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Feature Friday: COLLEEN

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

Remember single line contour drawing exercises that you had to do in drawing 1 or your intro class? Weren’t they dreadful? Well this week’s feature is COLLEEN, an illustrator who would definitely disagree with you on that. Her illustration work is usually built around one line and creates these goofy, fun characters that often carry a message but manage to remain lighthearted. I’m a huge illustration fan and it’s always nice to see someone doing something a little different and I think COLLEEN’s distinct style, message, and nifty animations are doing something very exciting. Since discovering COLLEEN’s work on the forum I’ve gotten to sit down and chat with her about her work and I think you all will very much enjoy it! Check it out.

1. So first things first, give us a little background on you as an artist, what got you into art? What made you the artist that you are? (inspirations and what not)

I was about 8 years old when i bought my first camera, which really taught me that the world can be seen in a million different interesting ways and i believe that was what started my art career. And while photography is still one of my loves, I found that illustration is the art form that makes me feel heard. I went to a Tech school for high school where I followed the path of Digital Publishing and Print Design, where I got comfortable with using basic Adobe programs. Adobe Illustrator is my bread and butter, but we will get into that later. A few of my BIG inspirations other than my Mom at #1, Roald Dahl, Suzanne Collins, Eva Hesse (a big one), Monica Hernandez, Arshile Gorky/Joan Miro, Mary Frank, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Takashi Murakami, Bruce Nauman and Mary Cassatt. This list is full of illustrators, painters, writers, sculptors, videographers, and performance artists. Most importantly they are all makers and creators and have had something to do with the creation of me as an artist. Something important to note: the group of friends I met in the Art program (and one comp engineering major named JC) have inspired me to create and to think creatively since the day we all started hanging out. Having a group of creative thinkers and action takers helps my process and mood every day in and outside of class. I love you Jeffrey Mathea Reetz Jack and JC <3 Can't wait to see what we all create next together.

2. You've got this very loose, fun illustrative style, what went into formulating this?

My illustration style has been developing for the past 4 years and while I don't know exactly how i ended up with the style I have now, I know that understanding that realism was not a strength of mine helped steer me in the direction i am going now. All artists see things different ways and think it is the most special when you can let your hand do what it wants to do & let your mind wander a little and see what kind of art happens as a result. Most of my illustrations are not planned out, I just start with a blank paper or a blank Illustrator file and I just improv from there, which can be a form of therapy or cleansing in a way. In a nutshell, my loose style is a result of me not trying to control what happens when i create. I just like to see what happens naturally.

3. The art of the single line contour drawing is largely lost in today's art, but a lot of your illustration is built from one line and I think this is a big contributor to your style, how'd you get into doing this style?

My version of single line art is one of my favorite things to do. I have pages (really so many pages) of one line faces that i draw in rows until the whole page is filled. It is a calming habit and good practice for when i leave art around on the chalkboards and whiteboards on campus. if you see a one line drawing of lips around campus, that is from me. the first photo i attached is an example of one of the one line faces i typically draw the most.

4. Your work done by hand is very interesting but you seem to be able to get a little more adventurous digitally, even going as far as to animate your work. How was it translating your style from hand done to digital? into animation? And what is inspiring these pieces?

My digital and physical styles are very similar but i find the digital medium to be the more forgiving out of the two. By this I mean when I make a mistake, I can always CRTL+Z or use an eraser tool to clean lines up to make it how i want it. I can carefully curate how exactly I want the piece to look, whereas when I draw by hand, if I make a mistake, i have to make it into something else or find a way to cover it up. (because i never use pencil, only marker and pen or india ink) Animating with the digital medium is like i mentioned before, easier to undo mistakes or to try different techniques to see how i want it to end up. The second attachment will be a .GIF from my digital work. I am itching to learn how to animate using an animation software or stop motion technology but for fun I just export my illustrator files as PNGs and create GIFs to animate small projects. Either way, watching my creations come to life makes me really happy and always feels like an accomplishment to give certain projects a new life. There will be plenty more animation coming from me soon-this is something i want to continue.

5. Your work is based heavily on character (so is mine, so I had to ask this haha) how important is the character to your work? Are they one offs or is there repetition of characters or imagery from piece to piece?

The recurring imagery in my work seems to be faces, long oneline flowers sprouting from heads, and lips. Also in my digital work, i handwrite words and sayings to go along with whatever imagery i drew. The third and fourth pictures I attached are an example of this. I would say character IS my work. I try to create subjects that can connect to every person viewing my art regardless of gender, race, age, disability, or values. I want to make art so that every person in the world can feel connected to it and each other. As i spend more time with a drawing they become more unique and characterized but even though it might not look like one of my typical oneline drawings, some certain brushstrokes or elements (three under eyelashes, lips with a line connecting the cheek) make it easy to tell it is my work.

6. PLUGS! Tell everyone where to find you, new projects you're excited about, everything you've got going on!

My name is COLLEEN and you can find me and my art on my social media accounts that i'll list below.

Instagrams: (main account) @im.colleen (art account)

Twitter: @coolbeencolleen

Website: (if anyone wants to make me a new website contact me)


I love collaboration so please contact me via any of those^ and I would love to work with you!!! Photographers, animators, videographers, painters, I am talking to you! Some new projects coming up in the summer: Summer Scholars Program! I will be screen printing with my mentor Aaron Terry working on a project called "Friendly Reminders" involving reminders to us students about our mental and physical health. Keep a lookout for atypical illustration-based PSAs around campus this summer. Please find me online so we can support each other in our artventures.

Remember Folks! Feature Friday is an awesome way to get your work seen and promoted, as well as make you eligible for other prizes! But, you’ve got to post on that forum so we can see your work and promote it! So post, comment and post some more! Let’s see and talk about all of your work!




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