Here we are at our second local artist feature with Rhianna Wurman, resident illustrator of Ello Lovey! Funny enough, I met Rhianna at a filming of a well-loved, local online video series called Transplanting. I opted to be an extra for the day, while Rhianna was playing a vendor. After filming, I spoke to her about her work. She makes the most adorable drawings and illustrations of various characters and words floating around in her head. I was so excited when she happily agreed to take part in our series (and so did her hubby, but more on him next month!)
Rhianna and her husband, Mike, live in the cutest basement apartment. Upon arrival I was greeted by their bright yellow door and friendly dog, Radley. Rhianna’s space is actually in an extra bedroom, converted into her home studio. The walls are all occupied, covered with prints, trinkets, books, postcards, and inspirational quotes. Tables line the room topped with a printer or two, works in progress, and materials she needs to make and put together various orders. It’s a 360 degree whirlwind of what I assume goes on in Rhianna’s brain, just materialized. And it was, as she put it, “organized chaos.” Obviously, I felt right at home.
Q: Give us a little background about yourself and what you do.
A: I’m a freelance illustrator and designer here in Asheville with my own print and paper goods company called Ello Lovey. I started Ello Lovey in 2011, three years after receiving my Associate's degree in Visual Communications. My artist husband and I moved to Asheville all the way from my home state of Texas a few years ago to pursue a creative lifestyle surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. I create illustrated prints and greeting cards infused with a positive spirit and a sense of adventure. I work with traditional mediums like pen and ink but I also create a lot of my illustrations digitally.
Q: When and how did you get into illustration? Is it your full-time job?
A: While attending school for fashion design in 2004, I began to question whether or not I was headed down the path I envisioned for myself. One of my professors had a heart to heart with me and suggested that I might find graphic design more enjoyable. I enrolled in graphic design classes the next semester and found my love for illustrating right away. I loved to draw and create from a very young age but never quite new which direction to go with it. After earning a degree in graphic design, I worked as a production artist at a label printing company. With little room for creativity, I was yearning for a way to express my own artistic voice. I started creating personal work on the side and slowly realized that I was creating a brand for myself. That’s when I decided to open up my own Etsy shop and sell my artwork. I slowly transitioned into the freelance artist life. Once my shop started to demand more and more of my time, I knew I was ready to close the door on the corporate world and branch out on my own. I have been designing and illustrating full-time ever since.
Q: Your studio is adorable, just filled to the brim with colorful knick knacks and inspiring words. How does the space you currently work in influence your work?
A: Thanks Shonie! My studio constantly inspires me! It's a small space in our home but it's full of colorful things that make me happy. It feels like my very own stationery store. I keep vintage children's books, design and art books stocked on my shelves to draw inspiration from when it doesn't come so easily. The prints on my walls are reminders for me to stay positive and fearless for those times when I get bogged down or stuck. I have my studio laid out in a way that is convenient to how I work. For some reason I like to be at different levels to do certain things. I feel more at ease drawing at a lower level, so I have a shorter desk for that purpose but I love starting my day drawing at our kitchen table. All other tasks are done at higher tables so I can stand or sit. My packaging table is a mid to late 1800s work table from France and I adore it. I love collecting vintage knick knacks. A lot of pieces are from my mom and grandma and other things I've found at antique shops. Sometimes I think I need to cut back on the amount of knick knacks and maybe simplify, but everything holds a special memory that ultimately lifts my spirits. My studio is always a work in progress, but it works for me and definitely encourages lots of creativity!
Q: What are your thoughts on the relationship between artists, their workplace, and the art they create?
A: An artist's workspace must inspire them to create. Filling your space with things that lift your spirits and put you at ease helps the flow of creativity. Although my studio is in my own home, I also find that it helps to be surrounded with other creatives because you tend to feed off of each other. There's a certain energy that's present when working around other artists that motivates you to work harder and gives some needed encouragement. My husband is also an artist and has his own space in our home. When he's working, it pushes me to work and stay focused. Working at home has its advantages and disadvantages for sure and it's not for everyone. There can be a lot of distractions so you have to stay disciplined. Some might find they are more productive when they have a shared studio space away from home. As long as you can stay focused and inspired to create, you are in the right place.
Q: The pieces you create are so playful, cute, and whimsical. Where do you tend to draw inspiration from and how do you go from that to your finished drawing or print?
A: I draw inspiration from my British heritage through my grandmother, the woodland scenery that surrounds our home, a love for hand-lettering, and anything handmade. Moving to the mountains here in Asheville has been very influential to my recent work. My husband and I love going hiking and camping and often take our sketchbooks along for the ride. I’ve been so inspired by nature and animals because of our adventures. Inspiration also comes from my daily drawing challenges. I started a challenge on Instagram four years ago called Doodle a Day. I create and post the challenge list at the beginning of every month and invite everyone to doodle each day to a different word. It’s a creative exercise for fun but it keeps me experimenting and honing my craft. Most of the time my doodles turn into ideas for prints or cards. I'm currently working on a project called 100 Unlikely Combinations where I pair seemingly unrelated elements. It makes me think outside the box and I'm really having fun with it. I've been drawing these illustrations directly on my iPad with drawing apps like Paper and Procreate and transferring them to my computer where I can digitally edit them in Photoshop or Illustrator and turn them into prints and cards.
Q: What does your art mean to you and how would you like it to affect others?
A: I love to constantly create. It's in the fiber of my being. I make my prints and cards because I want to make people smile. I want to be able to lift someone's spirits with a whimsical illustration or inspirational quote. Most of the quotes I make into prints are rooted from an experience I've learned from or something I need to remind myself of. I want to share those lessons and reminders with everyone because I feel like we all need a little motivation, a little pick me up to get through our days. Making people smile and spreading some cheer is what it's all about. I'm so thankful to be able to pursue these passions as a livelihood.
Q: Where can we find more information about you and your work?
A: The best way to get to know more about me and my work is through Instagram. I share just about everything I'm working on plus snippets of my life behind the scenes. On my website, you will find a portfolio of my past and current work as well as a little bio about myself. You can visit my Etsy shop, to purchase my illustrated prints and cards. Locally, you can find my prints and paper goods at Duncan & York and Whist.
If you are a artist or know of an artist who would like to get involved with our "Artists & Spaces" project, email Shonie at email@example.com to learn more.