Joana Avillez’s illustrations are simple, unpolished, and somewhat loose – all completely intentional. Based in New York, she enjoys drawing and writing together as one – a method she has learned from her father, a celebrated editorial illustrator himself.
“As a kid I was always drawing and writing and creating fake newspapers with fashion reports and stories about weird ladies and animals for my parents,” she recalled in an interview with Shinola.
“Eventually I went to art school, not because I had in mind to be an artist, but because liberal arts school sounded so bleak and meandering. I went to the Rhode Island School of Design which was a sensational decision — I loved every bit of my time in Providence. I considered going into illustration but ended up as a painting major. Later, I moved back to New York (where I grew up) and knew that my work had nothing to do with galleries or dealers, but everything to do with books and print and stories.”
With clients that include Penguin, Random House, Harper Collins, The Museum of Modern Art, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, Avillez has clearly realized her dream of working with print and stories.
Describing her artistic process she says she uses a ballpoint pen because it is easy and gives drawing the feeling of writing. “If I am doing a more ‘polished’ piece I may lay down some lines in pencil so I have some sense of placement, then pen, then watercolor,” she adds. “My methods are very simple and accessible, which lets me draw anywhere and make things when I’m traveling. The actual drawing itself is never digital but always given a Photoshop bath before it’s finished.”
The best part of being an illustrator, according to her? “I get to do what I have truly always loved. I can write and draw and wear the same hat. I get to actively look at the world like a very wise five-year-old.”
Enter her child-like worlds.