How did you get started doing what you do?
Growing up I always felt a sense of contentment and ease when being creative. I could drift away and get lost in the creative process when drawing and painting which is a sensation I didn’t find in any other past time. In school I enjoyed Art, Design Technology and Product Design the most, and although I wasn’t sure which degree to study for first, I think going with Illustration was the right way forward. I love being creative, however that may be. From decorating my furniture to drafting ideas for a well thought-out illustration. I have never been dissuaded to going into another field of work, and I just want to progress as an illustrator and general creative mind.

How would you describe your creative style?
I think my aesthetic is hard to describe but the most important thing is that I only work by hand. I love the tangibility art can express and I try to emphasise this when I work. I am currently obsessed with creating delicately detailed papercuts and I try to use bright colours to make them look cute and quirky. With most illustrations you have to look closely to see little aspects but I like that some things aren’t so obvious.

What’s your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from my surroundings and personal interests, and my illustrations are recreations of items and scenery which catch my attention. For example, I find retro objects such as old cameras and consoles inexplicably cool, maybe because I grew up with them. I made a papercut of my Polaroid 600 camera and got the chance to paint it on an electricity box in Flensburg (Germany), and I am almost finished with a Mario Kart race from the Game Boy Advance version. I love flowers and animals and have two cheeky rabbits which I draw inspiration from too. I get new ideas from my experiences such as my latest endeavor to create personalised hand drawn maps. I came up with this because I created it as a gift for my partner and then realised that it is something innovative and what lots of people, or couples, could enjoy: a compilation of all the important places visited throughout a relationship. It makes me happy to be able to create things I would be fond of because then I know I am not doing something meaningless.

Interview with Illustrator, Chantelle Bell on Jung Katz
Interview with Illustrator, Chantelle Bell on Jung Katz

What is art to you?
Art to me is an expression of imagination translated into the visual. That sounds a bit far out, but I believe art is a form of escapism and an outlet for people. In terms of illustration, I think it can help explain, inspire and encourage an onlooker.

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
Even though some of my illustrations look simple, such as the pansies, it took a long time to create. If I am rushed I try and get sketches done within half a day and then move on to creating the final image, but in this example, I knew what I wanted to make from the beginning so it was a case of cutting each layer and gluing them together carefully. The whole thing took about 10 hours, which is nothing in comparison to how long I worked on the view of buildings in Flensburg, Germany (with the church on the left-hand side) which needed about 5 days. Because the actual illustration is smaller than A5, it was fiddly work. It doesn’t bother me at all since I like working this way, it just meant I had to be careful that the parts were layered together perfectly and represented the buildings sufficiently. I love little details so it was difficult to decide which details were important and which to leave out. I think other artists can understand the time and energy it takes to create work, even when the first glance tells you it is something simple.

What do you want others to take away from your work?
I want people who like my style of work to enjoy looking at it. I don’t know how to phrase it other than that. Some of the illustrations in my online portfolio are more than just images, and draw parallels between languages (Idioms & Redewendungen) but even then, if someone thinks they are not nice to look at then they are not acting as an attractive visual form, which is what I want my work to be.

Interview with Illustrator, Chantelle Bell on Jung KatzInterview with Illustrator, Chantelle Bell on Jung Katz
Interview with Illustrator, Chantelle Bell on Jung Katz

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
I think the best advice I have been given is that it is better to do something you love, rather than something you hate just to earn money. It is really difficult to stick to this because the world revolves around it, and most things you need to get by demand money to start off with. I am very lucky that my partner supports my decision to work in the creative field and to pursue my career, but I know not everyone has this luxury. No matter how long it takes for me to be able to support myself with just my art, I am going to strive to keep focused on what is important to me, which is creativity.

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
If being creative is what makes you happy, pursue it. Because we only live once, and no matter how much rejection you get, keep trying to move forward because there is a group of people out there who are looking for exactly your style, you just have to find them.

Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I think I like the idea of personalised illustrations and want move forward with this. I am taking commissions of personalised maps as I think it is a lovely idea to give someone a gift not intended for anyone else. I think it would also give me the sense of accomplishment to know I made someone smile and made a small difference in the world, however cheesy it may sound. I think I would also like to do more personalised pet papercut portraits. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do this, but I think as soon as I have purchased a few more unusual shades of paper I will be able to have a go. I have created two so far, one of which is of my family’s cat Yoshi, who always gives you this stare as if to ask what you want.

Interview with Illustrator, Chantelle Bell on Jung Katz
Interview with Illustrator, Chantelle Bell on Jung Katz

What art supplies do you use?
To make my papercut illustrations I use a scalpel, cutting board, and three different size pairs of scissors. Now and then the little pair of scissors goes missing under the pile of coloured paper but it always resurfaces again. I also use scrap paper sometimes to draw a copy of the designs from my sketchbook if I want to quickly try out a new layout or size. For my paintings, I use acrylic paint, normally on canvas with various brushes, the smallest of which is 0.6. Lastly, for my personalised maps I use a 0.3 black fine liner pen for the final illustration, and cartridge paper.

How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
I think there is a serious flaw in the art industry when it comes to underestimating the value of new or young talent by exploiting illustrators and artists. By this I mean the line that every struggling artist starting out has heard: it is good exposure. We rack up debt, try to stay positive when dealing with daily rejection emails, and then one positive reply comes in saying someone loves our work and wants to have such and such (for free!) which will “open doors” for us. It is unacceptable to request this of any other field of work, and I find it hard to imagine free legal representation, or a free taxi ride, etc. being the norm which would lead to new opportunities. An artist has the choice to offer their hours of labour as a favour, but unless that happens it should never even be thought about, let alone be the only option on the table. Amazing work is produced by people who may not have a lot of experience, but that doesn’t mean their time should be any less appreciated and that is all that I would like to be changed.

Follow Chantelle Bell on Twitter and Tumblr.


Posted by:Casey Webb

Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Jung Katz, as well as Editor for ZIIBRA.


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