by Angelina Perino
“Creation is such a big part of my self-development; it’s so ingrained in who I am that I cannot and will not imagine life without the ability to do so.” —Vanessa
Meet Vanessa Vanderhaven, an illustrator and graphic designer from Sydney, Australia. You may recognize the subjects of a lot of her illustrations, as she loves to reference real life beauties — Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima and Rihanna to name a few. I’m telling you guys, her work is magic. She gave The Artists’ Cove an interview filled with beauty and inspiration, just like her work. Check that out below as well as some photos of her recent pieces.
Be sure to follow Vanessa on IG to see more of her insane talent. She also has an amazing website where you can catch her blogs on her latest work as well as get in touch with her for commission pieces.
A: Where are you from?
V: Sydney, Australia
A: Where/what did you study (art or otherwise)?
V: I didn’t study art, I actually started out in fashion design and photography. I studied Textiles at school then studied an Advanced Diploma of Fashion Design at Tafe NSW. I dabbled in fashion for a year or so then sort of fell into illustration. In between all of that I really enjoyed photography, which has always been sort of the backbone of my entire creative career (my dad taught me camera technicalities and I experimented and learned the rest). I grew up on computers so anything to do with creation and computers was very appealing to me, which probably explains why I’m currently completing a Diploma in Graphic Design. Honestly I learned a lot about design in my own time so I’m really just completing this course to have the qualification under my belt.
A: When did you first get into drawing? At what point did you know it was your calling?
V: There was an illustration class at fashion school, which I did pretty well at from the start, this sort of sparked something within me and so my attention and interest in illustration grew from there. I also grew up being fanatic about being really great about whatever I did, so I practiced excessively and perhaps that determination helped me develop my skills to the degree they are at now.
A: What does it mean to you to be a creator?
V: Creation is simply blissful. Nothing feels better than to create something really beautiful from your own head. Experimentation is part of evolving and exploring who you are as a creative being. I cannot think of anything more satisfying and soul-warming than imaging something and taking it from concept to a design or illustration.
A: What is your creative process like?
V: I’m a very emotional being and so I am often inspired by strong feelings (sadness, happiness, excitement, disappointment). Whatever the feeling, I try to make the most of it. From there follows seeking inspiration online like on Pinterest or imagery I find on Instagram, or sometimes I think of a really cool concept and go from there. Then I make time to sit myself down and begin.
A: A lot of artists have varying opinions when it comes to the the purpose of making art. Is your work something you do for yourself or to share with the world?
V: It used to be a way to prove to the world that I was worthy (a little depressing I know) but drawing really did get me through some tough times and helped me discover who I was as an individual. I don’t care so much for followers or validation anymore, now that I am older and really on the good path down self-development as a woman and an artist, I really do create just for myself… and when I do share to the world it’s mostly to gain clients who want to pay me to create more of the same!
A: Describe, to the best of your ability, what it feels like to make your art. What does it feel like to start with nothing and to then see the finished product? I know this feeling is sometimes hard to describe with words.
V: It’s absolutely what life is about for me. Creation is such a big part of my self-development; it’s so ingrained in who I am that I cannot and will not imagine life without the ability to do so. It feels like love, joy, happiness. It feels like home.
A: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
V: I’m inspired by other artists work, the creativity they posses and subjects they use in their art. I love nature, how it makes me feel. I’m inspired by strong emotions, mostly love and sadness. I’m inspired by music and a good heart felt song. Oh man, so many things inspired me!
A: If you can, describe your journey of becoming the artist you are today. Were there difficult moments? Moments of doubt? Insecurity? Struggle?
V: Hell to the yes. Life was incredibly stressful for me. I had a very difficult time discovering who I was and I had a lot of ups and downs. I strongly agree that without struggle, I would not posses the passion that I have. I would not care enough about anything to bother trying to make myself, or the world, better. My struggle is my biggest inspiration because I made it through and I am grateful everyday that I was able to do so.
A: What would you like most for artists – of any type and background – reading this to know?
V: Whilst I did grow up in a creative environment, my creative career did not come easy. I battled with my identity as an artist, but I never, ever gave up on myself. I gave up on a lot of things, but never on myself. I think that is the most important part and most definitely the reason I am the artist I am today.
A: What are three things you cannot live without?
V: My wonderful boyfriend who is my biggest support, a healthy and able body (which I use to do all the things I love doing), the weekend!
A: If you could live and make your art in any city in the world, which city would you choose?
V: Ahh yes, the dream. This is so hard! I love mountains and open spaces so pretty much any city in New Zealand, or somewhere like the Maldives. Oh, and maybe Tuscany!
A: Is there a quote that inspires you and/or keeps you grounded?
V: ‘What is the worst that could happen?’
A: If you could offer advice to a younger Vanessa, what would you say to her?
V: You are enough and you must believe in yourself because you are capable of great things.
Video & Illustrations by Vanessa Vanderhaven (@vanessavanderhaven)
If you haven’t already, take a peek at Vanessa’s video ‘Busted’ at the top of the feature. This is some skill, you guys.
Big thank you to Vanessa. Keep inspiring.