Artist Interview with Adriana Bellet

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Meet Adriana Bellet. Adriana Bellet/Jeez Vanilla is an editorial illustrator that delights in painting spirited faces and colourful spaces. She draws and paints for various international publications, both for digital and print projects. She has been freelancing ever since graduating in 2009 with a postgrad from UAL’s London School of Printing and she’s still loving it thanks to her awesome clients which include The Washington Post, NBC, The Guardian, GQ and Penguin Random House.

Originally from Barcelona, she now works out of her home studio in Stockholm, Sweden. These days she prefers working digitally with her iPad but occasionally she will dig up her acrylics and paint away, but regardless of the medium, there’s always a steaming cup of coffee by her side.  You can read more about Adriana below. Adriana will also be exhibiting work this coming Friday, Feb 22nd in Tasteful Nudes.


Hi Adriana! What does your ideal workspace look like? Is there any aspect of your process that is essential for you when creating work?

Until about a year ago, I mainly worked in acrylics and used to sit at my studio desk, then located in the kitchen. But then I got an iPad Pro and my options grew exponentially. Now I work from wherever the light is better, or the best coffee is; sometimes from the sofa and every once in a while from my studio desk, now situated in the back of my lounge. So all in all, I’m pretty un-precious about the working backdrop!

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What have you learned about your creative habits over the last few years?

I am a big procrastinator, oddly even when it comes to do what I love most. With time I’ve come to realize that the only thing that matters is that I actually pick up the pen and start drawing, after that everything flows. And so, to start my days on the right foot, I routinely doodle for 20 to 30 minutes every morning with pen and paper, before opening any digital devise and getting sucked in the whirlwind of emails and social media.

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Since color is an important aspect of your work, how do you go about choosing a color pallet for your pieces? Can you tell me more about the color theories, symbolism, research, or considerations for these projects?

I was born and grew up in Spain, where colour is everywhere and in all kinds of crazy combinations. And I hated it. Then I moved to Sweden, where everything is Nordic-black-and-white-with-a-slight-touch-of-birch. After my southern upbringing, I loved the new colour sensory deprivation, for a while at least. After a few years, I started to really miss the vibrancy and warmth of the reds and yellows that I grew up surrounded by. And so, I made it my goal to learn how to tame colour and use it in my illustrations as a way to tell as much of the story as the lines do. I read many books, started paying attention to the photography in the movies, looked at the colour combinations in the street and slowly trained my eye to the tones that I connected with the most. Nowadays, I’ve internalized it enough that when choosing colour combinations I can afford to go with my gut feeling. But if I had to choose, I always lean towards warm colours and analogous palettes with a pop of color to balance it out.

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What have been some of your favorite projects to date? If you had the option to choose any format, object, book, illustration, textile, what kinds of things would you be making?

I am kind of an excitable puppy when it comes to work and get energy from trying new things, so unless things are going terribly wrong, I tend to think whatever I’m doing at any given moment is the best thing since chicken soup. However, I am now working on my first book cover and I’m pretty sure that really is the best thing ever! :)

What is your creative mantra?

Never abandon a piece, because an idea that your gut thought worth pursuing deserves you discovering what’s at the end of it. Perhaps you won’t work on it for months or even years, but eventually it will be the right moment for it, when your skill has leveled up or your frame of minds finally fits the idea perfectly. And then that piece might become the best thing you’ve ever done. Or it won’t, but at least you will find out. 

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How has your work developed and changed since you first started creating? Can you share any of your current creative goals/resolutions?

It’s seems crazy now, but when I stated illustrating I would do so only in black and white! I am self-taught and now I understand that my preference for monotone came from a fear of working with colour, but back then I swore that it was my preference! With time my skill improved and I discovered acrylic, and with it colour started to leak into my pieces but I wasn’t very good colour mixing. My turning point was when I let go of my prejudices and tried painting digitally. Within days I realized that I had found my perfect medium and my skills leveled up almost instantly. My big dream now is to have the guts to tackle creating a comic but used as I am to creating one-off illustrations, I’m baffled by the shear size of the task!

What plans do you have for your work in the upcoming year? Any projects coming that you can speak about?

I hope to keep working on editorial projects because I love that these kind of assignments allow me to learn things I would never have otherwise. Besides that I’m working on opening an online shop with illustrated stationary.

Could you speak more about your piece for the Tasteful Nudes exhibition on February 22nd?

Muse is a mix of all the influences that are strong on me these days. I recently became fascinated with the characters in  Tamara de Lempicka’s work. And last time I was in Kyoto, I went to the National museum and became fascinated by the paintings of every day life of women at the turn of the century. The images elevate any small task to one of delicate beauty. I wanted my piece to have embody both of these inspirations while keeping the cheecky-ness that I like my personal pieces to have.

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Where can people follow/find your work? (links)

The quickest way to find me is in Instagram at @jeezvanilla (https://www.instagram.com/jeezvanilla/). And the best to know me is by signing up to my newsletter at “A Much Abridged Journal” (http://www.jeezvanilla.com/about). Thank you! :)

Artist Interview with Adriana Bellet