We want to learn about your experience with Tuts+. Take part to earn $50! Help us out to earn $50! Get Started
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Interviews

Interview with Mary Winkler - AKA Acrylicana

Read Time:7 minsLanguages:

Mary Winkler (or Acrylicana as she is know as), has a unique and fascinating style of vector illustrations. More prominent in her illustrations, you will find a strong presence and personification of sweet delicacies like ice cream and cup cakes which tempts the taste buds.

Her vibrant and bold color palette not only attracts your attention, but leaves you feeling happy and joyful! She also uses her illustrations for variety of print products, stationary, jewelry, toys, and more. So lets move on to this tasty and delicious interview with her.

1. Welcome to VECTORTUTS! Please introduce yourself, give us a brief bio, tell us where you're from, and how you got started in digital arts, did you have any formal training in this field?

My name is Mary Winkler. I'm from, and still living in Detroit. I began with pixel art in digital media and became rather interested in other forms (painting, doodling, vector, ect). Not much formal training in terms of digital art, but I did a few years in art school majoring in illustration (took figure, anatomy, painting, color theory, techniques, perspective, and history courses -- all good fun).

2. At what age did you realize you wanted to be an illustrator? How was your first brush with vector illustrations? What programs or software do you use to create your vector artwork?

When I was a little kid I wanted to be an artist when I grew up (whatever that means -- I also wanted to be a cicada...). When I was 19, I had a wonderful figure professor who regaled me with tales of her freelance illustration career. I decided this was my obsession and followed it.

I noticed a web comic "When I am King"  by demian5 and fell in love with the clean lines and graphic style. From then on I noticed this brilliant medium that I had to utilize. I use Adobe Illustrator and my Wacom Intous 3 for vector work (pretty typical).

3. How did you learn Adobe Illustrator? I know a lot of people who thinks it is a tough application to master. Any pointers? Which tool in Illustrator that you find yourself using the most?

I learned the program through using it. I was already rather familiar with Photoshop, so it wasn't too hard to pick up. There's still plenty for me to learn in using both programs, most definitely.

The best pointer I have is to just use it. It's like any medium: get in there and get messy. You'll soon find out what portions of the media you find easy and what portions you don't. I use the Pen tool mostly.

4. Walk us through the creation of a typical image for you. How long does it take to create? Do you work with or without reference images? If so, do you ever find yourself vectoring things out of your imagination?

Typically I sketch it out either in Photoshop or in my sketchbook. Sometimes I'm feeling adventurous and go with marker on bristol, mistakes and all. Scan it in, either clean it up and edit it in Photoshop or import it straight into Illustrator. From there I either recreate my linework with the Pen tool making the strokes into shapes or just a single stroke. Or I recreate the shapes that I made without lineart and add a stroke later.

It depends on what I'm doing if I use reference or not. If it's something very specific, like a bubblegum machine, I Google around for a bit to see what they generally look like. Then it's time to draw a few out in photoshop or in my sketchbook. After that I create the lineart, colors, gradients, shadows (I don't use the Gradient Mesh tool..it's one of the (I'm sure) many things I've never really gotten into using in Illustrator) and whatever else that makes the image work. I do work from my imagination all the time. I'd say it's predominately how I work.

5. One finds a strong presence of yummylicious delicacies like ice-cream. cup cakes, sweet treats in your illustrations. How do they inspire you towards your artistic aesthetics?

They're pretty. I don't even find many of the things I doodle that tasty -- they just look nice and fluffy and sparkly. It's all eye candy.

6. Which is your favorite piece of work that you have created so far and why? What was the inspiration and idea behind it?

I think one of my favorites is Music for the Masses. I'm mostly just really fond of it still. Quite often I'll get really tired of looking at my work within a week, always seeing just the flaws in it. That piece, as well as its two sister pieces, are still kind of fresh to me nearly a year later.

Aside from the clear Depeche Mode reference in the title, I was watching some programs of Dawn French interviewing various comics (Girls Who Do: Comedy and Boys Who Do: Comedy). For whatever reason that piece really came together while having a little marathon of the series.

The main idea behind the piece was to combine various elements I made a list of previously. I mostly work like that now, from lists.

7. All your illustrations have a happy, cheerful color composition. Why do you like to use those colors. How do colors appeal to you and how do you organize your color palette?

I love bright colors. They're pretty to me. I really go for everything that POPS. I'm heavily influenced by pop art, especially Peter Max and all that brilliant day-glo insanity of the 80's. Fashion is a huge thing for me. It's informed my color sense in a huge way. That and rainbows. I'm probably just ridiculously neurotic and like to see order in it, or something.

8. I see you print your illustrations in variety of mediums like t-shirts, fashion apparel, kid's stuffs, and more. What are the do's and don'ts that you keep in mind while creating your digital vector arts which you plan to print?

I plan to print most of my work, and do. I make sure I work an image in at least 300 dpi and that the colors on my screen will print out exactly the same either on my printers or if I send them off to another company -- usually they do. If I'm aiming to have it screen printed, I tend to keep the number of colors way down, versus something I'm doing for a giclee piece. Also, size ratio plays a part. If I want a piece to fill the space of a print in a certain way, I'll see how a certain size fits in relation to common print sizes: 4x6, 8x10, etc.

9. What changes do you see happening in digital arts in next few years?

I really have no idea. It seems to be in a constant state of change. I simply hope that it reflects a place for my work and that I don't become hopelessly irrelevant.

10. Who is your artistic role model? Are there any particular artist(s) that you get inspiration from? Or any particular website(s)?

Peter Max, Maragaret Keane, and Mucha are my main sources of "ooooh! aaah!". I also really dig 60's and 70's pop art. There's a lot that fits into that group, including Max and Keane.

11. What are your other hobbies and how do they influence your creative artistic endeavors?

I think most of my hobbies are of a creative/artistic nature. Things like jewelry making, drawing, sewing, print making...they all began as hobbies for me when I was a kid and now they're allowing me to take my illustrative work to new and different levels.

12.Thanks Mary, for the opportunity to interview you, any final thoughts? What would you like to tell aspiring designers and vector artists?

Follow your obsessions. It'll drive you nuts, but you'll probably wind up happier than just being passionate about what you're doing. Thanks so much for the interview! :)

Where to find Mary (AKA: Acrylicana) on the Web:

Subscribe to the VECTORTUTS RSS Feed to stay up to date with the latest vector tutorials and articles.

One subscription.
Unlimited Downloads.
Get unlimited downloads