Illustrated By Mabel
Hi Mabel, how’s it going? You’re an illustrator, drawing for editorial work as well as your own projects. How would you describe your style? What’s the first piece of your work that you would you show someone who had never seen it?
Hey Alex, thank you so much for having me!
Well, I would describe my illustrations as simple and playful. I started my illustration journey few years ago, doodling on my notebook after work and that remained in my style. There is still a cartoonish feel to it but with time I’ve started to experiment with colours and textures and my style has become more refined and contemporary. Now I’ve completely changed medium. I specialise in freehand digital illustrations and I use a much more muted and soft colour palette with a hint of texture for the shadows.
The piece that represents me the most is “Mab on bicycle”. It’s part of a personal project of mine where I illustrate ordinary life moments of an introverted girl. Being an introverted person myself, I decided to start this series of illustrations to show that beneath the surface there’s actually so much more to know about an introverted person.
Illustration is a relatively new focus for you – you trained as an architect. Do you think the two disciplines have much in common, or were you just trying something new? What led you to choose illustration?
Architecture and illustration share the fact that they are both creative disciplines but what attracted me to illustration, eventually, was the freedom to express my feelings and my thoughts in a way that’s not possible in architecture. When you design a building or a space there’s a whole set of rules you have to follow. I think that this sometimes can drain the creative process a bit. There could be people that won’t agree with this. At uni they teach you that creativity is being able to achieve a great result even when bound by many constraints. However, with time, this felt to me like a cage and I found with illustration a way to channel a new creative side.
You studied in Rome, a city world-famous for its beautiful art and vibrant culture. How did these things feed into your creativity? What was your experience studying in a place surrounded by art history and incredible architecture?
Thinking outside of the box and try to tackle a topic from different perspectives is one of the those Italian traits that influence my creative process.
Studying architecture in Rome was just the best time of my life. One of my most treasured memories of uni, was the architectural drawing and history classes I attended. They both happened to be in spring (which, if you ask me, is the most beautiful season to be in Rome) and I recall whole days spent outside doing live drawing sessions and walks in the archeological park around the Colosseum. I’m originally from the south of Italy, so I had to move to Rome to study, and I recall feeling so incredibly lucky to study such a beautiful subject in such a magical city.
I imagine lockdown had given you plenty of extra time for creativity. Outside of commissions, what’s the last thing you drew, and why?
I recently started a series of illustrations which I’m gonna share publicly soon. This illustration is part of that series. The aim will be to share small actionable daily steps to improve wellbeing and mental health. I think this is not only needed now because of the pandemic, but it will be needed even more so afterwards. Sometimes mental health is felt like a taboo topic or something to be ashamed of, but it doesn’t have to be.
A project you’re currently working on is one promoting mindfulness and mental health awareness. Could you tell me a little about what inspired it, and what you hope to achieve with it?
Since graduating at uni, I felt like I struggled to find my place in the world. The impact of facing the real world after the academic bubble has had quite a toll on me and for a long period of time I felt lost, unfulfilled and frankly, a bit empty. During this time I surfed the web and found incredible stories of people like me that eventually encouraged me to purse a different path, so I discovered my passion for illustration. With this project, in a way, I want to give back. I want people to feel seen and not judged for what they are going through no matter how big or small. I want to help people find the courage to make steps to change their situation and find their new way of life.
What would you like to suggest as your WFTP Hidden Gem?
Emma Reynolds. She is a beautiful soul and a terrific children’s book illustrator and author based in Manchester. She has also recently published her latest book “Rescuing Mrs. Birdley”, so I highly recommend to check out her work!
Thanks a lot for answering my questions Mabel! Let us know how’s we can keep up to date with what you do:
You can find me on instagram and twitter @illustratedbymabel
I also try to keep my website up to date regularly with my latest projects, so you can also find me on illustratedbymabel.com
20/07/20 – Questions by Alex Wilson