Nikki Radan is a self taught illustrator from the Philippines. Her artworks usually focus on surreal and dreamy looking subjects. She does traditional illustrations using pencils, ballpoint pens, colored pencils, watercolors, makeup, coffee and pretty much whatever there is that she can utilize to make an artwork – mixed media. She dreamed of becoming a children’s book illustrator someday. In this interview, you will find out why she wants to become an illustrator of a children’s book and many more. Be inspired on her artworks so read on and enjoy!
What is illustration for you and who inspires you to becoming an illustrator?
For me illustration is a world full of endless possibilities and creativity. It is amazing how one can tell a story by means of illustrations. It allows me to create something which embodies what I feel, dream and imagine. I find inspiration from my dreams, childhood memories, and feelings towards the things that are happening around me. I also find inspiration from the people I hold dear.
Do you have any style? If so, how did you find it and how would you best describe your illustration style?
I always loved colorful and dreamy things so I try to color my illustrations with playful candy colors such as pink and pastels or dark candy hues depending on what feeling or effect that I want to achieve. Also, I like to put random glows/illumination when I feel it’s too dark or dull looking. My subjects are mostly female children with expressive eyes (because I think emotions are clearly seen in the eyes). Each illustration I make is a product of my dreams, memories imagination or feelings so it’s like a free flow of ideas and concepts. I’ m still trying to find more ways to improve my illustrations though.
Most of your works are in children’s theme and they are very well illustrated. What’s with this theme that catches your attention and interest in creating them?
I want my subjects to have that innocent child like characteristics because during my childhood days I’m really into storytelling and children’s books. I especially love Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. I’m also a big fan of Tim Burton and Studio Ghibli movies. Being a child who grew up with these, I knew what I wanted to do when I grow up. So yeah here I am illustrating things that I love.
In creating illustrations, where does your ideas come from? How do these ideas help you?
Some of my illustration ideas came from my dreams and memories. Sometimes I find ideas from what I feel or what’s happening around me. Through illustrating these ideas, I’m able to somewhat record memories or thoughts into images.
What methods do you use in creating your artworks? Is it digital, traditional or both? How do you put balance to digital and traditional methods in your artworks?
I do both traditional and digital artworks. I paint traditionally using watercolors and acrylics on watercolor paper. For digital illustrations I use various art softwares and a Wacom graphic pen tablet. I make it a routine to practice both medias one at a time so i don’t forget how to use the tools for each of them.
I have noticed that some of your works put an emphasis on the eye part such as your Mourn, Betadine, The Key, etc. Can you tell us the reason why you do that?
For me the eyes are the most expressive part of the face, so I tend to emphasize it by making it larger or shinier. Sometimes I draw them half closed or completely shut depending on what feeling I want them to express.
Can you tell us the process you go through when you illustrated Bloom?
Bloom is an entry for the Bloom Arts Festival held last year here in the Philippines. It is actually a small box type illustration 6″x6″. Since there was no specific theme, I went ahead and just do what I like.
First I thought of an idea from the word “Bloom”. From there I started to make pencil sketches on paper. Then I scanned the sketch so I could work on it on my computer. I use a Wacom graphic pen tablet because it is much easier for my hand to move with full control.
I layout the flat colors of my image, in this point I already have a color scheme in my mind so I just go ahead and block colors on my drawing following the color scheme that I imagined. Then I start building it up by adding more colors and focusing on putting details this time until I finally finish the whole illustration. After that I look at it again and try to correct the colors if it is too pale or too dark.
What is the best and worst part of about being an illustrator? Why?
The best part of being an illustrator is that you get to create something from your own thoughts. You give a part of you in every illustration. Also, you get to tell stories from what you draw, from that you get feedbacks from people, may it be a question, creative criticism etc. It is nice to make something that enables you to connect with people.
I haven’t thought about anything worst for being an illustrator, I do believe that if you love what you do then there is nothing to feel bad about. Even if my hands ache after how many hours of painting, it is such a relief to finally finish the whole illustration. That makes me happy :)
If you could describe your arts in 3 words, what would those words be and why?
That would be colorful dreamy memories. Those words describe what I want to achieve in my illustrations.
More about Nikki Radan
As of today, Nikki Radan is still trying to find and learn more techniques in drawing to improve her illustrations. You can find more of her artworks on her Behance profile.