13 Inspiring Interviews with Amazing Female Illustrators and Designers

Portrait of Astrid Lindgrun by Justine Lecouffe for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

For International Women's Day, we've delved into our back catalogue and picked out some our favourite interviews with female artists and designers from the past couple of years.

These interviews give you in-depth insights into their practice as illustrators, graphic, type and UX designers – from Abbey Lossing's approach to creating relatable characters and gifs to Nadine Chahine on type design for the broadest range of screen sizes.

Some of the features see them discussing issues that directly relate to what International Women's Day was created to draw attention to – the need for equality and greater respect for women, and how this applies to our creative industries. In their discussions of their practice, many of the illustrators touch on how they represent women in their work – and it's great to see such a diversity of how women are depicted. No clichéd roles here!

We kick off with an interview with four of the illustrators behind the wonderful Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

Justine Lecouffe, Lizzy Stewart, Malin Rosenqvist and Martina Paukova: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls

A huge hit last Christmas, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a book featuring tales of the lives of inspirational women from Elizabeth I to Malala. Each page-long, fairytale-style story is accompanied a full-page illustration. We spoke to four of the illustrators, who had created illustrations of Pippi Longstocking author Astrid Lindgrun (above), Hillary Clinton, Kate Sheppard, Lozen, Mary Anning, Maya Gabeira and Aung San Suu Kyi (who may be removed from future editions after online criticism of her inclusion for not intervening in violence against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims).

Each of the illustrators take us through how they composed each artwork – and reveal who their own female role models were when they were children.

Read Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls' illustrators on creating portraits of female role models.

PS A second volume of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls has just been released.

Abbey Lossing: Illustrator

Having previously worked in-house at both Buzzfeed and Vice, Abbey explains dealing with tight deadlines, first learning to create humorous and relatable gifs, and gives advice to those looking for a staff illustration role.

Read the full interview here.

Ciara Phelan: Grand Matter founder

Ciara Phelan has been working as an illustrator for seven years and is fed up with the ongoing tension between personal and commercial projects as an artist. Teaming up with producer Dorcas Brown, the pair has now launched Grand Matter – a boutique talent agency.

Grand Matter aims to provide other artists with a service born from goodwill; an agency that will nurture creativity.

Read the full interview here.

Hattie Stewart: Illustrator

Hattie is best known for doodlebombs, where she draws primary colour characters and icongraphy over fashion photography and magazine covers – but she also produces pure illustration pieces, 32 of which have been collected in her first book, Living With Hattie Stewart

Before the launch of the book, Digital Arts editor Neil Bennett caught up with Hattie to discover how she imbues her work with such a sense of fun (with an occasional satirical bite) and how her doodlebombs have evolved from drawing on magazine covers to create artworks to being commissioned to bomb them for real newsstand covers. 

Watch the full interview here.

Isabel Farchy: Creative Mentor Network Founder

Earlier this year we spoke to 24 leading designers and creative directors to find out what they were expecting for 2017 – and many touched on diversity, or rather the lack of, within the creative industries. This sparked an in-depth look into practical ways some leading creative agencies aim to facilitate a team made up of ethnic, socio-economic and gender diversity.

This is how we met Isabel Farchy – ex-teacher and founding director of Creative Mentor Network; a programme which pairs creative professionals from top London agencies with under-represented school students from greater London.  The 16-week programme helps students gain connections, understand what it looks like to have a career in the creative sectors such as graphic design, advertising, music, illustration and fashion – and how to get there.

In this feature found out what impact the Creative Mentor Network has made over it’s two-year life span, and how you can get involved.

Read the full interview here.

Jenni Sparks: Illustrator

For Valentines Day this year, Jenni Sparks created artworks based on the awful messages women have received from men in the run up to the 'day of romance'.

Read the interview here.

Kelly Anna: Print Designer

Kelly Anna is the British designer behind increasingly popular figurative prints that are energetic, bright, bold with confident mark making – and most of them celebrate modern femininity in a way that’s captured the attention of the likes of Cara Delevingne and Beyonce.

Kelly's subjects are often athletic female figures in the midst of remarkably elegant movement, accompanied by inspiring quotes like 'Work it like everyone's watching', or 'Survival of the slickest.'

We spoke to Kelly Anna about her unique style, creating bold slogans and what femininity looks like for the modern woman.

Read the full interview here.

Malika Favre: Artist & Illustrator

Stunning new work by the artist and illustrator, who talks to us about her new exhibition of artworks based around a dancer lit using geometric patterns and shapes.

Desire is an emotion that underpins a lot of illustrator Malika Favre's work, and her latest series of artworks for Outline Editions taps into that directly. Rendered in Malika's iconic style of patterns of simplified shapes and surfaces, Le Crazy is based on a dance show called Désirs (Desires) at Parisien cabaret institution Crazy Horse.

Read the full interview here.

Martina Paukova: Illustrator

In advance of her first exhibition in London, artist Martina Paukova told us about her world of women who are truly relaxed.

Read the full interview here.

Nadieh Brehmer: Infographic designer

Top-prize winner at last year's Information is Beautiful Awards, Nadieh explains why people are drawn to infographics – if they are done really well – and discusses how to create better data visualisations.

Read the full interview here.

Nadine Chahine: Type Designer


Lebanon-born, then-Germany-based designer Nadine Chahine discusses the how type is best made readable across devices from the 27-inch 5K iMac to the smartwatch.

Nadine talked about how to use type differently based on the content – which can range from glance-legible app notifications to long-form stories from newspaper websites or Medium that you want to read on your smartphone.

Watch the full interview here

Nina Stossinger: Type designer

Nina knows about type both as a user and a creator – she started her career as a graphic designer in Germany, before studying type design in Zurich and the Netherlands, founding her own type design studio Typologic and then moving to the US to work for Frere-Jones Type as a senior type designer - where she's contributed to typefaces such as the small-size-focussed Retina

Digital Arts editor Neil Bennett caught up with her to try to discuss the core struggle with typography between being easy to read and having character that adds 'flavour' to text. 

Read her advice here.

Shreya Gupta: Illustrator 

Originating from India herself, Shreya tells us what it was like to draw the life of an India activist and symbol of women’s equality for a Google Doodle.

Read the full interview here.

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