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5 Questions with Artist and Illustrator Astrid Blumer

We spoke to the artist, illustrator and designer about the themes in her work, her creative process and more

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By Alyxandra Carolus | February 28, 2023 | Art

Want to support local art this year? Get to know more of the local creatives in and around South Africa with our 5 Questions series. This time, we spoke to illustrator, artist and designer Astrid Blumer about her journey, the importance of nature in her work and more.

Can you share a bit about your background as a designer, artist and illustrator and how you got your start pursuing this profession?

From as far back as I can remember I have always been an artist. I understood from an early age, from the influence of my mother (drama student, artist & musician) and my father (musician), that creativity brings joy. After school I had many creative pursuits and happened to begin with the one I was most passionate about at the time: fashion. After finishing my studies, an opportunity arose to work in a studio that focused on children’s books & illustration - Happy Artwork Studio. I worked here for more than 6 years and this is where I sharpened my imagination, illustration & digital editing skills. Since then, I have been gradually building my repertoire of numerous book illustration projects, branding, pattern design, product design, and a collection of artworks which are sold as fine art prints along with other products in my shop.

You’ve outlined that the themes in your work are often whimsical, focused on nature and the imagination. What led you to these recurring concepts?

My illustrations are often created as reminders to myself. My subconscious is telling me to slow down and be more present, to drink in every moment. A reminder to practice self love, to take deep breaths, spend more time outside and be with the people I love. When I’m in the mountains or inside an indigenous forest a sense of calm and connection washes over me. My mind lets go of all the small insignificant worries and my imagination starts to take over. The natural world is and always will be a huge inspiration to me.

You run your own business, selling prints and paper goods, what are some of the major lessons you’ve learnt from this experience?

Ensure you have a few different streams of income and projects on the go. I would love to pour my everything into just creating artworks and illustrations, but as all other artists know, this career path is not always a straight line. I do thoroughly enjoy design and all the different avenues that it can lead to, but ultimately I’d love to just be able to paint and draw and make enough from that as a living.

Pro tip: Never pre-print one specific artwork or design. Alway print to order. You could love this particular artwork only to find out not many other people do, and end up with stock that doesn't sell.

What are some of the most memorable commissions you’ve done recently?

Painting a giant tropical landscape that was blown up to a wallpaper for a themed room in the new micro-hotel in the CBD, The Flamingo Hotel.

A commission to Illustrate a beautiful poem called ‘Dropping Keys’ by Persian poet Hafiz.

Illustrating my self-commissioned 2023 calendar named ‘Be Here Now’.

I am in the process of painting my next collection in ink called ‘Deep Green Daze’ - A series of artworks exploring the tender connection between giving yourself rest and finding that deep sense of peace (and healing) when you immerse yourself in nature...into the deep green daze.

Illustrating and designing the first of the Aegir Project ‘Artist Series’ limited edition beer can labels.

Finally, who is inspiring you right now and where can people support you?

Lindsay Stripling is an artist that inspires me greatly. She creates other-worldly paintings with gouache and offers many online courses exploring this medium. I hope to make time for one of her workshops this year to develop my gouache skills in more depth. Esme Shapiro’s children’s illustrations are so very wondrous and I love the unique creatures she creates. The weird & wonderful illustrations by artist Herikita Conk always intrigue me, I just love how she tells a story with her strange characters, she often includes a female form, plants and lush foliage in her pieces. I recently discovered Mithika Merchant. The mythological worlds she depicts are so fascinating.

Inspiration is a shape-shifting kind of magic and it’s interesting to watch it evolve.

I have a little online shop where I sell limited edition fine art prints, original artworks, greeting cards & calendars. I’ll be releasing some apparel and fabric pattern designs very soon too. You can also find my work on Insta and FB. I take on personal commissions & branding projects and if you'd like to work with me you can reach me on any of these platforms or via mail at akr.blumer@gmail.