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Q&A with Marina Muun

Illustrator from London, UK

My name is Marina, I’m an illustrator.

How did you get started in illustration, what is your background?

Looking back now illustration was always an obvious choice. I had an affinity for drawing since I was very young and growing up I always knew I would study art. I was lucky enough to have a great family that supported me in my artistic endeavors throughout the years.

Where did you study? Looking back, would you recommend your path for beginners in design/illustration?

I started out by doing life drawing classes twice a week in this rather rustic attic studio which a grumpy teacher from the local high school ran - he was rather old-fashioned, did not really believe in contemporary illustration much, but I kept going anyway. It had a wood stove which kept the temperature slightly above zero during the winter and we all had our coats on because it was freezing. Eventually I decided to do a foundation course at the Arts University at Bournemouth. Over the course of that year I tried out all sorts of things but always came back to illustration as drawing was really what gave me the most pleasure. When the time was up I already knew what I wanted to do so I continued on to do the Illustration Course at AUB and then the MA course at Camberwell.

I would only recommend going down the illustration route if you are really super dedicated to your drawing and able to stay motivated and passionate about what you do.

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What is a turning point in your professional career?

I had been doing odd commissions here and there while I was still at university but I feel like the turning point for me (if there ever was one) was quite gradual. As I started getting more and more regular work I had a lot less time to work on the concepts than I did while I was at uni, and I always knew it would be like this, but it really changed my attitude and made me more focused on the communication aspect and really getting to the essence of a text or material which is to be illustrated. But my focus shifts all the time, there is always something to improve on.

What is your ideal work environment? Do you prefer to work in your studio all day long or prefer to mix a few activities?

I have had to move around quite a lot in the past few months so I am working from home at the moment and don’t have a proper studio space yet, but it’s something that I’ve been thinking about and I’d like to do once I commit to this place and feel more settled. It’s also a matter of finding the right space and the right people. It’s great to work alongside other creatives and have someone to vent your frustrations to when things are not working out or celebrate when a really awesome project comes along.

I am forever trying to improve my work flow and come up with a better routine to be more productive and I’m still figuring things out. Perhaps a studio will provide the structure I need.

Where are your favorite places in your city or outside?

Some of my favourite places in London are Greenwich park & the Royal Observatory, Hampstead heath, the Conservatory at the Barbican and the Barbican itself I think has a really special atmosphere. I also really like Victoria Park which is close to where I live and where I often escape to when I feel like I need a break from work.

Who are the designers and illustrators you admire most?

It’s important to stay up to date on contemporary illustration as well, but I find myself looking back to illustrators from the past more and more - it helps me stay grounded. There is such a saturation of images constantly coming out that sometimes it’s a bit dizzying to always try to stay on top of it all. I also recently went to Elcaf and saw some really dedicated artists and some great work. I came home with many new prints to decorate my walls with!