For this month’s Creative Spotlight, we had to opportunity to interview Mara, the creative behind Mara Illustrations, an Italian full-time digital illustrator.
Hi, Mara! It’s my absolutely pleasure to have you as our May Creative Spotlight here in ATOW. I love the message of the illustrations you create! Do you mind introducing yourself to the ATOW community?
My name is Mara, and I come from Italy. I am a full-time digital illustrator. I create illustrations and objects that I sell on my website. I am a tenacious person who does not give up and always tries to overcome obstacle in my life.
Where do you find inspiration to create?
I take inspiration from my life, especially from what surrounds me, and also from my mood.
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired or unmotivated to create?
When I am not feeling inspired, I try to go out and take a long walk. I also try to be in contact with nature as much as possible in order to relax and find the concentration I need to create.
Do you remember your first creation? Do you mind telling us a short story about it?
In 2019, my husband bought an iPad for himself. I asked him to download an application called Procreate because I was curious to see how it worked. I had just seen it in a video on YouTube. I only needed a pen to draw so I got the pen and, from that day, I practically drew every day and night with my husband’s iPad. My husband decided to give me his iPad because i using it always! He also really liked seeing me draw!
Do you have a mantra that gets you in the mood to create? Do you mind sharing it with us?
Yes, my mantra is “Never give up!” There are so many difficulties in life, and the most important thing is not to give up and always continue!
Which creative do you look up to and why?
Yes! It is Catherine Kay of Katnippstudios! She is a very good artist. I saw her video on YouTube in 2019! I fell in love with her style. She is a really sweet girl and I wish her the best!
What is your creative process?
Ideas usually come to me at night. The next day, I make a draft then I slowly start creating and modifying them. Sometimes, I also change my creations many times.
Do you have a morning routine? What is it?
My morning routine is to get up and be gratefully for what I have. Then, I drink coffee with my husband. I have breakfast. I get dressed and take my little dog to the park and I relax in the middle of nature. After the walk, I go home and listen music and start to work!
What are five things we can definitely find on your desk?
Above my desk, there are rose quartz and amethyst crystals given by my parents when I was little because I always liked stones. You can also find the first mug that I have created with my illustration, my iPad with my pen, and my headphones to listen music.
What advice would you give to creatives that have just started their own page on Instagram?
Don’t listen to the negative messages that people send but appreciate the positive ones that come to you. You must always appreciate the positive things in life. Don’t give up and believe in what you do!
Do you have a shop? When and how did you decide to open it?
Yes, I have an online shop where I sell posters, mugs and much more. I opened my online shop in the summer of 2020 because many people asked me where they can buy my art and so I decided to open my website!
Were there challenges in starting your own creative business? What were they and how did you overcome them?
It was difficult to start because it is not easy to open an online shop and insert all the products you sell. However, once you start to understand most of the things, you can improve your website and I also still have to improve a lot.
What advice would you give to creatives that have not started their own shop yet but are looking to do so soon?
The advice I would like to give is to think about the kind of website you want to open but, above all, to calculate the costs of the website and also the type of shipment you want to do.
Do you mind sharing one of the biggest disappointments you’ve faced as a creative? How did you overcome it?
I had many great disappointments… One was when my old Instagram profile (@mara.illustrations) was closed for no reason. It had 31k followers. I tried so many times to contact the Instagram support center but no one has ever been able to help me. Another big disappointment I had was when I found out that people had stolen my art and sold it without my permission. It was horrible. However, I appreciate the support of the people who have always been there and who have continued to support me.
Do you mind sharing one of the moments you were most proud of yourself? What was it?
The moment I was most proud of myself was when I signed a very important contract for some illustrations! It was a moment of real joy for me!
Lastly, what does feminism mean to you?
Being a feminist today means that we care about people and that we choose to prove it. Feminism is no longer just about women but about us all. It concerns the LGBTQ + community, religious minorities, ethnic minorities. It concerns all those who are discriminated against, isolated, excluded, because things change together.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share some insights into your creative journey and business! We wish you all the best with Mara Illustrations!
Stay tuned for Mara’s IG Takeover this May!