This month, we chat to Cambridge-based artist Roxana de Rond, who creates vibrant, intricate illustrations depicting Cambridge and everyday joys.
Q How did you get into illustrating?
A Illustrating began for me when I was a hard up English Literature undergraduate. In a creative endeavour to give my friends something special that didn’t require cash, I hand-painted their birthday cards. The process also made me realise my use of pictures was much more effective than my ability with words. Years later I am still doing cards – they’re no longer handmade but the range has certainly grown.
Q How would you describe your work?
A Much of my work portrays a contented side of life – people often comment on how my pictures make them feel happy and that’s a great compliment. The direction of my work was really influenced by keeping a drawing diary which lasted a year and a half – I drew something I saw or did everyday, recording it in a quick sketch before going to sleep. Many of the sketches were normal events like having coffee with a friend, walking the dog or reading a book. This helped me concentrate on finding something to draw, and in turn I realised that inspiration is everywhere – it’s the everyday things that make up so much of our time that matter to me, and I feel real meaning comes from those times.
‘It’s the everyday things that make up so much of our time that matter to me’
Q What is the process behind creating your art?
A My work starts with flitting ideas, which often come at unexpected times and places. For example, the inspiration for one card came while sitting in a traffic jam, staring at the truck in front. It had “Free Range” written in large letters. This made me wonder what hens would do if they were really free range – playing games and watching TV? After the idea comes a quick sketch to jog my memory.
For finished work I use ink and a dip pen and then watercolour to bring the picture to life. As well as 2D pictures I love making layered images. To create these, I draw and paint the images, and then cut them out, reassemble them and layer them to give a 3D effect.
My 3D pictures include a view through the avenue of trees on Jesus Green, a hectic morning cycling scene on St John’s Street and people eating ice cream on the wall in front of King’s College. As well as cards and pictures I also do a lot of individual commissions for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries etc. I love drawing people when they are happy. A curious thing is that I have found myself smiling while I draw a smile. In fact, it is quite difficult to draw one without smiling myself!
Q Cambridge features a lot in your art, why do you find the city inspiring?
A Firstly, it’s my home – so it’s the place I see all the time and most accessible for inspiration. The combination of beautiful buildings, lots of green and open spaces, and interesting people serves up endless subjects for my work.
Q What are you working on at the moment?
A I am really excited to have started an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin this year. It is a fantastic course with great teachers and fellow students. I am working on several picture book ideas and experimenting with different mediums. Over time some of these may make their way into my other work.
Q Where can people see your work?
A I will be opening my studio in July for three weekends for Open Studios, which I have taken part in for the last five years. Every year, I have the pleasure of meeting new people and chatting with regulars. Primavera on King’s Parade stocks a selection of my cards and prints, and I also do a variety of fairs throughout the year.