Iva Mikles is a multi-hyphenate professional. As an artist, illustrator, founder of the Art Side of Life Podcast and YouTube channel, and of course, a teacher, she’s always loved creating something that brightens the lives of others. She brings years of experience in the toy industry and the art industry to her creative discipline, which spans illustration, character ensign, art direction, and branding – with a focus on storytelling and animation.
Based in Central Europe, Iva’s artistic style is influenced by the beautiful nature she finds around her. She draws outside as much as possible. We sat down with Iva to discuss inspiration, her creative style, and what’s next for the multi-talented artist.
Where do you go for inspiration?
First and foremost I try to keep an open mind and “can do”, positive attitude toward new things, and learning new skills. I try to refresh my creative self regularly by being open to different experiences, visiting new places, talking with various people, watching different movies, and trying new games. And this is where my inspiration comes from – experiencing different cultures, traveling to new places, trips to nature, visiting cute and quirky cafes, noticing decorations on the old buildings, and seeing colorful animals.
Can you share how the idea of the Art Side of Life came to you?
I love to discuss and learn about daily life and creative careers with my artistic friends with various backgrounds and stories. Because I also love listening to podcasts and watching YouTube videos with inspirational people, I thought about connecting the two so others could learn and get inspired, too.
I did some research and discovered there is not much content created about and for artists, so I decided to create a place that would allow people around the world to have access to stories, tips, ideas, and concepts of accomplished artists. A place where we inspire each other, learn from each other, and improve every day together.
I started to plan, contacted the first artists, recorded, learned how to edit, and the first episodes came to life.
How do you determine a color palette for your piece?
First I consider the context or purpose of the piece and if it is personal or client work.
For my personal work, I take a lot of inspiration from nature, and then I usually do various color thumbnails before I decide on the final combination. I tend to gravitate to earthy color palettes, but from time to time I really want to create a very bright and colorful piece.
If it is a client work I work with their style guide and the target group. For example, is it targeted to kids or adults with specific lifestyles? Should it be happy and bright or maybe melancholic, or with a very specific color palette following the style guide of the company?
How did you cultivate your own creative style?
I want to create art that makes people feel good and hopefully puts a smile on their faces, while they remember moments from their life.
I also believe that creative style and our design choices are connected with our background, our family, and our experiences, like movies we watch, the books we read, our likes, and dislikes.
You can see a lot of nature represented in my art. When I was growing up, we went on a lot of adventures in new places, and I remember those moments, being surrounded by nature, animals, plants, and colorful flowers. I loved these little adventures. What is more, my grandma used to draw beautiful folk ornaments and I loved to watch her draw trying to recreate these florals with lots of swirly details. I also like to incorporate these decorative elements into my art.
When was the first time you remember seeing an illustration or design that spoke to you? And when was the most recent time?
The first time was a long time ago, when I was a kid, and I don’t exactly know where it was. I saw this huge colorful mural with organic shapes full of wonky houses and animals and I thought how cool it would be to visit that place.
In regards to the latest inspiration, it’s not an illustration or design per se. I have seen this very cool Instagram account where a UPS driver from New Orleans, Louisiana shares photos of colorful houses, super cute pups, and an all-in-all positive outlook on life. I find it so cool when people from all walks of life share their creative way of living. It brings out a lot of inspiration for me.
Has your art changed at all during a lockdown?
I don’t think the art or how I draw has changed but I noticed that I am drawn to more travel-related illustration. I try to at least visit places through my art because we have to spend the majority of our time indoors.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on new courses that I am super excited about. With a mission to help artists, both accomplished and aspiring, to improve their art skills and make a living from what makes them happy. I can’t wait to share the new content with everyone!
Which place has been the easiest for you to recreate? Which has been the most challenging?
Very interesting question. I think the easiest is to create places that are very familiar to me. Places I feel at home, or I have visited many times. I can remember all the details, props, buildings, colors, how the place looks like during different times of the day, seasons, and what feeling I would like to communicate through that piece.
The most challenging would be the busy places with a lot of stuff happening, a lot of colors, lots of people, nature, and details. The challenge I work within such pieces is to know when to stop adding more details. I think that, as artists, we need to make design choices and simplify, and bring forward what we find the most interesting or important for the audience. I find it quite important to also leave things out, not only what we add to the artworks.
It took me quite a long time to figure out how I would like to simplify nature with all those leaves, shadows, and colors! Nature is so versatile, and it’s so easy to get lost among the details.
Where can we follow you?
Explore Iva Mikles’ Staff Pick
Composition for Digital Illustrators: 10 Tips in Procreate