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Sha'an d'Anthes of Furry Little Peach

Attending Adobe MAX this year was my first time visiting Vegas, and also attending a 12,000 visitor conference !  It was whirlwind of new and exciting things to take in – you can read some snippets in my earlier post, here.

One encounter that stood out was meeting fellow Aussie, Sha’an d’Anthes. Sha’an has a huge following under the guise of her Furry Little Peach blog and social media accounts. She was a joy to spend some time with, among the busy seminars and bright lights in Vegas!

The 25-year-old illustrator, designer and exhibiting artist recently released her first book ‘Zoom’ teaching kids about the solar system. We recently caught up with her back on home soil for a tour of her cute Sydney studio. 

How did you find your way into illustration and art?

I knew I wanted to be an artist from a super early age, but in high school I thought art was “too impractical” – I discovered design and fell in love. I decided to study Graphic Design.

When I started uni, I was also doing freelance collaborations for commercial brands (murals, live art, album art), because of this uni wasn’t as much of a learning experience for me as much as the real world stuff I was working on was. I’m glad I have the piece of paper that says I can do what I do, but it was the internships I completed and settling into a digital design job, that was a real learning experience and turning point for me.

A year ago I was getting enough freelance work to sustain myself and so I resigned from my design job and now I’m fortunate enough to focus on illustration full time. I’m loving drawing for a living!

Your Blog Furry Little Peach is hugely popular, with the Instagram having amassed more than 143,000 followers. What motivated you to start it, and the unique name?

I originally started my Tumblr blog in year 11, because I was trying to avoid preparing for the HSC. I wish the story was more interesting, but I was just trying to come up with a username to use, and I liked the word ‘peach’ so it’s really a fluke that it still fits my work and I now.

There’s no real meaning, and it’s a fluke that it kind of works with the work that I create now.

Where do you find inspiration?

This is always a really hard question to answer because we (artists) all have interests, art or otherwise, that don’t really translate to the work we make. I think true inspiration can only come randomly, at the weirdest times – like on the bus! Or in the shower. It’s like this magic you can’t manifest – you just have to make sure the environment is right, and wait for it to come.

The most authentic ideas come when you least expect it.

Your output spans artwork, painterly illustrations, pins and linen collaborations to name a sample. How would you describe your style, and do you have a prefered media?

I would like to describe my work as vibrant, joyful and nostalgic – it’s a mix between the world I want to live in and my own experiences, things that I like and things I like to listen to. I focus a lot on the things that make me happy in my work and I think people can see and feel that joy which perhaps resonates with them too.

Watercolour is definitely my favourite medium. It’s like a wild animal; you put it down and it does whatever it wants – you just have to hope you can tame it on the page. When I was studying Visual Art & Design they taught us oil painting – watercolour was something I saw people using online and was inspired to try it from there!

Do you have a favourite project so far?

My book, ‘Zoom’, is a big monument in my career so far.

I also recently designed some bed sheets, which was really fun because it was for a big Kickstarter project. I was just so amazing to do something so large scale, and that would be so practically useful to people’s lives. This made me fall in love with homewares, so I’d love to collaborate with ceramicists or textile designers to bring my work into everyday lives more in the future. 

Can you tell us more about ‘Zoom’ and how it came about?

When I was five I told my Mum that I wanted to write and draw my own books! It’s now happened 19 years later! I really didn’t expect it to happen this early, because I left my full-time job thinking a book would be a long term life goal. But then, somehow, my publisher ended up emailing me and asking if I had ever thought about doing a children’s book. I pitched some ideas, they loved them, and we got started!

The book follows a child character named ‘Scout’ and a rocket ‘Beattie’. I wanted to teach kids about the Solar System. I was a really visual learner at school, and I feel that I never really picked up maths or science because of this. I thought that an illustrated book could be a really visual way to teach kids about the size and order of the planets, in particular through each planet being a different animal, and driver of the narrative.

What do you think is the most exciting thing about being a creative in Sydney today?

Sydney has a really close-knit creative community; it never feels competitive and I’ve always felt like we celebrate each others’ achievements and lift each other up, which is really nice.

A huge challenge of living and working here is cost of real-estate – the rental prices here can be extortionate, and as a full-time freelancer where your income fluctuates, that can be really scary!

What did you take away from Adobe MAX?

I attended as an influencer, so I guess my job is to be the ‘eyes on the ground’ and to share the experience with my creative audience.

The thing I liked the most about Adobe MAX was the people that we got to meet – I went to really good talks by Bonnie Siegler, Aaron Draplin, and Tad Carpenter. And then you had an opportunity to form connections with people who weren’t necessarily speaking, but in a similar stage of their career as you, with the same insecurities and challenges to face. I was hanging out with filmmakers, photographers, other illustrators/watercolourists.  I found it really cool to compare everything.

Coming from this conference, I’ve seen the importance of making – for ‘just making sake’ and not being so concerned if you’re being paid for it or not. I am very project driven and I will often book too many projects at once. A big goal for me in the future is to just have a play and push my ideas further and actually create projects for myself, because that’s when you learn things and that’s when you’re most creative!

Christmas is just around the corner, so it’s been a busy time for many creative freelancers. Have you been doing any holidays themed work, and how will you be spending the break?

I’ve actually just finished a Christmas Campaign with The Streets of Barangaroo, of which I’m really proud. I created the hero artwork for their catalogues, window decals for all their stores and three sets of wrapping paper. All the artwork is centred around ‘Leisure’ as a theme. It was important for me to create something inclusive that everyone can get on board with at this time of year.

I love the holiday season! My plans include getting my online store ready for next year, wrapping up this year’s projects, watching an obnoxious number of christmas movies, and eating lots and lots!

Keep up-to-date with Sha’an d’Anthes’ work on her blog Furry Little Peach.

Annie Portelli was a guest of Adobe for the Adobe MAX conference.