Her name is Aja Wells (first name pronounced Asia), and she’s an illustrator, designer, and full-time freelancer. I first noticed her work when she uploaded photographs of her postcards and business cards on GotPrint’s Facebook fan page. Her youthful, vivid illustrations reminded me of the fairy tales, folktales, and story books I grew up on. Curious to learn more about her work, I asked Aja if she would be interested in an informal interview session.
Aja begins most of her work on a smooth, bristol board. She then scans and fully paints in Adobe Photoshop using an Intuos3 Wacom tablet. When Aja sketches, she keeps a moleskine and fills it up with Tombow pen drawings.
Aja’s influences include Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), E.H. Shepard (Winnie the Pooh), and Racy Helps, who is famous for postcard illustrations. “They all preferred to draw animal characters, which I really relate to. The characters and worlds they created really touch me in a way that a lot of contemporary work does not.”
But not all of her illustrations are catered towards the children’s market–most of her illustrations have been used privately for corporations. She’s also worked as a creative designer in packaging, branding, layout and design, as well as a design consultant. In addition, she’s active in art organizations, such as the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. And if that isn’t enough to keep her busy, Aja is also working on a magazine project to get youth artwork and writing published.
“I tend to get bored if I have to dedicate all my time to one project. By diversifying into a few different but related areas, my mind stays fresh. I’ve recently been working on some activity sheets which I am really enjoying.”
Aja proves that even with great skill and training, it’s not always easy: “Despite years of figure drawing, I still loathe drawing human heads and hands!”
And what advice can she offer to aspiring artists out there?
“I hear so many young artists lament that they don’t have a style. The best advice I can offer is to not go searching for your style. Instead, keep doing studies and create art that is fun for you to make. In time, you’ll find certain nuances in your work that make it your own. From there, you can work on developing it.”
And, as for business cards? “I’ve only handed out a handful of business cards since I do the majority of my networking online, however, I’ll always keep them in my wallet because you never know who you will meet!”