The Pikaland Gift Guide for All Seasons: part 6

giftguide Howdy folks! For part 6 of the gift guide, I’m taking a bit of break from books (although you can see it’s not a 100%) to show you what other fun stuff that’s perfect as gifts for all seasons. This list is a little off-beat, quirky and it’s made up of things I know a creative would love. While I know that Christmas may be the biggest gift season ever, but a surprise gift anytime of the year makes the heart grow fonder (this is definitely from my own experience!) Enjoy! [separator][/separator]

Dita Series Pocket Notebooks by Mossery

mossery From their description:

These special edition Pocket Notebooks was illustrated by Avinindita Nura from Bandung Indonesia, sold in a set of 3: School Kids, Daily Life and Dance Floor.

Available here. [separator][/separator]

The Best People Love Cats & Dogs print by Dick Vincent

dick Need I say more? Printed on 300gsm evolution stock, available here. [separator][/separator]

The Fantastic Fox backpack by littleoddforest

lof This backpack is fabulous for guys and girls, and was inspired by the Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. It’s made to order though, but perfect for the foxy someone in your life. Available here. [separator][/separator]

Make your own stag/reindeer full mask by Wintercroft

wintercroft The instant PDF download for this mask is great for last minute gifts – although assembly on your own will take approximately 3-4 hours. Time to get out your rulers, cardboard and scissors for a gift that’s truly handmade. More animal masks available too from Wintercroft, and this set is available here. [separator][/separator]

To-do notepad by boygirlparty

boygirlparty Writing things down never gets old – and my books are usually filled with to-do lists. If you like yours neat and organised, get this fun notepad by Susie Ghahremani to keep your list in check. Available here. [separator][/separator]

Living Things Series by Little Otsu combo pack

littleotsu I’ve been crushing on these art zines made by Little Otsu, and they have a combo pack available! Great for satisfying your illustration munchies and to get your juices flowing as each book has different artists each explore one idea based around the theme of living things. Get yours here. [separator][/separator]

Paints short shirt by Masha Reva x SNDCT

sndct I love clothes that are fun and bright. These collections – as a result of Ukranian brand’s SNDCT ongoing collaborations with artists and designers – will surely make you stand out in style. Available here. [separator][/separator]

3D Girls vase by Leah Goren

leah Hand built white stoneware vase with allover 3D girl heads by Leah Goren. Conversation starters? You bet. Available here. [separator][/separator]

Paper Mobile Kit by Faye Moorhouse

faye These funny looking people (and animals) are prints are from original gouache illustrations – seven in all – printed on heavy stock paper, punched and ready to hang. Some assembly is required, but that’s all part of the fun! Available here. [separator][/separator]

Pocket manfriends by Nicola Rowlands

manfriends My husband always mentions to me that he’d like to carry me in his pocket. Not because I’m little or anything, but because I’m entertaining (I think). I bet he’s never heard of Nicola’s pocket manfriends though – they’re really much more pocketable, and I bet they won’t keep asking him for food. Available here. [separator][/separator] We’re almost coming to the end of the 2014 gift guide – so stay tuned for our final instalments! For the entire gift guide, check out this link!

Interview: Ana Albero

Ana Albero


Ana Albero

I adore Ana Albero’s work. Looking at the worlds she creates and the people she depicts, with her unmistakably brilliant illustration style, is always time well spent in my view. Ana is a Berlin-based freelance illustrator with a dizzying client list. She is also one third of the Edition Biografiktion self-publishing collective. Despite not being a big fan of giving interviews, Ana was kind enough to find the time to talk to Pikaland about her work and her processes here. Thank you Ana!

Edition Biografiktion

Hi Ana, how are you? What are you up to today?

Hi! I am fine thanks! Today I am finally answering a lot of emails after my late summer vacation, cooking my secret salmon recipe, baking a blueberry cake and meeting my Spanish girlfriends in the evening so I think I am not drawing today.

Could you tell Pikaland readers a little bit about yourself and the art that you make?

I’m an illustrator, originally from Alicante, a seaside city in Spain. I studied in Paris and Berlin where I specialized in Illustration.
Since my graduation at the Berlin University of the Arts in 2008, I work globally as a freelance illustrator based In Berlin. I also spend my time binding books, self-publishing comics and walking around in Berlin staring at dogs.

Are you working on any projects or art pieces at the moment that you could tell us about?

I am working on some commissioned editorial illustrations and putting together some top secret book projects.

Ana Albero

How long have you been making art, is it something you’ve always been interested in?

Since I can remember, I always enjoyed drawing but I never felt like studying Fine Arts. I wanted to study something creative yet practical, so I ended up studying Communication Sciences and not being very happy about it.
Luckily I got a grant to study abroad. At the Berlin University of the Arts I discovered almost by accident the Illustration class. I always loved illustration but never thought of it as a job. I felt that to study illustration was what I really was looking for so quit my studies in Spain and applied for the Berlin University of the Arts. That opportunity really changed my life.

How did you first get started really pursuing your art career?

I started being more focused about my drawing after graduating. Leaving my much-loved educational “bubble” I realized I had to become more serious and committed about illustration if I wanted to earn my living drawing. So I started working hard on my portfolio to create something visually interesting and cohesive to show.

Ana Albero

Together with the illustrators Till Hafenbrak and Paul Paetzel you founded “Edition Biografiktion” in 2008. Could you tell us a little about Edition Biografiktion, how you came to work together, and the projects that you have created?

Besides my commercial and personal work I am a member of the comic collective Edition Biografiktion which I founded with Till Hafenbrak and Paul Paetzel. Back then we were all still students and attended illustration class together. We became good friends and naturally we decided to come together because we all shared the wish to put out our work. The first zines (Biografiktion) we published were comic stories about celebrities, adding fictional elements. We decided to start a second series called Human News whose theme varies in every issue and which is more focused on Illustration. To produce our artwork we use the printing techniques which are easily at our disposal: silkscreen, linocut and reprography.

Ana Albero

Is it important to you to work within such an art community?

Of course! There are many advantages in working in a group. As we lack financial resources we can’t pay others to do the printing for us. All the processes of the production are also very time consuming. As a group we can work together and share the workload. Even if we do most of the production process by ourselves there are still costs for materials like paper or inks also booth costs on comic festivals can be shared. Another advantage is that working in a group gives each of us bigger recognition and exposure.
We try to motivate each other in our work, also helping each other and offering constructive criticism. The best of it is of course spending lots of time with good friends.

How do you balance your time between working on projects with Edition Biografiktion, your solo work, and ‘life’?

Unfortunately, time management is not one of my strengths. I spend most of my time drawing right now. I prefer to work on two projects at a time to be able to switch between projects and have a little “break” that way. I tend to be more productive under time pressure which leads me sometimes to overwork myself. Nevertheless, I try to keep the pens down on the weekend, it is important to disconnect from work and enjoy some free time.

Ana Albero

Do you have any top tips for overcoming procrastination? (I’m a huge sufferer of procrastination and I’m left with endless still-to-do lists as a result).

Oh, sorry no tips… I also suffer from chronic procrastination!

What’s your work space/studio like? Do you tend to surround yourself with things/images/artefacts to keep you company or inspire/ motivate you?

I tried to work in a couple of shared studios but I ended up working mostly at my studio at home. Maybe it is because I prefer a more cozy atmosphere to work till late in the evening. I live together with my boyfriend who is also an illustrator but you never could tell that seeing our apartment. We own tons of stuff, gorgeous prints and frames to hang but for some reason our apartment is sadly under-decorated. Actually that is one of our perpetual New Year’s resolutions.

Can you disclose a bit about the creative process behind your art making? Also, what techniques of illustration do you most prefer to use; what are your tools and materials of choice, and how did you come to work with them?

I start doing some rough sketches to figure the composition out and then I keep working on that drawing using transparent paper layers until the illustration is ready. When I work on a designed topic I do a research first.
I work mostly with graphite because that allows me to create a lot of different textures. Of course, I also use a computer mostly for digital coloring purposes.
At university I was able to try a lot of mediums and techniques, but at the moment I mostly work with pencil and paper for my commissioned work. I also work on screen-prints sometimes and would love to do some etching again but those mediums are very time consuming so I rather would use them for personal projects.

Ana Albero

Which people, projects, or artists have made the biggest impact on your personal life or shaped your artistic vision?

Other decades inspire me a lot, whether in the past or the future… I like to research how people and things used to look and love to imagine how everything could be someday in a weird future time. I enjoy looking at all sorts of illustrations and vintage fashion magazines. As a teenager I even used to think I was born in the wrong time period. I also find inspiration in common people and everyday life. My colleagues Paul and Till also influence my work a lot.

I find it interesting how and where people gain access to their own confidence, and self-belief. Particularly in terms of how they are able to produce and create with a sense of assurance, belief and certainty, or taking the leap to make art their central focus.
What is your personal relationship with confidence?
How did you personally learn to access your creative and artistic talents, and gain the confidence to make, sell, and exhibit your art, as well as working freelance for various publications? Is confidence over your work something that comes easily to you?

I am quite an introverted person, that means I don’t really enjoy talking about my work, I feel uncomfortable at presentations and I avoid giving interviews. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel confident about my illustration work. In fact, I think I have a strong vision of what I like and dislike, what I want to do and don’t. I am very critical and demanding of myself and I enjoy being professional at my work.

Ana Albero

To get a feel for your geographical location/’scene’, are there any Berlin artists, events, galleries, projects, magazines (etc) that particularly excite you right now? Where are your favourite places to create or be in Berlin?

My favorite place to create in Berlin is my studio at home. I need a calm atmosphere to get things done so you will never see me doodling in a coffee shop, I’d actually be drinking something there. For exhibitions I’d rather visit an old school museum like the Dahlem Ethnological Museum than the latest super hyped exhibition opening in a gallery.

You have lived and worked in a few European countries over the years. How do your different surroundings/environments, and your attention to the details of them, affect your art and creativity?

I enjoy traveling as much as staying at home. When I get to go somewhere I prefer to explore my new neighborhood in order to run around visiting all the possible tourist spots. I really enjoy the illusion of living an everyday life in a complete new environment. I don’t keep travel sketchbooks, that’s not for me at all, I’d rather take some pictures instead. I would probably live every year in a different country if I could. I’ve lived in Berlin for over 10 years now. It is a great city to live in because it is huge but not stressful at all. I would say to live here is important for my work because in Berlin I can stay focused on it.

Ana Albero

What are your top tips for others who wish to be creative but feel stuck, don’t know where to start, or feel like they aren’t ‘good enough’ to do so?

Frustration is normal feeling in a creative job like this. Also feeling uninspired or unmotivated… the best tip I can give is try not feeling anxious about that… take some days off, be lazy for a while but then start working hard again. For me it is particularly hard for instance to start working again after a long trip or a vacation away from my studio. The only solution is starting over again and not thinking too much about it.

What is it that makes you burst with energy, keeps you inspired enough to keep going, and makes you want to continue being an artist?

What makes me really want to continue being an illustrator (although it is not the easiest profession) is imagining myself working in a regular 9 to 5 job and being too tired to do something creative when I get home.

Ana Albero

There’s many pieces of your work that are presented as comics strips, with panels of drawings. How interested are you in comics work?

Although I am drawing more often comics right now I still prefer to work in single illustrations because I enjoy taking more time for the composition and the drawing itself. A good illustration always tells a story anyway.

What would your dream art project be? And what do you hope to work on next?

Working with people I admire and creating what I feel like.

Thanks Ana!

Interview: Cendrine Rovini

Cendrine Rovini

Cendrine Rovini is a French artist making beautiful drawings, paintings, and mixed media work incorporating themes of delicacy and lightness, and they’re all kinds of beautiful! Melanie Maddison spoke with her about what she’s currently up to and how she came to make the work she does.

Website | Blog | Flickr | Etsy

Hi Cendrine, how are you? Could you tell Pikaland readers a little about yourself and what you are working on at the moment?
Hello Pikaland people, I am fine, thank you! I am a french artist and I live in the mountains of the centre of France, in a little city named Aurillac. I use to work on paper mostly, sometimes wood and fabric, I draw and make mixed medias. I am currently working on collaborations with Irish artist Jane O’ Sullivan and swedish artist Nicole Natri, and also focusing on the next big work I want to do: a mixed media on a beautiful big format tintoretto (a very fine panel of blond wood).

Cendrine Rovini

Cendrine Rovini

How did you first get started in art, is it something that you’ve always been interested in and excelled at? How long have you been creating art, embracing your creativity, and working towards developing your current style and output?

When I was a child, as every child, I spent many time drawing but I also used to secretly include this activity during the class at school, I was often immersed into my inner world, my imagination, and I used to be in love with art museums and books of images. As an adult I first taught Spanish language in a college, and I hated being a teacher. So I realized around the 30 years old that I only wanted to create, and I decided to make everything possible for it. It took almost five years for the identity of my work to appear; many years of self-education, of careful gaze on the things and people surrounding me and the memory of the hours spent in company of my father working (he is a sculptor). Finally a few years ago, the actual flow of images, or what someone could name my “current style” appeared by itself in a few weeks. I realized it when I saw that at a certain point, some formal cohesion was present drawing after drawing.

Why do you create? What is it about being creative that makes it something important for you to do?

I create because I have no other choice, and I am very bad at any other occupation. Creating is part of my personality and if you remove it from me, I may become a ghost. When I see an image first before doing it on paper, it may be a torture for me to be unable to transfer it on the visible area.

Cendrine Rovini

You have said that you like ‘to create drawings slowly disappearing from the spectator’s eyes’. Where did your interest in such soft, delicate, light imagery come from, and how has your art developed over the years to incorporate it?

I think this special taste came from my love for vintage photographs. You know, these fleeting sepia portraits, this little pigmentation on the old paper, the strange sweet light which seems to erase the shapes. And, as the things I see with my inner eyes come from the realm of the indistinct or hardly seen, when I want to render them on the paper, I try to make them light, so in many of my drawings there are pale colors or elements becoming transparent between the rest of the image.

You work a lot with graphite and coloured pencils, and also with mixed media on paper or fabric. What is it about these mediums that you enjoy? How do you create your images?

I love working on paper because its texture often inspires me by itself, this white and free space makes me able to almost literally “see” the contours of the image to be done. I first begin with graphite pencil, the oval of the face or the main shape of my figure and when this is placed on my paper, I merely distinguish the rest of the lines appearing, then the colors and details slowly emerge before my eyes and my hand only have to follow it.

Cendrine Rovini

Cendrine Rovini

Your work very often depicts women, and female life, bodies, and souls. What is it about femininity that draws you to capture its many guises within your work?

Women are the part of human beings I better know, as I am myself a woman! I know how it is in my body, the effect it has on my soul, the mystery and wonder about it. I love the way some women I meet in my imagination can be far from the modern stereotypes, I too love when they are undoubtedly feminine, with all the female traits, and also when they are rougher or threatening and I try to depict them as I saw them in my mind. For me there is not only one image of the woman, I love the multiplicity of the possible beauties or strangeness, and I enjoy trying to explore this. For me women are the multiple, the diverse, the possibility for the human world to be better connected to the Earth and its life, to respect it better and to feel the sacred materiality of the planet in a daily life. Our soul within our body carries so much complexity, that I could be inspired by it all my life, I think.

You work spontaneously without sketching or taking notes. Are the ideas already formed in your head before you sit down to draw?

Most of the time yes, the drawing is already in my mind; this is not an idea, this is an image existing in its totality. I often see them when I am near to fall into sleep, or the morning, when I am at the frontier between sleep and waking. I don’t think the images are born in my head, this place is just the place for me to collect them awaiting the moment to make them visible. I imagine they come from far, they were perhaps already in the head of someone else before I was able to catch them and draw?

Cendrine Rovini

Cendrine Rovini

You have recently been exhibiting work in the UK at the Duckett & Jeffrey’s gallery. I understand that this work is collaborative, with each piece being passed between you in France and another artist in the UK. Could you tell us a little about this, and the !process of working jointly on art pieces with another artist? Did you enjoy the process, and the outcomes?

This show ended last 31st of March at the Duckett & Jeffreys Gallery in Malton (UK), it was named The Spirit of Two and it presented a body of collaborative pieces with the English artist Chris Czainski. We worked about the inner initiatic path, when we are in front of a personal ordeal and the way we can know ourselves better and find new resources during such moments. We began the common works and sent them to each other so we can complete them; it was big format mixed medias on fabric, with dark felt, threads, beads, and graphite… I enjoyed working on this project because, even if our styles are different, we were like in the same undercurrent of imagination, everything was easy and natural between Chris’ work and mine.

What sort of aesthetic things do you like; for example where do you work from, and what images/artefacts keep you company in your studio / place(s) of work?

I love being surrounded by beautiful things, art or objects of the usual life, and I pay attention to the quality of the light, by day or by night, it may inspire me or place me in a peculiar mood for beginning my work. During the day, I enjoy my studio because my table of work is just in front of the window and I can see the garden, the river flowing and the streets of the city, at night I love the intimacy of the lonely light focusing on my paper and contrasting with the darkness of the rest of the room, I feel like I am in a bubble of warmth, isolated in there from the rest of the world with my nascent image. I need the near presence of the letters and gifts of my friends, artists, and of my art books.

Cendrine Rovini

How do you manage your time in order to devote as much time as you’d like to your art?

When my children are not at home with me, I can spend my time creating without any interruption, but even like that I need to go away from my work table several times a day, I take a break, I make myself some tea, I spend some time on the computer, I read or cook for the next meal. In a certain way it is part of my work too, all the little daily acts are important for me, they don’t separate me from the inner world. I feel lucky to have the possibility to only work like that.

What’s your relationship to confidence, with regards to making and sharing your art?

It is something related with one of the preview questions about why I make art. I just make it with my whole heart and sincerity so when I show and share it I hope that people can feel it and if the drawings touch them with heart and simplicity, I feel like the happiest artist in the world.

Which contemporary artists and illustrators do you currently like?

I have a devotion for Kiki Smith and Anne Siems, I also admire Fay Ku, Sofia Arnold, my friend Jane O’ Sullivan, I love the work by Jana Brike, Balint Zsako, Aron Wiesenfeld, Fuco Ueda, Valérie Belmokhtar, Susan Jamison…

What is the art scene like in your native France? Are there any French artists, events, galleries, or projects that particularly excite you right now?

A while ago the French art scene was mostly focused on conceptual work, and it was difficult to find interesting figurative art too… In the past couple of years, I see emerging a new movement with artists like Julien Salaud, Anaïs Albar, Valérie Belmokhtar, Bertrand Secret, the musician and visual artist Kinrisu, and the presence of young art galleries like Arsenic Gallery or Da-End Gallery in Paris (and I am happy to have had my first solo show in this beautiful and inspiring place). I love to see how imagination is at the centre of this creative scenery, how intuition and sensitivity within an intriguing sense of animality are respected and celebrated.

Cendrine Rovini

What is your favourite thing about making art?

I find it absolutely delightful when I feel the intensity of my desire for an image, for drawing it on the medium, when for example some mornings I am in a hurry for getting up in order to begin soon my work.


Melanie Maddison is a zine writer and former postgraduate Women’s Studies student from Leeds, UK. Her main zine, Colouring Outside The Lines has been going since 2004 and interviews contemporary female artists. She’s our resident chief interview lady, and you can read all the interviews she has conducted for Pikaland here!

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