Can you tell us how it all began?

It started properly about five years ago. I had come back from a massive trip and a massive break-up, it sounds really cliché, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew that wanted to do something creative. I never knew that illustration existed as a career, but I knew that I drew all the time, so I thought “I can do that!” So I enrolled with Enmore TAFE and did Design and illustration I dropped out after a year because it didn’t feel right.

Why did you drop out from TAFE?

It was a combination of things. I was offered a job doing graphics with a production company, had a solo art show coming up at Wedge Gallery in Kinokuniya, a duo show with Hazzy Bee at the Corner and just felt like I wanted to be doing shit. I’d put myself out there already and anything I didn’t know I’d just learn from asking people and trying it out. I had started doing public art, street murals and stuff like that. So it really just started from there.

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How did you find your style and has it evolved over the years?

The style definitely came about after a break-up. Then I went on to do a project with the Sketch Book Program in Brooklyn. I had this theme and I just got absorbed by it. I started drawing really freely from my head and I think that’s how everything started. My style has definitely changed over time, I mean it always evolves into new stages, especially with the introduction of the digital medium into my work.

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Can you tell us more about the Brooklyn Sketch Book Program?

They are a group based in Brooklyn New York, they have a website and a physical library. Sketch Book Program usually happens once a year and anyone can contribute. They have a list of different themes to choose from, they send you out an empty moleskin and then you just fill the pages however you want to go with that theme. You then send it back and then they keep it in the library there. There is this massive space with everyone’s anything! You can visit the library, they have a listed of every contributor and you can asked to see anyone’s work, you can’t take the books out but you can sit and read / look through them in the space.

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What’s your favourite project that you have worked on so far?

My favourite project would probably be the kid’s book that I worked on last year. I was approached by complete strangers, a couple in Marrickville, to do this book. It’s a great collaboration – Peter Warrington does the writing and Rachel Williams does street art photography, then they ask a different illustrator or artist to put their drawings into the photographs along with the story. That was really daunting for me at first because I had never done something like it, but it was actually the most organic and fun experience I have ever done and they have both become really great friends of mine. It consumed my life for a whole year; it was just such an awesome project.

What was the book called?
 You Make The Dreams.

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Are there any illustrators you would like to collaborate with?

 My top of the list would probably be Mel Kadel, she is an illustrator based in America, and I just love the stuff she produces. It all revolves around a female character and she works with watercolour and fine inks. Her work is incredible because it is very illustrative and empowering, it just shows all these emotions which I really like.

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Anyone locally?

 Yeah there is always heaps of people here I want to work with. I really love Max Berry’s work; early on he did lots of character driven work. Now his work has evolved into landscapes which is beautiful, but I collaboratively, I would love to work with him on his character stuff.

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List three things inspiring your work right now:

  1. People always!
  2. Travel – In the sense of absolute freedom and adventure.
  3. That Happy Sad place where you have the loss of something, but there is something beautiful in that loss. Not sure what you call that?

What does “create or die” mean to you?
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See more of this talented lady’s work here: http://akisiew.com/