A little Q&A with illustrator Kayansel Kaya

A little Q&A with illustrator Kayansel Kaya

Little Yucca: How did you start illustrating?

Kayansel Kaya: Actually, I am a Fine Arts graduate, I studied product design, but I never did my job. In my 20s, the exciting, creative, fast world of advertising was much more attractive, but I completely skipped the stress part. To relieve that stress, I went back to my watercolors, drawing at night without showing anyone. We moved to Barcelona in 2017. I immediately enrolled in an advertising master, eventually I would find a job and continue my profession. The courses started and I was extremely miserable. While sitting in the school yard, I saw a magnificent mural on the wall. It turns out that there was an illustration master at our school, but it was in Spanish and I did not speak Spanish and I did not have the required portfolio to enter the department. With a mad courage, for the first time in my life, I showed the watercolors I drew to relieve stress for years to the head of the department. I said to her “I promise to learn Spanish, too!” and she said ok. That’s how the journey started... 

LY: What is the most exciting thing about drawing for you?

KK: Seeing with my eyes the worlds that even I don't know are in me.

LY: So, do you think the illustrations you make for children have a general difference from other drawings?

KK: Of course there is. I actually apply the rules that I know very well in advertising in my drawings. For example, different notes are used in advertisements for children because the frequencies to which children react are different from adults. This rule applies to the colors used, animation speed, and even the eye size of the characters. For example, it is known that children bond with bigger-eyed characters faster. So Elsa's donkey eyes are not a coincidence :) you should use more rounded shapes in plant drawings, they do not like sharp points.

LY: If we ask you to describe the place and time in which you feel most creative ...

KK: Actually, my creation process is divided into two. The first is the research part. There are 1-2 libraries and bookshops that I love very much in Barcelona. I spend hours around here. Children's books, research on symbols, plant encyclopedias are like going into trance for me. The second stage is creation. Here I would like to see a Kayansel with her hands in paints, her hair with a brush and she draws in her studio until midnight, but I draw everything in my pajamas under the duvet. Some mornings I start drawing without ever getting out of bed, my cat and dog come to me. In such a habitat I take the Ipad and draw for hours without getting out of bed. In non-digital projects, although I have a study room at home, I cannot give up the dining table. I love being in the middle of the house with my paints, papers and music.

LY: Is there a book that motivates you that you can recommend to us?

KK: Oh there’s so much! :) I heard something on a podcast the other day and liked it very much. He said "You should also pay your dues on behalf of your knowledge". I guess that's exactly why I have been telling everyone on Instagram the "journaling" method I have been doing for years. Although the basis of this journaling method seems to be about being an artist, it came out of the book "The Artist's Way", which is a life guide. That book must be read.

There are also illustration books that I have looked through over and over again. Camille Vannier's "Poulou" motivates me to find my own style and hold on to it. Even though many publishing houses at our country might say "What is this drawing, disgusting?" publishing houses say, she is a very famous artist.

Old issues of Apartamento, Communication Arts, Flow and Frankie are also the magazines that I love to learn from.

LY: Which color attracts you the most while you are illustrating and why?

KK: Before I started illustration, my soul didn't like color very much. My closet was filled with black, gray and blue. For the last 3 years, pinks, reds, pomegranate and yellows have entered my life. As you can see in my drawings, I seem to be avenging the years. I cannot give up any color. The other day, a friend of mine even said, "I haven't seen anyone who uses pink as beautiful as you, you made me love pink." I was so happy to see that I clicked on doors that were not opened in the souls of these people. I know this from myself 

LY: What excites you most for 2021?

KK: We went through an extraordinary year like 2020 together as all humanity. We are all a little more calm, a little more confused, a little more free of egos. What I observe the most around me is that everybody tries to find a hobby for themselves or to improve their hobby. Many people started to reveal their talents that they had hidden for years. They questioned their jobs, the city they live in, their marriages, friends and habits. There is a very obvious awakening in the world and I think the most excited thing about 2021 is to have a new year in this awakening. Writing and drawing during this awakening ... 

pattern by Kayansel Kaya

LY: Finally, can we learn which drawing you have made for Little Yucca you like the most?

KK: Little Yucca is one of my firsts as an illustrator. It is the first brand to believe and trust me and say “why don’t you draw something for us, too” while I was still an illustration master. I still remember how excited I was in the first brief I received for the “Explorers” collection, and I think the pattern I drew for that collection reflects my current joy, excitement and the colors of my soul very well. (on the other hand, I love everything I draw)

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