Meet artist Aysha Tengiz
Last week we revealed our latest Art Club collection, in the lead up to the launch date we got in touch with some of our favourite artists on Instagram to invite them to feature on our blog with a Q&A so here we are. First up...
Welcome Aysha Tengiz, a London based illustrator and artist. We had a chat about all things from coping in Lockdown, taking the freelance leap and arguably most importantly, our favourite snacks 🍳. If you love bright art that's full of character you're going to love Aysha as much as we do!
Hi Aysha, thanks for taking the time out to answer some questions for us 👋
Can you describe what you do in five words?
I illustrate bright colourful characters.
How did you develop your style as an Illustrator and artist?
The style just sort of grew the more I worked over the years. I love to see it progress and warp as time goes by. Different projects are really helpful for this as they push me into working in new and different ways which ultimately influences my style. For example, all my knit designs had to be a lot more refined and so pushed me to minimalise when I usually go for heaps of detail!
You recently quit your retail job and went fully freelance, any advice for anyone thinking of doing the same?
I worked full time in retail when I first graduated four years ago and managed to cut down my hours the more my freelance work progressed. It meant a lot of long nights and no days off, but it gave me freedom to work on my own illustrations. This allowed me to develop my style and portfolio and to build up to working freelance.
Quitting scared the hell out of me because I was so nervous that my freelance jobs would go quiet. I quit, thinking I would find something more local with less hours and then lockdown prevented me from getting a new job. It turned out to be the kick up the bum I needed! I would advise anyone to take the plunge if they are able to, you can always return to part time work if you need to. Without another job to fall back on also means you are more desperate for the freelance work and so go out of your way to try and get it.
How have you been staying motivated during lockdown?
I LOVE routine! So I’ve made sure I keep a structure to my day throughout lockdown. I still get up as I normally would and force myself to do a 30-minute exercise in the sitting room with all the curtains shut so no one can see me hyperventilating in a puddle of sweat and shame. I’ll have breakfast and a cup of tea and begin my day around 9 or 10.
I’m lucky in that I have a spare room which myself and my housemate/best friend Caitlin McCarthy use as a study. We have a big pink desk which takes up most of the very cramped space and we work side by side. It helps a lot having someone work next to you to keep you going. Around 4PM she will begin to play intense K-Pop which really gets you out of that sleepy afternoon slump.
I’ve also been working on a personal book project so that when commissions get quiet I’ll keep working during the week. This helps to stop me curling up in bed and playing on animal crossing until the cows come home.
Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
I always find this question tricky! I think most of my inspiration just comes from what I’m drawn to at that moment in time. It could be my own experiences or surroundings. Like my book “A Spot of Loneliness” is based in London on my own feelings of loneliness in the city. TV programmes and films are great inspiration. I binge watched Planet Earth during lockdown and doodled the entire time. These drawings developed into a series of prints and a cotton scarf. I also really enjoy drawing my character’s clothes. I have a big Pinterest board full of vintage magazine extracts with the most brilliant fashion inspo.
What do you think the key is to working with lots of colour?
Not to be scared of it! Keep trying new colours, I sometimes get too comfortable and need to force myself to delve into new palettes. Just like your “style” your colours will continue to evolve and change.
Which female artist should we know about and follow on Instagram?
Previously mentioned Caitlin McCarthy! Amazingly talented illustrator and my animation don.
Other incredible talents to name a few: Bridget Meyne, Laura Jayne Hodkin, Sacha Beeley, Tess Smith-Roberts, Liisa Chisholm…There are so many I could go on and on.
Aysha Tengiz, wearing Colour Swatch Earrings
Which out of the three art movements in our Colour Swatch Earrings had the biggest influence on the art you’ve created either in the past or now?
I remember discovering pop art at GCSE. It was really exciting to find a movement that consisted of artists who create very illustrative style pieces of work. Bold and bright colours encased in black lines are something I use heavily in my work and probably emerged from the discovery of pop art all those years ago!
Favourite place to be inspired?
Google maps street view.
🌍👀 What a brilliant answer, if you haven't had a spin on Google maps street view or Google Earth, it's definitely a place to get lost in for hours!
Favourite museum or gallery that has influenced you the most?
The Tate Modern. I struggle to pay proper attention when going to galleries so I love the openness of the Tate. How you can explore and enjoy people watching just as much as looking at the art.
It’s the first gallery I remember visiting when I was about 13 and I remember being blown away by the the Turbine Hall. It had the installation Shibboleth in place, which was a giant crack that began very small at the entrance and ran down the hall getting bigger and bigger. I found it so enjoyable because I could run around and jump over it. I love art that makes you have fun!
Amazing! Our Art Club collection was first designed for Tate way back in 2007.
Any advice for sharing your work on Instagram?
I’ve had tutors in the past tell me not to focus on Instagram but from my experience focusing on Instagram progressed my career more than anything else, we’re in a digi-age and social media is (for me) a portfolio. It’s almost exclusively how people find my work and how I get commissions. Obviously it’s got a big downside in that it causes a lot of anxiety and I sometimes get sucked into the hole of panicking about likes or else making work I think would do well on the gram.
To avoid this, I began pre making posts. These will be snippets of work or pieces I’ve got for sale. I won’t spend long on making it and then I’ll have them saved as drafts. I’ll post one every few days and then try not to focus on the response it gets. This helps me step away from being super precious about each post and feeling blue if it didn’t get as much of a reaction as I thought it would.
QUICK FIRE ROUND...
Favourite snack whilst working: Dippy eggs and soldiers!
Favourite animal to draw: Dogs
Temporary tattoo or real tattoo? Real if someone else drew it, temporary if it’s my own!
And finally, what are your plans for 2021? I’d love to do a residency abroad.
Want to get your hands on a bit of Aysha Tengiz's art? Luckily she's got an online shop here, and you can buy anything from prints to scarfs and embroidered caps! Make sure to follow Aysha on Instagram here to keep up to date, and do check out those recommendations as mentioned earlier!
Stay tuned, as we've got a couple more of our favourite upcoming artists for you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, shop the Art Club collection here.