A few months ago, I got a text from Alina, the design extraordinaire responsible for Homage's branding. "If you're looking for people to interview, you need to check out Jeannie Phan." As usual, she was spot on. Jeannie's illustrations were unlike anything I'd seen before. Her use of texture and colour, combined with her ability to tell complex stories by way of simple illustrations had me in awe, and I reached out to her within an hour of discovering her work. She kindly agreed to let my camera and me invade her space for a bit, and as it turns out, she was everything I'd imagined. Adorable, engaging, and full of the kind of insight and wisdom that can almost trick a person into thinking that what she does is easy.
Describe what brought you to what you're doing now.
I've always done creative work. When I was younger, I dabbled with Photoshop and found digital art was what I was interested in. Then, I went to OCAD University where they reinforced the basics and I started doing more drawing and painting. I feel like that helped my digital work. So, getting here? It’s been pretty linear. I went to school, kind of took a year off, did random jobs, and then I ended up quitting my job to illustrate full-time. I get kind of antsy if I do the same thing for too long, so I took a risk. A calculated risk though, because I did do freelancing part-time beforehand so it wasn’t anything shocking. I knew I was going to do it eventually, I just didn’t know how.
How did you develop your style?
People say that the illustration world is so small that we kind of feed off of each other, so I will say that my style is a mix of a bunch of different artists. It’s just the way we naturally function. We kind of piece together things and it becomes your own when you develop it. For me, I really like detailed textures, but I also like simplified things. As a personal philosophy, I've been trying to simplify but also retain the attentiveness of detailed work.