When I recently visited the Got Craft Fair in Vancouver, I came across this really fun booth of face masks, colour-in-posters, art prints and more by illustrator Lisa Cinar, the very smiley and ready to laugh owner of Draw Me A Lion. I was smitten by her charming illustrations, so we asked if she would answer some questions for us on her creative process.
Who are you and when and why did you decide to start your business?
My name is Lisa Cinar and I am the sole owner, maker and brain behind Draw Me A Lion. I am slightly obsessed with drawing, illustration and visual storytelling. I also teach classes on ‘Illustration for Picture Books’ at the Emily Carr University of Art & Design‘s Continuing Studies department. I started Draw Me A Lion about a year and a half ago out of my desire to create a fun and smart line of activities and gift items for both kids and adults.
Where is your studio? What is it like?
My studio is currently tiny. It’s visual appearance very much depends on where I am with a certain project. In midst of working on something my studio can be a total mess, which I think is an important part of the creative process for me. Sometimes I like to just grab random tools, materials and objects that are lying around. It makes things more spontaneous and fun rather than too planned out. Having said that, when I am done, I tidy up and everything goes back to it’s proper place to make room for new ideas. Like a nice clean blank canvas ready to be painted.
Your illustrations are so imaginative, fun and colourful. What inspires you to create them?
I’m really happy that you used all of those adjectives to describe my work! Thank you. I do strive for exactly that in my work for Draw Me A Lion. I knew that when I created this line of projects I wanted to only use artwork that I personally had fun making. Fun actually plays a very important role when it comes to creating anything for Draw Me A Lion. Sure, the final product also has to be financially viable for me in some way, but most important to me when I think of a project or when I draw is that it has to be fun for me, and also fun for other people to interact with. I think that when you have fun making something and have freedom to create whatever you want, it just shows through in your work and has the potential to inspire others.
Do you hand draw your illustrations? If so what do you get out of it?
Yes! Using my hands, a brush, ink and some paper is my favorite way of drawing. Every project of mine starts with good old fashioned brush, ink an paper drawing. Then I either add some watercolour or guache to my drawing and scann the image into Photoshop and finish the colouring process there, or do all the colouring digitally. However I have just added two cards to the shop where nothing was added digitally! I spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen for work and I thought it would be nice to introduce a new style to my usual look into my line. One that lets me create without any digital input. I think the styles complement each other well and it re-affirms my belief in the importance for me to continue to have fun and play when it comes to creating my images. Whether that’s playing digitally or the traditional way, with pens, brushes, paper and ink. While I’m a big fan of mixing analog and digital to create images, I think stepping away from the computer periodically can be really rejuvenating to any creative person and lets you reconnect and play in a different way with your working process.
What new products do you have in mind for 2013?
I will have a lot more cards coming out this year as well as even more fun things that you can colour yourself. I’m a big believer in interacting with art and collaboration. I love the idea of being able to collaborate with so many other people on images through projects like the Cat and Dog Colouring Posters, The Colouring Mask Book, or the Colouring Postcards for example. I also make sure that I leave ample room for anyone to add to the images rather than just colour them in. You can draw inside the speech bubbles of the Cat and Dog Posters, or even draw mini dogs and cats in the white spaces. In the Colouring Mask Book, the masks are reversible and while one side is a more traditional colouring concept, the other side is much more open and sparse, inviting you to create your own imaginative character from scratch. Really making it your own.
How would you like your collection to grow? And where else would you like to see it sold?
I am pretty happy with where I am so far. Having said that, I am always on the look out for more shops and always have 10,000 new project ideas swimming around my head. I think this year I would especially like to secure a few more wholesalers for just the greeting card aspect of the line. Also, I have been focusing on Canada so far in my outreach to shops and I think it’s time to venture over to our neighbour the States. So if you’re reading this and you’re a fantastic shop in the USA who is on the lookout for new fun greeting cards… please do say hello!
What is the best thing about what you do? And which is your favourite drawing?
The best thing about doing what I’m doing is that I truly love to work for myself. I get to make my own schedule, decide on my own projects, and be my own boss. I can hang out all day with my dog who is also my studio assistant, and listen to whatever music at whatever volume I want. I can take a break whenever I want, and I can go grocery shopping whenever I feel like it rather than only on my days off. All of these things also have their downside of course and the work/life division of running your own business is hard, but for me the pros definitely outweigh the cons! I just love the freedom of working for myself. But there is something else too! I also love it when I see kids and grown ups send me images of masks that they made together, posters that they coloured in and added to and photos of prints that I created hanging in nurseries and kids rooms. I remember a lot of crafts me and my Mom made when I was little and knowing that I can add to someone’s life in this way is really awesome for me! Sometimes I get kinda chocked up about it almost. Yikes!
As for having a favorite drawing. I think that my favorite drawing is always the one I’m just working on. The one that no one else has seen yet. I think that’s a good thing because it means that I can still be excited about my own work and strive to get better while also allowing myself to make less ‘great’ work sometimes. The fun part, is really the most important aspect to me. It’s not so much if the drawing itself is ‘good’ but if I had fun doing it. If it did, job accomplished!
Thanks so much for answering our questions Lisa! Have fun creating, we know you will.
Gwyn & Tamra