francisco with my husband and pup. I’ve loved making art in various forms since I was a kid. 
I went to college for graphic design in Minnesota (where I grew up) and then worked as a designer at a design and branding agency for 10 years where I worked on a wide range of projects from brand design to illustration to surface design. 
I went out on my own last year and have been focusing more on my illustration practice along with working on my next children’s book.

2. Tell us about a typical day for you…

 I start my day with breakfast and a cup of homemade chai. 
Play with my puppy, Dosa, for a bit before settling into my home studio. 
I fire up the music or podcast and spend a quick bit of time organizing my day and giving email a once over.
I do my best work in the morning so I try to start with something that needs a solid chunk of time. I’m trying to get in the habit of starting with the thing that scares me most like a brand new project that has a big blank page. 
That way I feel like I’ve accomplished something by lunch and don’t have that looming feeling that comes with pushing the hard stuff to the end of the day. 
I usually have an early lunch at home and then take Dosa for a long walk in the park. Everyday is a little different and filled with some combination of illustrating and designing for clients and my own products, prepping orders, handling nitty gritty business needs, meetings, sketching, writing. 
In the evening I like to cook dinner, go for a walk with my husband and Dosa. 
Recently I’ve been sitting back down for some work on some evenings but the necessity for that ebbs and flows.

3. What's your favourite item listed for sale in your shop? And the most popular item? 
Right now my favorite item is the Hold Hands Together print. The most popular is my children’s book, “Neela Goes to San Francisco.”

4. How would you describe your style/ work? 
My style is playful, modern and graphic. I think my background in design instilled an appreciation of quiet space and bold graphics. By contrast, I love patterns and intricate details. I like to merge these two things together – moments of graphic simplicity layer with textural patterning. I also love playing with color. In terms of subject, I love to draw strong women, kids, little joys in life and most of my pieces have a nature element to it. 
 5. Can you give us an insight into your creative process? 
I almost always start with a small pencil sketch. I have a bunch of sketchbooks in different sizes floating around so there’s always one close by that I can grab to make a quick sketch when I have an idea. Sketching has been an important part of my process for a long time and it never fails me even when I get stuck. It’s the best way for me to get my ideas out of my head quickly. From there I either move to the computer and use Illustrator and Photoshop. I also like to use ink, pencil and have started playing more with gouache and watercolour.

6. Where do you work? Describe your studio/ work area… 
I have a small room tucked in the very back of our home that I use as my studio. It’s a little space but has a bunch of windows, which makes me so happy! I love being able to see the fog roll in and to look out at trees.

7. Who are your design heroes and what inspires you? 
I’ve always loved Mary Blair for her sweet illustrations that are full of so many happy details. 
Another favorite is Sanna Annukka - love her artwork and how she creates worlds in her art that weave in her family’s heritage. I love Julie Morstad’s work too – she’s such an incredibly talented illustrator! Her work blows me away.

I’m also inspired by kids (most especially my nieces!), nature, strong women and my Indian-American heritage. And ice cream. Always ice cream.

8. Tell us ten random facts about yourself… 
1. I love uncoated, toothy paper
2. I love bunnies
3. Frogs make me nervous because they are too easily squishable
4. I can speak Gujarati (my grammar is pretty poor but I can get by)
5. I love reading and love my bookclub
6. I am shy and sometimes have a hard time in large groups
7. I love hiking and camping but hadn’t done either until I was an adult
8. I’m from Minnesota but can’t ice skate
9. I love vintage cookware
10. I love animals and nature – can never get enough of the Planet Earth series!

9. What are you currently passionate about or fascinated by and how is it inspiring your work? 
I have been down-the-rabbit-hole thinking about family, heritage and the ways we keep our family cultural traditions alive. My next children’s book carries themes around those things and it has made me think really deeply about my family and our culture. It has also made me even more curious about other people’s experiences. All of this is inspiring my new children’s book that will be out in 2019!

I also love nature and have always been fascinated by the magic of the natural world. That one is a forever passion that continually inspires my art.

10. What's the most rewarding thing about being a designer/ illustrator? 
When someone smiles, feels joy or connection to something I’ve made. When someone has the opportunity to see a part of themselves represented in my art. Love connecting with people like that. And generally, making art is my happy place and I love the act of doing it.

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A huge thanks to Meenal for taking the time to be part of the etsy interview feature.
If you'd like to see more of her work, be sure to follow Meenal over on instagram.

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