Deep Dive Interview with Amy Blue – Illustrator and Billy Blue Graduate

06 November 2018

Amy Blue is an illustrator and Bachelor of Communication Design graduate based in Sydney. She has built a successful career off iconic pop culture illustrations.

When did you start illustrating?

I started illustrating when I was a child, my mum is an artist as well so she really inspired me to create and was a really positive influence on my creation and drawing skills. I grew up surrounded by a lot of creative people.

When I first left school I actually studied glassblowing (because I was 18 and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do!) Then I did a Bachelor of Illustration in Melbourne and moved back to Sydney and decided I wanted to use my illustration skills alongside graphic design. At Billy Blue I learnt about typography and data visualization and things that can make my work sell and be aesthetically pleasing to look at.

What is your inspiration behind your illustrations?

As I’ve grown, the things that inspire me now are people, friends, family, loved ones and important stories. What use to inspire me is pop culture and something that really drove my work and I really enjoyed my audience and having a conversation about this but I now think my new inspiration is the people around me and stories of these people. This is a new direction I’m taking with my work - which is a scary and exciting place to be in!

What is your favourite thing about illustration?

I’m not a very good speaker so the way I get my point across is through drawing. Everyone has their story and I can tell mine best through drawing.

What projects are you working on?

A few! The one I’m most proud of is some pins I’m designing for a company called Twenty 10 GLCS – they help LGBT youth and have a centre in Surry Hills and open up places for youth to talk about what they are going through. It’s a really great organisation and we are collaborating on some pronoun pins - she, her, he, him, they, them. It’s a great way for people to subtly demonstrate their preference pronoun choice – whatever they are comfortable with. We are coming to the end of them picking their designs so that’s exciting!

How has the digitisation of illustration changed your work?

I think that the digital era is a massively growing art form for artists, illustrators and every creative really! It really allows you to explore your projects further but at the same time I really try to stick to traditional mediums too. Digital drawing is a fantastic avenue for particular projects – it’s less time consuming and much easier to instantly publish but there is a real art form to still using tangible materials and getting dirty and remembering what it is like to be real.

Tell us about your business?

Within my business I do a lot of things, I do zines, prints, greeting cards, but the most successful thing I do is the pins. I started with the Bill Murray pin and they just started selling so I made more and more and now I have about 35 different lapel designs. I’m looking into doing a range of tea towels and linen wear – always trying to explore new product avenues.

Tell us about your first pin...

I started making pins in 2015 and started with a pin of Bill Murray as Steve Zissou in the Wes Anderson movie - The Life Aquatic. It was actually a project at Billy Blue where we had to do data visualisation of a topic that we thought people would like. I chose Bill Murray and illustrated all the movie rolls he had been in and then started on the Steve character to make into a lapel pin.

Why Billy Blue?

I always loved graphic design but wasn’t as equipped in it as I wanted to be. I wanted to utilize my illustration skills but pair this with design thinking and marketing aspects that are involved.

I learnt a lot more about digital during my time at Billy Blue. I had an advantage as I had a background in traditional drawing and a lot of the other students were mainly based in digital and I saw my illustration background as a point of difference. After enrolling at Billy Blue my work did change a lot.

At Billy Blue they are very realistic about ‘it’s what you put in’. It’s your responsibility to get work - it just doesn’t come to you.

View Amy’s full story here: