ANDREA OERTER

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

AO: My style is definitely influenced by my digital approach, using flat shapes of color and very few textures and shadows. But with a hint of a cartoon influence, using black line work here and there to add details. I don’t think I fall into a category, but it’s definitely colorful and feminine, with a pinch of cute.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

AO: My drawings are mostly inspired by people, everyday life, and everything related to my home, clothes, and travels. I am also very inspired by my childhood and my family home, and my Mexican roots as well.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

AO: I usually start sketching, see what comes up and then look up reference images, sometimes take pictures of myself in the mirror for reference, look up color palettes, and build from there. I draw everything on my iPad, so if I want to step out of my comfort zone, I take a pen or pencil and start sketching in my sketchbook.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

AO: Since my main subject is characters, I always think of the importance of diversity, and want to be able to represent this as much as possible. Diversity in ethnicity, body shape, sexual orientation, lifestyle… I would be very happy if my audience, made of mostly young women, could find self-acceptance through my art, and find a little more beauty in their lives and in themselves.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

AO: I work half-time as a freelance illustrator, and I have another job on the side. This allows me to have more financial security and to only accept illustration jobs that really fit in with my vision and my style. On the days I work as an illustrator, I work from home at my desk or on the couch. I’ve just moved houses so I am arranging a new studio space in my new home dedicated to my freelance activity. At times it can get a bit intense, and other times I have a smaller workload and can draw for myself or spend more time with friends and family.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

AO: I personally am not good with improvising, so I always have an idea or a vision I work towards. I do need to be in control of what I am doing. But I try to avoid planning things ahead too much and especially try not to seek direction on the internet or from other artists. That way, I also prevent recreating an existing concept. So my answer would be – a subtle mix.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

AO: That it’s a blessing and a curse to have a passion and to make a living out of it. Because as an artist, I love what I do so much and working is a true pleasure. But it has to be treated like work, with limits and schedules and payment. It seems like these are the basics, but when passion gets involved, it has to be contained too. I have too often worked unreasonable hours and neglected other important aspects of my life, simply because I love what I do and have a hard time setting boundaries.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

AO: I wouldn’t judge anyone on their taste and style… But for me, it’s important. I also think it’s something that can be perfected, and as an artist, I’m very sensitive to it. I pay attention to how I dress in the morning and admire the taste of other people, using it as inspiration. I also work part-time in a clothing store, so style and fashion are an important part of my life, yes.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

AO: Being an artist, especially in an ever-evolving world, implies reinventing myself and putting my work into question constantly. So the hardest thing is to keep liking what I create and to remain consistent.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

AO: I love that it’s a part of my identity and I am being recognized for it. I live in my own world full of colors and rainbows, and get recognition for it. I think that’s pretty awesome.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

AO: I’ve always related a lot to Frida Kahlo. The way she uses herself as a subject is because it’s what she knows better. Her accident and traumas are catalyzed by her art. The inspiration she draws is from nature, events, and people. Also the symbolism in her artworks. And of course, our common Mexican background.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

AO: I’ve been drawing since I was a little girl, but then I started my career as a web designer and worked with computers for many years. So when I started drawing again, it was natural to do it on a computer as well. Now I work mostly on my iPad because it’s so convenient. Working digitally allows me to be more efficient, flexible, and available. So for me, technology is a big plus.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

AO: I do. I think I pay more attention to the things that surround me. The shapes, the colors, the feelings. Being an artist basically means observing, and reinterpreting. I think artists are more sensitive to the world around them because everything can be a source of inspiration.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

AO: I love traveling, and I wish I could do it more often! But I’m far from being an adventurer. I definitely love New York City and London. I love how eclectic and vibrant they feel. I like how in each of those, I can be totally anonymous and still feel like I fit in. I’m also very emotionally attached to Mexico City, with all its museums and delicious street foods. But my favorite will probably always remain Brussels, where I currently live.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

AO: I don’t read much, so I love books with a lot of images. One of my favorites is Colorama by Cruschiform (aka Marie-Laure Cruschi). It’s a big color chart, with a monochrome illustration on each page, with a bit of text about the color’s story. I also enjoy Katherine Pancol’s books a lot, I find them very empowering and optimistic. And I love diving into “Un peu de bois et d’acier” by author and illustrator Chabouté. It’s a graphic novel about the daily life of a public bench, with beautiful illustrations in black and white, with no text.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

AO: Illustrating a book was a long-time dream, which I have now achieved, twice. But I have always wanted to sell my art as prints too. So I think my next step would be to open an online shop and propose designs for hangable art. I would also like to contact brands that I love and see if we could make a collaboration possible. But I need to build my own website first and share all the things I’ve worked on in the past months.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

AO: To me, it means using a physical medium to convey an abstract message or emotion. My medium is a visual, a drawn image. But an artist can use food, photography, flowers, textile… That’s my pragmatic answer. But to me, it also means being quirky, misunderstood at times, and insecure often. But passionate always.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to?

AO: This is very ironic because it doesn’t represent my musical taste at all, but it’s “Ojitos Lindos” by Bad Bunny & Bomba Estéreo. The perfect regaettonish song for this summer. I usually listen to singer-songwriters or Indie / Alternative artists. With a pinch of something else from time to time.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

AO: I have to admit that my own artworks are different from what I would hang on my walls. But it’s inspired by my taste, my memories, my childhood, and my insecurities. It’s a constant evolution, yet it remains colorful, happy, optimistic, and relatable. And I’m quite happy with that.

CHECK OUT MORE ON: ANDREA OERTER

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