Ask an (IGI) Illustrator no 4: Giovana Medeiros -@illosgiovana
Q: Hi Giovana, tell us a little about yourself?
A: I was born in the late 80’s in a city called Criciuma in the south of Brazil. I studied Fashion Design in my hometown and worked designing prints for textiles for a few years. After graduating from college, I moved to Dublin to study English for a year, but ended up extending my stay and studied Illustration at BCFE. After that, I moved back to Brazil, then to Italy for a while, but been settled in Dublin for over a year now.
Q: What area of illustration do you specialise in/enjoy?
A: I work mostly with illustration for children, I do a lot of educational textbooks, picture books, and some editorial work. But I love working on anything that the client sees fit my style!
Q: Why did you become an illustrator?
A: I studied fashion and worked designing prints for textiles for a few years. I worked mostly with women’s fashion, but a lot of my designs that came across as “childlike” for the company I used to work. At first, that really annoyed me and I tried to change at all costs, but slowly I realized maybe I was just in the wrong environment. While still working with fashion, I started creating comics and some illustrations and sharing online, where I found out that could become a career. After that I studied illustration and started adventuring as a freelancer, and here I am, still figuring things out, but certainly having a lot of fun.
Q: How has your upbringing/environment influenced or shaped your illustration?
A: As a kid I spent a lot of time with my sisters watching cartoons, drawing, creating little stories, and surrounding myself with those stories I loved. My mom is an art teacher, so she always encouraged that, and we were always surrounded by paints and brushes. My father is not into arts, but he is very creative and loved building things - his specialty was making wooden trucks for the neighbor’s kids. We would play outside and explore as well but developed a healthy relationship with staying quietly inside and creating - which is a lot of what my work is about now.
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: I observe people a lot. I get easily immersed while doing- on the way to work, at pubs, restaurants, when I am traveling.etc. And I try to document some of it on my sketchbooks. I also love looking at nature and animals, my new room has a great view to the outside and I spend quite some time looking at the bird and trees.
I also try to go to galleries, look at books, and try to broaden my interests besides the art world, like listening to podcasts, watching films, and talking to people outside of the illustration world (they exist!).
Q: What do you like to draw the most?
A: I love drawing super cool girls having a lot of fun, and nature!
Q: How does your creative process work?
A: I always start studying the brief and doing some research. At this stage I start sketching very roughly and freely - sometimes I don’t even understand the drawings myself. From there I usually go to work on thumbnails, and trying to fit in the composition in the dimensions I am asked. After that I start refining the illustration more and more - my drawings are very messy so it might be a few sketches before I get the right one. Then I scan and if I have time I do some color studies before I start finalizing on photoshop.

Q: What do you do to maintain a good work/life balance?
A: I used to work from home and was finding really hard to get a healthy balance. It took me a while to realize that, as I was doing for a few years, and always met my deadlines. But I was always exhausted, sometimes I wouldn’t leave the house for days. I was constantly worried about work, but not necessarily being super productive with my own personal work - I started losing interest in drawing for myself. Since February I started working in a studio, and it is a completely different relationship with work. I stick to 9-6 around working hours, and do my best not to work on weekends. When I get home I can turn off from work completely, and even draw a little bit for fun.
I know is not realistic for a lot of people to have a separate space to work, especially when you are beginning, but I think at least having a defined work schedule is fundamental. Setting up limits, not just for you but for the clients as well - you are not always going to be able to pull off an overnight! So sleeping well, having normal meals, leaving the desk I find very important.
Q: What tools do you use? 
A: I do a lot of sketching on paper, but for my commissioned work I use photoshop.
I play with inks, watercolors and gouache for exploring and fun, and sometimes apply those textures digitally. And I always keep sketchbooks, the cheaper the better, as I really just consider them process and research, and don’t worry about making them look pretty at all.
Q: What was your first ever commissioned illustration?
A: I don’t think this was the first one, but one of the first that definitely stood out when I started doing freelance work. It was for this lawyer in Brazil who secretly wanted to publish a children’s book. So he commissioned me to illustrate it, but for some reason, his wife couldn’t find out he was paying me to do it? He even had a secret email for us to communicate, and instructed me on what to tell his wife if she ever found out. Very dramatic! I sent the work, but still don’t know what became of him, the book or his writing career.

Q: How have you evolved as an illustrator?
A: I certainly have a much easier time facing new projects, managing deadlines and dealing with clients. It used to panic every time I had to reply to a client’s email, and start something new - I would clean the whole house before starting. Now it just became part of the work, day-to-day life. Also, I can draw so much faster - I guess that what happens if you have to draw practically every day.

Q: What are your challenges?
A: There are so many, but I what I’ve been thinking more lately is about getting a consistent body of work, but also not letting my style become repetitive or a sort of a formula. Keep evolving my style and trying new things. Also drawing vehicles, can’t get the hang of it.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: I always knew I wanted to work with something artistic, as I always loved drawing. But there was a short period in which I wanted to be an archaeologist.

Please see more of Giovana's work or contact her here:
Website portfolio:
Giovana Medeiros

Giovana Medeiros

an interview and selection of work from IGI member, Giovana Medeiros


Creative Fields