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step inside illustrator cass urquhart’s breezy, sun-filled home studio

step inside illustrator cass urquhart’s breezy, sun-filled home studio

You’ve seen so many of her illustrations on the pages of frankie magazine, now it’s time to get to know the face behind the illustrations.

Hey Cass! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. I'm a New Zealand Australian illustrator based in Brisbane. I live in a small Queenslander cottage with my little family of three.

How did you become a professional illustrator? I've always loved drawing! I studied fine art at uni but I wasn't really sure what to do with those skills when I finished, so ended up training as a graphic designer, too. I loved working in design and I was always naturally drawn to projects that involved an illustration component. Eventually, I decided to focus on illustration when I realised that it was the best of both worlds and a perfect happy medium between the freedom of fine art and the practicality of graphic design.

Describe your workspace for us, please. My home studio is in the front sunroom of our house. It has lots of louver windows and gets lovely breezes throughout the day, which is so needed in the Brisbane summer. My illustration materials are set up along one wall and the other side of the room is where I do sewing and craft stuff, although I often end up running out of space and working on the floor in the middle of the room!What’s a regular day like work-wise for you? I like to go for a walk around my leafy neighbourhood in the morning. It's so peaceful – it puts me in the right headspace for the rest of the day. Then I'll usually check emails at the dining table with a coffee and breakfast and plan my workday. I'll work in my studio on client projects until around midday, then break for lunch and a bit of yoga if time allows. If there are intense deadlines I'll go straight back into client work after lunch, but whenever possible I like to save the afternoons for working on personal projects.What’s your illustration process like? I always start with a lot of rough sketches, then choose my favourite to trace over with a crisp outline drawing. At this point I'll often send the line work to clients for feedback. Then it's onto colour and rendering. I like to use traditional materials on paper, such as pencil, marker or gouache and then scan these to work on digitally. Working digitally allows for endless experimentation and I'll often move things around and change colours for hours and hours until the result feels right.

What’s your absolute favourite thing to draw? It's a tie between animals and plants. And my favourite frankie illustration I’ve done so far was for Kate Stanton’s piece on the history of mullets. It was really satisfying drawing all of those illustrious locks!

Your work is filled with beautiful strong colours. How do you go about choosing colours to use? Colour inspiration can come in all different ways. I have a tendency to use a lot of the same colours over and over, so to get fresh ideas I like to go thrift shopping, look at my vintage scarf collection or sometimes I just grab a few paint tubes and pens from around the studio, try out a few swatches on paper and see what colours feel good together.How did you find working on the MSI Summit E16 Flip? The display is so nice – it has all of the resolution and colour accuracy I need to do detailed and precise illustration work. Being able to zoom in and work on illustration details via the touchscreen without the need to switch between tablet and laptop is fantastic. I also really appreciated the high speed. There is nothing worse than seeing beach balls when on a tight illustration deadline.

Any tips for budding illustrators out there? Be brave and put your work out there for the world to see. Getting feedback from an audience is so valuable whether on social media or at a market stall. It allows your work to grow, your confidence to grow and it will also get you work! Most people are really kind, encouraging and want to support artists so don't be afraid to start showing your work, even if you are just starting out and still building up skills.

This lovely little chat was presented by MSI and their new Summit E16 Flip laptop. It is super-fast and has long-lasting battery life, plus the screen can be flipped 360 degrees so you can create from all angles. For more, head to