23 January 2020

The Magic of Small Things

Meghann Rader is an illustrator from Vancouver Island on the west coast of Canada. She is known for creating work that is feminine, whimsical and sophisticated and her illustrations have been featured in books and magazines including Anthropologie and The Innovation Press. Her designs are full of beautifully executed detail and enchant the viewer like a classic fairytale.  We wanted to find out how Meghann creates such meticulous designs and how she unearths her own personal magic. 

Meghann's beautifully neat desk

We've just received your new collection here at Lagom HQ, the deigns are so intricate and beautifully painted, how do you go about creating such flawless illustrations?

With two small children at home I have become pretty organised when it comes to creating my artwork. Although I am trying to allow some time just to play and experiment. I usually start with a sketch and figuring out colours on my Ipad before moving to paint. I paint mostly with gouache (Holbein Acryla Gouache and Liquitex acrylic gouache in particular). I love it for it’s buttery texture and matte finish. I do all of my finishing work in Photoshop because it allows me to keep all of the beautiful paint texture intact.

The figures in your illustrations are adorable; you must really enjoy creating their miniature forms.

One of my favourite subjects to paint is people. I studied a lot of anatomy while in art school and I guess at this point I just feel very comfortable drawing figures. They have a wonderful ability to add movement, life and story to an image.

Original image by Meghann Rader

Your images evoke memories of Austen novels and fairytale picture books, are there any historical eras that inspire you at the moment?

I’m particularly inspired by the figures of the art deco and art nouveau movements. The flat iconic shapes broken up by areas of intricate detail are so beautiful to me. A current favourite book is Art Deco: The Golden Age of Graphic Art & Illustration by Michael Robinson and Rosalind Ormiston.

Image from the 1920s fashion magazine - De la Gazelle Bon Genre

Your talent and skill as a designer and painter are evident in all of the work you produce, but where do you find that je ne sais quoi, the magic that brings your images to life?

I find magic in the Intricacies of life. Small details and complex processes. I’ve always found something magical and otherworldly about tiny objects, or when lots of details come together for a perfect fit, like a puzzle or a neatly tied up story.

We love the fact that your illustrations have the feel of historic miniatures, how do you achieve these mini-miracles?

I use a lot of tiny brushes in my work. They create such beautiful texture! Painting small feels a bit like opening a small doorway and taking a peek into another reality. I remember as a child being told by an art teacher that I should try using a bigger brush for a change but it didn’t seem to have much of a effect! I love the sharp point of a mechanical pencil as well. They’re reliable and trustworthy.

From a very young age, Meghann has been drawn to small things. Small toys and books with detailed drawings. This love has inspired her artistic talents, a hands-on creativity that has taken many forms.

I remember once I had saved some birthday money and instead of going to the toy store I made my dad take me to a local hobby shop where I bought a complete model of a space shuttle and then proceeded to assemble the whole thing by myself on the dining room table.

Hand made marquetry pendants by Meghann Rader

I also made pendants about 5 cm wide made up of hundreds of small squares of wood veneer. This was before I had children and had lots of time for that sort of nonsense!

It must be quite intense focusing on such intricate designs, how do you recharge your batteries after a long day at the desk?

I love getting out for a walk when my creative tank is low or if I’m struggling with a piece I’m working on. It energizes me and gets me thinking about things in a fresh way. Port Alberni is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains lakes and endless hiking trails so there is no shortage of inspiration to be found outdoors.

We'd like to thank Meghann for taking time out of her busy day for a little chat.

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