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interview with Isabelle Orr

Student Spotlight: Isabelle Orr


Meet Isabelle Orr! This year, we couldn’t take profile pictures of our PRM team due to COVID-19, so she is the artist behind our profile icons, as well as the designer of the Digital and Print Publishing ad for PRM 2020. In this interview, we talk about her rediscovered passion for illustration.

Question: When did you start doing illustrations?
Isabelle: Ever since I was little, I’ve liked drawing cartoons and illustrations. I used to read a lot of Archie comics, and I would try to redraw them. Then, I started drawing my family and friends. It was really fun to look at people and try to figure out how they would look as cartoons. I would do it all the time in class instead of listening to the teacher. Sometimes they would come by and see I was drawing rude pictures of them, and I would get in trouble!

Q: What was the process of illustrating everyone for PRM?
I: I made a list of everyone’s most distinguishing features, which is very dangerous because no one wants to know what their most distinguishing features are! Then I looked at everyone’s pictures for reference and focused first on the shape of their face. Then I would work layer by layer, so after their face, I would draw hair, shoulders, and facial features last. It was a step-by-step process.

Q: How did the DPUB program affect your creativity?
I: This program was an excellent entryway for me into design and illustration. I’ve done writing and editorial work before, and I thought I would work primarily on editorial, which I did for both the print and the web versions of PRM. But as we were learning our foundational classes, like Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, I found that all the projects we had to work on helped me find an illustration style that was fun to do. I became more confident in my illustration and design abilities, because I realized I could make art in the same style that I admired but thought I could never do myself.

Q: What influences your work?
I: I have friends in Vancouver who work with different mediums—printmaking, weaving, sculpture, and hand painting. Seeing all of their styles and work always inspires me. There’s also a really cool resurgence in art that’s kind of Matisse-inspired and draws also on a Scandinavian style. It uses lots of great shapes and bright but muted colours like the ones found in this year’s PRM.
And I love clothes! From more contemporary styles to vintage, you can find really interesting shapes, silhouettes, and textures. Fashion is always changing, so keeping up-to-date with trends can help you discover new colour palettes and patterns for your designs. In my DPUB ad, I’m wearing an outfit I wear all the time!

Q: Do you want to keep illustrating?
I: I feel like I have a newfound passion for design, because I’m always doing it on my spare time and noticing aspects of it on the street or social media. Now that I’ve realized how into design and illustration I am, I want to pursue them, and see what kind of paths I can find that let me work more creatively.

Q: Any advice or anything you may want to add?
I: Learn how to take critiques, because it’s very hard. And learn how to take a compliment, because that’s equally hard and just as important!