Dark Arts

Given the richness of detail and emotional charge in her work, it will surprise you to find that this Bangkok-based illustrator still considers herself an amateur of the discipline. 

Large suthipa raven

What’s your favourite spot for drawing? 
To draw, I like being alone in my own space. I especially like working at home –there is a tiny room that gets natural light all day, it is somewhere I can concentrate on drawing and work without any disturbances. Personally, I find working at home is the way to be efficient and flexible. It lets me manage my time effectively, both in terms of my professional work and my daily life. It allows me to start as early as I want, to have a break when I want, perhaps take a nap or workout and then get back to drawing again at night. However, I like to have quite a strict schedule and be fairly disciplined throughout the working day.

What’s the most recent photo you’ve taken with your phone? 
It was a closeup shot of a fern in the evening sunshine near my home. The picture showed off all the veins and textures. It was just beautiful and I wanted to keep that moment.

Where do you go for inspiration?   
I gain inspiration almost anywhere – travelling, meeting people, listening to their stories. More specifically, being in nature gives me time to think, to be immersed, and to see everything more clearly. I get a lot of my ideas while trekking in the forest, across hills and so on. In my process, music also really helps me to see the overall image when I start drawing. If I'm a bit stuck, surfing on Flickr is also a great  way to view the world from different perspectives.

What are you working on right now? 
At the moment I’m working on several projects for clients alongside my personal drawing. The first commercial project is creating a pattern for a fashion brand in Copenhagen. It is in a very early stage, so we are still talking about drawing ideas at the moment. The intention is that it might be a part of their AW15 collection. Another commercial job is creating an artwork based on shoals of animals for a resort on Koh Tao island, Thailand. The final result will be transferred to the venue’s wooden walls as a part of the interior decoration. This is a long term project that I have been working on for a year and it is has been really fun conjuring up creatures from my imagination. 

What inspires your choice of subjects? 
Most of my drawings are inspired by nature and stories that I learn from the different people that I meet. I personally choose to work on subjects that are connected to me in some way, such as places I’ve been and animals I like or I’ve encountered. 

Your images seem to hover somewhere between reality and fantasy –  the images are exacting in detail but often convey a sense of mysticism  –  how do you mediate between the two? 
In my view, we live in a world of obscurity. Everything has reality and fantasy within it. In nature, fact is mostly imaginary knowledge, we can’t really differentiate between the real and the unreal.  This is also my idea of storytelling, which contains the truths and the imaginings of many people over time.

One of the things that seems to characterise your work is the density of marks that are used to build up your images – how and why has this particular style developed? 
This style occurred in some of my very first drawings, almost by accident. It might have been because I didn’t know how to start. At that time I was happy when the lines just shaped unique forms and textures. For me it’s a form of meditation, and I'm still excited to see the end result every time I start a new piece. 

Who are your heroes? 
Ordinary people. 

Tell us about the piece of work you’re most proud of. 
One of the images I am most proud of is a raven drawing for The Weather Diaries It was a project for the Nordic Fashion Biennale 2014 exhibition, which was held in Germany and Denmark. The final artwork was transferred into a poster, motion graphic and a book cover. For this project I worked for two talented artists, Cooper & Gorfer, who pushed me out of my comfort zone.

What’s the biggest challenge of working in the way that you do?
Since my background is in graphic design, mostly working with computers and digital tools, I don’t have a wealth of experience in drawing in its raw form. Sometimes, it is quite difficult to see how to start a piece or how to progress beyond a certain point; though this also means that each picture still feels like a brand new adventure, which is quite exciting.

Where would you like to be in a year’s time? 
At the moment I work both on graphic design, illustration and art. I am at a stage of exploration in my career and I need to find the right balance. I intend to concentrate more on drawing and art moving forward. In addition I plan on pursuing several more projects based on pattern design and fabric, which could be developed into a variety of products in the future.