It’s been a minute but we’re back with a new feature… and it’s a treat! Meet Peonica, she’s a London-based illustrator with a focus on celebrating women and showcasing the vast diversity of women across different cultures. In this chat, she talks about her experiences studying Illustration at UAL (University of Arts London), how she initially struggled to find her artistic identity, and her hopes for the future. We love the warmth, texture and incredible detail in her work and can’t wait to see what’s next for her. Happy Friday!
Peonica, what’s your creative occupation?
I am a British-Sri Lankan illustrator, based in London. My work is a celebration of women and I like to use lived experiences and raw emotion as inspiration for my pieces. Through my work, I aim to showcase the vast diversity of women within different cultures, but also to amplify marginalised voices through art and through interviews, focusing on themes of femininity, cultural identity, social justice, activism and wellness.
Where have you been?
As a child I was always inclined towards anything creative. At school, I would relish a craft project or creative competition, and my favourite subjects were History and Art! I didn’t know in what specific field, but I always knew that art was something that I wanted to pursue at university, and beyond. I studied a Foundation Course in Art & Design at UAL and from there I discovered my love for illustration. This led me to do a degree in Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts (UAL).
The thing I loved about illustration was its ability to communicate ideas, emotions, stories and more through the universal medium that is art. Still, being on this course was by no means easy for me. I struggled with a sense of purpose and hadn’t found my style yet, so for every project I did, the work would look completely different. It was, in retrospect, more considerate of the brief and what I thought was expected of me, than led by my own personal feelings. This is something I spoke about a lot with a tutor of mine who always advised me not to stress about it and to just create work for myself without any expectations, to find out what I love and what my style is – something that I’d recommend to any artist that is struggling/worrying about finding their artistic identity!
Where are you now?
Artistically, I’m a lot happier with my work. I took my tutor’s advice in third year, and as it was also the first major lockdown when I did my final major project at university, I was able to spend a lot of time creating work for me. As I centered my projects around finding what is important to me, I ended up creating my first series of work ’10 days of self-reflection’. I now confidently know why I create work and feel a real purpose. I realised that my artistic journey – finding my own style and interests – coincided with me growing up and accepting different parts of myself, including my cultural identity and heritage… what really makes me, me!
Where are you going?
I will be working on some really fun projects alongside some really amazing women, which I can’t wait to share later on in the year! I have also been blessed with some incredible opportunities, and although I can’t mention them just yet, I am very excited about them! I hope in the future to be able to use my illustrations for good, fight for change, and to constantly grow both creatively and personally.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
For a week and a half, I’ve been honoured to have 3 pieces of work displayed around London Bridge Station. I’m feeling very grateful and loved today for everyone who has been going out of their way to visit my work – it really does make me smile so much!
Since we chatted, Peonica revealed she’s been selected for Pocc‘s Artist in Residence programme with Clear Channel and Shutterstock. Check out her work, showing on screens and billboards all over the UK this month, and make her smile some more!
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