Illustrator Justina Leisyte: ‘the message is just as important as style’

It takes true skill to turn a few bold and perfectly crafted vector shapes into beautiful illustrations with a clear message. We spoke to Justina to find out more about the complex artistry behind her deceptively clean and simple style of artwork.

Have you always had a passion for drawing?

Drawing and expressing my self visually has always been a part of my life. When I was a kid, I was sleeping surrounded by crayons and paper, and as a teenager, I spent many sleepless nights painting in my parents living room!

When did you realise that you wanted to be an illustrator? What set you on your chosen career path?

It was when we explored various design activities during my graphic design studies at Vilnius Academy of Arts, that I started noticing my interest in illustration work. However, I think the biggest turning point where my career path shifted towards illustration was my first work experience in an illustration studio around six years ago.

We love your use of colour. How do you approach colour palettes in your illustrations?

I carefully consider the kind of feeling or emotion I want to communicate with my illustrations and I select the colours accordingly. I love to play with different colour shades and contrasts. Sometimes I have to work within the client’s brand colours, which can be quite a timesaver since finding the right colours can be quite laborious.

“I carefully consider the kind of feeling or emotion I want to communicate with my illustrations”

How did your style emerge and what advice would you give to budding illustrators trying to develop their own style?

I encourage budding illustrators to experiment, mix different techniques and trust their gut feeling. Developing a style comes with trial and error and a lot of practice. Style to me is an ever-evolving process, which will vary a lot at the start of the career. Over time, you will notice some recurring patterns in your work, which might evolve into your unique voice. Another thing worth pointing out is that the content and the message is just as important as style. The style is a tool to communicate what you want to tell visually.

Tell us more about the illustration you submitted to 100 Days. 100 Commissions. What inspired this piece?

I was inspired to create the illustration ‘Plant Medicine’ during my three months of travelling in Central America. I found the jungles, nature and animals very inspiring and I was tempted to create a personal piece to reflect that.

‘Plant Medicine’ the piece created by Justina for 100 Days 100 Commissions. How important is it for artists to reserve time to work on self-initiated/ passion projects?

If you can take some time to work on your passion projects I highly encourage that! When there are no deadlines and pressure from the clients, you can take your time to explore and be playful. What is more, personal projects are a great way to show what you can do and attract new work possibilities.

“personal projects are a great way to show what you can do and attract new work possibilities”

How did you discover Affinity Designer and what are your thoughts about the app as a tool for your illustration work?


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