Marina Muun

Folk-inspired narratives and otherworldly figures characterise the work of this illustrator, whose pastel-hued scenes fuse fantasy with childhood memories from her native Bulgaria.

Tell us about a particularly satisfying project you've worked on recently.

Recently I created a wrapping paper design for Wrap magazine based on an old Bulgarian folk tale, which was really fun to do. I enjoy creating images based on a narrative and it gave me a chance to reconnect with some childhood memories. It was especially rewarding seeing presents beautifully wrapped in my paper too – there’s something about applied art that I find very appealing.

What is your preferred medium to work in?

I work mainly digitally because it gives me more freedom, but my background is in oil and acrylic painting. I still let some of that seep into my work occasionally because I love the texture.  An image usually starts as an idea in my sketchbook which I then scan and edit in Photoshop and Illustrator and introduce some handmade textures. I’ve also been experimenting with some Risograph printing recently and would like to try fabric printing in the future.

Talk us through your process. 

My sketchbook is my go-to place for developing concepts and working out ideas. I usually go through many pages of partial drawings and thumbnail sketches before I create something I am happy with but when that finally happens I usually recognise it straight away. Sometimes I clean up my hand drawn sketches, scan them in and use them as a base for the digital image, other times I draw them directly into Photoshop. When I work digitally, I usually create the entire image in black and white first in order not to get distracted by the colours. I then focus on the composition and only once that part is ready do I introduce other colours – mostly guided by intuition. This is the most exciting part for me as I feel that’s when my image finally comes together.

Which other artists have been a big influence on you?

I don’t know that I’m influenced by any one artist in particular; I tend to look at a wide selection of things. I get my inspiration from anything I find visually appealing – scientific illustration, films, photography, ceramics, folk art, Japanese prints, vintage illustration, contemporary sculpture and Art Nouveau outsider art.

Describe your studio space.

At the moment I work in my home studio, which is quite bright and airy. There’s a huge desk where I do pretty much everything from mono printing to digital work – it is usually in a bit of a state. I try to surround myself with nice things, plants, books and photos of friends and family. I also have a little chill out corner with a couch and coffee table where I read in my breaks or do some yoga.

Large fashion illustration for amelia s magazine

Fashion Illustration, Marina Muun, Amelia’s Magazine, 2013