Look at my Desk – Isabel Roxas

What a buzz it was feasting in New York with Isabel Roxas and of course I wanted her for this growing collection.

Isabel “Pepper” Roxas is an illustrator and graphic designer born and raised in the Philippines. Currently, she creates picture books, designs books, websites and logos in her studio in Brooklyn, NY. A whimsical artist, she has a taste for the slightly odd and uncommon, and for tales that go awry. She illustrated The Case of the Missing Donut written by Alison McGhee (Dial Books for Young Readers, June 2013) and Day at the Market by May Tobias-Papa (Adarna Books, 2008) which won the Philippine Children‘s National Book Award in 2010.

So with wonderful memories of layered cakes and quite acceptable coffee and a whiter than white cake shop here is the delightful Isabel Roxas.

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I work in a spacious studio filled with artwork, mismatched furniture, animal figurines and a cactus named Harold . I share the space with other creative folk—an animator, a painter and a production designer. While summer is still here, I try to start my day at the lovely park near my studio. I find that breakfast, with a newspaper and a sketchbook is a great way to ease into my work day. Most of my work is done on a big wooden desk, that fits my computer, some favourite books and my drawing tablet.

current favorites

current favorites

Lately however, I’ve been drawing on a lovely, old drafting table on loan from my set-designing studiomate. I love how worn it is, and I like to think about all the people who used to work on it before I did and wonder about what they drew on this surface. Right now I’m preparing for a small show of drawings in Tokyo, so there’s a bunch of pieces up on the wall behind the drafting table.

draw draw draw

draw draw draw

On the wall beside my computer desk is my cork board full of my favorite drawings, patterns, and references I want to keep top of mind. One of my favorite pieces is a sticker from the design firm notclosed that reminds me to: PAY ATTENTION. Another edict I should put beside it is STOP DITHERING. I think George Balanchine said that, and boy, do I dither.

idea board

idea board

I TRY to keep my desk clean, but it really fills up fast—I like to think it’s a party, and all my supplies what to jump in. I always have a runaway pencil or two when when I’m working on a drawing.

Wild rumpus desk

Wild rumpus desk

I love sharing a studio with other people—it keeps me disciplined and creative. I love the energy that comes from working alongside and talking to other people making stuff. Otherwise, it’s just me and the various murder-mystery characters whom I listen to on audiobook—that can get pretty dismal…fast.
When illustrating an assignment, I start with a few sketches, each exploring a different idea. Depending on project, I submit all my favorites, or just the single direction I think will work best. The sketch I have here is one I submitted for Babybug magazine’s FOOD issue.

babybug cover

babybug cover

Once I have the idea down, I make a final drawing, and depending on how much time I have, I paint some pieces in watercolor that get scanned in, and then retouch on photoshop. If I have loads of time, I like to make a final piece with no digital elements. My Babybug cover for their food issue is also a hybrid, though more predominantly done in watercolor and collage and just slightly enhanced in photoshop.

babybug cover

babybug cover

My latest book, the Case of the Missing Donut written by Alison McGhee is an example of a piece that’s done mostly on the computer.

donut spread

donut spread

For breaks, we have a little communal nook for reading, visiting friends, sketching or snacking…mostly snacking.

reading nook

reading nook

And after a long day of drawing, I like to just stare at a pretty night sky (er…skyline).

view from our window

view from our window

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Just wonderful having Isabel joining our throng.

Do visit her website, and do make sure you grab copies of her book The case of the Missing Donut.

 

One Response to Look at my Desk – Isabel Roxas

  1. What a lovely space – and I love that cover too!

    Candy Gourlay September 14, 2013 at 2:01 am Reply

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