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Q&A with Chrysa Koukoura

Artist from Byron Bay, Australia

I’m an artist living and working near Byron Bay, Australia. I’m half English / half Greek, and have been in Aus for the last 4 and a half years.

I work in fine-line pen on paper creating intricate yet graphic drawings. I come from a Graphic Design background and I think that's kind of apparent in my work. I make my living selling drawings, screen-prints of my work and commissions which vary but usually combine my drawings with elements of graphic design.

Is it difficult to be a freelance illustrator and your own boss at the same time? Actually could you enumerate any advantages of freelancing?

I think it's great freelancing and being your own boss once you get used to it and your own habits (you get to know yourself and how you work. There's no hiding from yourself!

It's important to learn how you work best; ie - find how out what makes you work well and be productive, to you like being in the same place or mixing it up, do you work better at night or day etc etc. Once you sus the basics out and implement them you’ll be the best boss in the world!

Freelancing is great because it gives you your freedom. You have only yourself to answer to, you can take holidays when you want, lunch break when you want and all of that jazz. Freelancing allows you to work on various projects so things don't get boring. You can also make a good income from freelancing, it's just about keeping up that damn consistency!

Is your studio the best place to work in private atmosphere or are there any other places where you can go to develop ideas and make sketches?

When it comes to drawing I very much like to work in my own studio space. This is for various reasons. Practically, it's easier as everything is in one place; also my work can be on quite large pieces of paper and I don’t want someone spilling tea on a drawing i have spent days on. (there is a ’no drinks on the drawing table rule in my studio. That applies to everyone including myself!) I also love to listen to music and  generally be in my own zone/world which i just can't get into with others around. I also can't stand people watching me draw so shutting myself away is kind of bliss! haha

In hope of not sounding like such an unsociable cow, I don’t mind doing the more computer side of things in other locations like cafes, or in the garden or anywhere really just to mix things up so I don't get cabin fever!

What tools do you mostly use? Do you enjoy working with analog materials or with digital tools more?

I mainly work with pens and paper but I do use digital tools for editing drawings (especially for commissions). So i’d say I like to use the two!

In Australia do you work with local brands or prefer international ones more? Could you tell us about your collaborations over the past year?

I don’t mind where the brands i collaborate with are based, as long as they are with the ethos and style that I like or find inspiring.

I usually find that I prefer working with smaller companies as there's usually more creative freedom which makes projects more fun.

I have recently collaborated with a lovely menswear concept store in Sydney called Fine Fellow, creating a series of prints for them called ‘Cosmic Circuits’ and also created some black and gold foil wine labels for a small boutique winery

What are your favorite places in Australia? Do you have a lot of friends and colleagues among designers?

I love the countryside and ocean in Australia. This is why I left Melbourne a couple of years ago and settled in the country by the sea! It’s a beautiful place to be but it does make working for myself that little bit harder as there’s a lot more opportunities in the city. Sometimes if you want something bad enough though you just have to compromise!

I have lots of friends who are designers, artists, illustrators, jewellers, leathersmiths, makers and shakers of all sorts as i’ve met so many people through designers and makers markets, art fairs etc.