Manolya Isik is an illustrator based in London, originally from a small town in the Netherlands, born to Turkish parents. She studied photography at the Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam. Manolya's work usually consists of simple shapes, light colours, some lettering, silly characters and food. She regularly give workshops and occasionally helps as tutor at Central Saint Martins.

Tell us a fun fact about you When I turned 11 I was actually disappointed that I didn't get a letter from Hogwarts.

How did you get into illustration? I studied photography - I didn’t know a lot about the art world or creative jobs, but my dad used to love photography so I guess that’s how I got interested in it. While at art school I realised there were things like illustration, graphic design and typography too. So I took every chance that I had to add some of that to my projects. After I graduated, I focused on illustration. It's all about creating images and I just love that way of working.

Who or what inspires you the most? At the moment it's mostly everyday things like plants and food. I love looking at encyclopaedias, botanical charts and historical/fictional maps. Also, Wes Anderson films, Studio Ghibli films and Nintendo games. And of course the work of talented illustrators and animators.

What does a typical day look like for you? Usually I try to wake up around 8am, have breakfast really slow, then make a list of what needs to be done that day and try to finish it. If I manage to keep my evening free of work, I have dinner with friends, watch Arrested Development/Community/The Office or play some Zelda.

What do you do when you have a creative block? It always helps for me to work on a different project, look in my old sketchbooks for ideas or go outside.

Top three clients you've worked with? I loved working with At the Table & Yauatcha. They let me take a look in the kitchen of Yauatcha Soho, I got to taste the freshly made dim sum and finally made GIFs of the dishes I ate - pretty perfect. Another fun project was working on a zine about French Pâtisserie together with pastry chef Shaheen Peerbhai.

What tools (digital or not!) do you use to create your work? My favourite part of a project is brainstorming and sketching, so I always start with a pencil and one of my sketchbooks. Then depending on the project I either work in ink or gouache and edit in Photoshop, or I draw the whole thing in Photoshop using my Wacom.

What's your favourite resource for inspiration? Instagram to discover new people, It’s Nice That to keep up to date with interesting projects and Pinterest to save all the stuff.

Do you have any tips for artists thinking of doing freelance? If you'd like to work in illustration, I'd recommend becoming a member of the AOI - they give really good advice on pricing and contracts.

What would your dream project be? Illustrating a children’s book or working on a fun interactive project like a game.

How can fans keep up-to-date with your work? Instagram


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