Art medium: I primarily paint in digital, watercolor and acrylic mediums.
Were you always interested in following a creative path? Art and the creative process have always been an important part of my life, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to pursue them professionally until late in high school. I grew up around people who had studied academic topics in college and did art as a hobby. I think I kind of just assumed I would be the same way. Finding people to look up to in the field of illustration made me realize that I wanted to be a professional illustrator. That doesn’t detract from the joy that traditional learning brings me, or the fact that I have other academic interests too. I think it’s actually a strength in illustration because research is so integral to the process.
How do you describe your craft? For me, illustration is a visual communication of narratives or ideas.
What are some examples of pieces you’ve done in the past?
I’ve enjoyed completing painting commissions for private entities and illustrations for corporate use. I also won the Wisconsin State Fair’s 2022 poster competition, so it was cool to see my art used promotionally there.
Do you have a favorite design/piece? My favorite piece I’ve made is Entropy. I made it during the pandemic when I was 16. It wasn’t a school assignment, and I really challenged myself in terms of scale and composition. I was dedicated to it for multiple months, and that level of commitment really helped me build my own self-confidence as an artist.
One thing most people wouldn’t guess about your craft or being an artist in general: I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand how large the professional field of illustration is. There’s a wide range of jobs in editorial illustration, different steps of the animation pipeline, sequential art, medical or technical illustration and much much more.
Why do you love what you do? I find the creative process very enriching, and I love how there’s always a new challenge to tackle. I also really enjoy meeting other artists too, and appreciating all the different ways there are to create!
What is your greatest inspiration in terms of what you create? Definitely finding niche things to geek out about. I feel like I do my best work when I’m really into the context of the subject matter. Whether it’s historic Coney Island or old advertising illustration, getting really into research helps me to enjoy the process and strengthens the end results.
Early bird or night owl? It depends! My sleep schedule fluctuates pretty regularly.
Music/podcasts while working or silence? Definitely music, podcasts or audiobooks through the library. If it’s a podcast it’s going to be Ologies every time. I’ll listen to almost any genre of music but my frequent rotation is a proprietary blend of jazz, big band, classical, indie rock and early 2000s emo. For audiobooks, I’m a huge sci-fi nerd, and I love a good space opera.
What makes you happiest: I love being able to get out for a walk in nature—especially when it’s warm out and there’s greenery. Extra credit if I see any ducks, they’re my favorite animals.
Find Mikayla on Instagram @mikaylaillustrates and at www.mikaylaillustrates.com
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