Pilgrim Lee, aka Draw! Pilgrim has been on my ‘must make contact with this person’ list for some time… ever since I discovered her through the very clever and clued-in Jenny Butler! When I first saw Pilgrim’s gorgeous website and striking work I was immediately baffled that I hadn’t previously known about her! It was another one of those ‘have I been living under a rock!!?’ moments (not uncommon around here). Pilgrim has such a brilliant, cheerful illustration style, not to mention a beautifully-designed and super-popular blog… I find it extremely weird that I was not across this all much much earlier!
Anyway no use dwelling over it… I FINALLY e-introduced myself recently and I feel very lucky to be able to share some of Pilgrim’s work with you now! Originally from Adelaide but now living in Melbourne with her boyfriend and son, Ms Lee has her own stationery / print business… she’s also a freelance designer / illustrator and prolific Etsy seller… and her BLOG is seriously awesome too. And she’s just 27 years young! Sheesh. I thought I knew all about multitasking!?
Huge thanks to Pilgrim for her super-speedy interview turnaround time(!!), and for sharing such bright and cheery work with us all on the most supremely depressing wintery week in Melbourne :( (If you live somewhere else and are experiencing fabulous warm weather and blue skies, I don’t want to know about it!) x
Tell us a little about your background – What path has led you to what you’re doing now?
For me there was just the one path – both my parents were creative, my mum was a graphic designer and my dad worked as a photographer then a chocolatier amongst other things, so expressing myself and creating and admiring nice looking things was hard wired in me. At home I’d leaf through my mum’s graphics magazines, and I’d spent every school holidays running riot in her office. Her co-workers indulged my interests in photography and film and video. For a creative person, it was an enviable childhood. Even I envy little me and wish I could go back and have access to all that great stuff! So as I got older I helped my mum with freelance work and had experience of what its actually like to work in that field. It was all very natural, and though I’ve had urges to do other things, design is what I come back to.
How would you describe your design / illustration style?
My work is very colourful and graphic, I like bold shapes and patterns. I’m greatly influenced by the 60’s and 70’s style in general and hugely powered by nostalgia so lots of my inspiration comes from my childhood exposure to that era.
You seem to have fitted a lot into the last few years! Moving from Adelaide to the UK to Melbourne… what made you settle down in Melbourne in the end?! Or will you be off somewhere new again soon?!
I have fitted a lot in! The last ten years have been immensely turbulent in both good and bad ways. I settled in Melbourne when I got together with my gorgeous boyfriend. My mum died the year before and it was time to start a new chapter in my life. My boyfriend and I had been friends online for years and on a whim I came to visit him and the rest is history! Now, ten years after first bonding over a shared love of David Bowie, we have a son and are lucky to be in a cute house and we’re happy. I love Melbourne – but we do have not-so-secret dreams of living in California one day soon.
In addition to juggling freelance work, your gorgeous card and print sales, writing an AWESOME blog… you’re also a busy young Mum! How on earth do you fit all that in?! Do you have a strict routine or any secret tips about multitasking we should know about?
It’s hard! I won’t sugar coat this, its hard work. I have a time management system I worked out and so housework is broken up, and my working time is spaced out to coincide with when my son is eating or having rest time. It has helped me to map out my time into a ridiculous-looking schedule, but if I know what’s ahead I can subconsciously prepare to start working etc. We don’t have anyone to mind our son unless we pay them so, it’s just us! I have a scary looking calendar and filofax that is the only thing between me and utter chaos, I’m sure every parent can identify. It’s very hard work, but what can you do? I love my work and I love my family so they all have to co-exist! My secret tip would be to write down every single idea you have and have a big folder/pinboard/sketchbook or all of the above to keep as a brain dump.
What does a typical day at work involve for you?
If my son is home I spend my time hanging out with him and then working while he eats breakfast and lunch. My boyfriend gets home in the evening and we all hang out and eat dinner. Then everything kicks into gear when my son’s in bed. My boyfriend does bedtimes, so I put the finishing touches on my blog post for the following day and get stuck into some work. I try to get the better part of my blog posts done over the weekend so it’s minimal effort during the week and I can focus on getting a new print design done, or a freelance illustration put together. Mid week is my favourite time because my boyfriend works from home, and my son is at kindergarten. I go to pilates and run errands then come home and can work for a whole blissful day. I really can’t underestimate how much I love having a solid day of guilt free working!
Where do you turn for creative inspiration – books, international magazines, the internet, your environment, travel, nature, family or friends… etc?
I’ve created a home that inspires me, and it’s filled with inspiring books that I’ve inherited and collected. I also do a lot of online “window shopping” on Ebay and Etsy. And as I mentioned my own nostalgia is a big source of inspiration. Something as little as remembering the colours on a scarf my grandma wore is enough to deliver a fully formed design to my mind.
Which other designers, artists or creative people are you most inspired by at the moment?
I’m really inspired by Vera Neumann‘s style and her story. I’d like to follow her trajectory from kitchen table to world domination ha ha! Also the work of Alexander Girard, Marimekko/Maija Isola, Georges Briard and John Clappison to name just a few.
What would be your dream creative project?
Having my own housewares collection to design is my ultimate dream. I really cherish the things in my home and if I could share the thrill I get when I use a favourite mug etc then I’d be a very happy lady.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to getting more experience, and some more time to work, and expanding my Draw! Pilgrim products. I’m also looking forward to a holiday at the end of the year! Generally, I’m just very optimistic for what the future has to bring. As far as I’m concerned things can only get better.
Your favourite Melbourne neighbourhood and why?
I love where we live, in St Kilda East. its a really interesting area full of quirky little places and lots of Jewish guys in big furry hats. anywhere with hats is an exciting place to me.
Your favourite bookstore in Melbourne for reference books and inspiration?
Where / what was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?
Without grandparents to babysit we’re relegated to brunch dining-out and Grindhouse on Carlisle st do a really great brunch. And they’re always playing interesting records too, so it’s multi-sensory nourishment. But for a surprisingly great dinner the Carlisle st Wine Bar is a bit of a hidden gem.
Melbourne’s best kept secret?
Well Balaclava/St Kilda East is a bit secret but its getting more attention since we moved here (not because we moved here ha ha it’s just timing!). And I feel like North Melbourne is a well kept secret. I haven’t thoroughly explored it yet, but I’ve hung out there recently and O’m shocked there aren’t more people enjoying the cute shops and bars.