Sonya Abby // Illustrator


An Interview with Sonya Abby
Illustrator & Studying to be a Visual Developer
tumblr || twitter || instagram @sonyaabby

Let’s start off with a super important question - What is your favorite dessert?
I don’t particularly have any, haha. Maybe tiramisu cake.

Now that we got that out of the way we can go on with the actual interview.

Introduce yourself: tell us a little about you.

 I’m a 22 year old Indonesian illustrator and visual development artist currently based in San Francisco.

How did you become interested in illustration? What made you decide to study visual development in college?
I’ve always been interested in art ever since I was young. I initially wanted to be a manga artist but my interest shifted in high school towards cartoon illustration as well as animation. I took Animation as a major in my current university until I realized animating isn’t really my passion.

When I was in my second year, a visual development artist from Disney, Lorelay Bove, came to my school and gave a talk about work in that industry. That’s when I realized that visual development is what I wanted to do.

Fortunately, not long after my school opened their Visual Development department and I transferred to that major.

Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from various artists and films. Artists who uses graphic shapes as well as interesting colors like Mary Blair and Sanjay Patel are among those who inspire me greatly.

What is your creative process like?
Often times, I get inspired out of the blue. By the little things -- the city, people watching, my friends’ art, etc. From this the idea expands. I always look up and hoard a bunch of references depending on what the subject/topic of my illustration’s going to be. For example, if I want to draw a certain scenery, I’d look up a bunch of references that has to do with the scenery that I have in mind. Or, in my current personal project (VINYL) I’m incredibly inspired by fashion photo shoots as well as runway dresses.


From there, I’d start drawing out various thumbnails just to get the idea out. Once I’ve done an amount that I think is enough, I usually send them to my friends to ask for their opinion on the best one -- I find that once I do many of these it becomes hard for me to pick a specific one. I also like looking up various color script references that could fit the piece since I still struggle with figuring out colors for my art.

Once I have my thumbnails and references picked out, I just go straight into the drawing and coloring and keep working until I’m satisfied. I tend to overwork my pieces, so once I’ve worked a certain hours I like to step back and take a breather before coming back to decide whether I need to work on it more or whether it’s done.

This is how most of my process go. Sometimes, though, when I hit an art block I like to just go into the canvas doodling various things using either line or shape and just work from there.     

What tools and mediums do you use for your work?
I use mainly digital tools such as Photoshop CC and Paint Tool SAI.

Do you listen to music/podcasts or watch tv/movies when working? What are some things you listen to or watch?
I listen to mostly Korean Pop, or shows such as Parks and Rec and Red VS Blue. Sometimes I also listen to certain Youtubers play video games. I like watching things I’ve seen before while working so I don’t get distracted by the need to keep up with the plot.

Are you a freelancer as well as a full-time student? If so, how do you balance your time between working and school work?
I freelance now and then but lately I’ve kept my freelancing job on hold since I’m on my last few semesters so things are getting incredibly hectic. To be honest, I don’t really have much free time these days. I’m either working, sleeping, or eating.

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