One look at Beth Shindler’s illustrations and you’ll be hooked. An observational and witty illustrator, she uniquely captures the essence of life with her simplified colour palettes and distinct style. Here at Nice People, we were buzzing when she sent over her design for the cover of Issue 3 and you can see why. In her brilliant, seemingly effortless way, she has captured the epitome of being genuinely ‘nice’. We asked her about how she developed her style, who inspires her and what plans she has for the future.
Is art something you’ve always wanted to pursue?
Yes, although I must admit I wasn’t sure what form that would take, as I’m interested in so many different types of art. I remember growing up and begging to have drawing competitions or getting overly excited when we were asked to design a poster in class. I never pursued university as, for me, I felt it restricted my creativity and contradicted a lot of what I feel art is about: freedom of expression.
Your style is stunning and very unique. How did you develop your style?
Thank you very much! When I first started exploring my own styles I was obsessed with graffiti art and the way that the letters would flow. I thought it was the most powerful thing, (predictable, I know). This then influenced the way I draw people now. I love the idea of my work being translated onto a wall one day, or have the same free-flowing “wow” effect as I think graffiti art does. My aim is to bend the norms of the body, introduce fluidity and freedom of form.
Do any other artists inspire you?
Plenty! I love HEDOF – an illustrator & printmaker from the Netherlands. His colour palettes really inspire me and his giant wall murals are beautiful.
I love Jean Jullien – an illustrator from France. He sees art in absolutely everything! He’s definitely made me look at art in a different way and his art just brings a big smile to my face.
My absolute favourite at the moment is Gaurab Thakali. Again, for the use of colour and the way he incorporates shadow into his work, which is something I’d love to learn. I also absolutely adore the fact he works his illustrations around the Jazz musicians he loves. His skateboard work is sick too!
Does running Kanassa Kitchen inspire your creativity?
Absolutely. Having worked in street food for the past 3 years, I’ve developed other street food brands whilst working in the Kitchen.
Kanassa is a Colombian-inspired street food business that I’ve run with my sister Anna for the past year. Being so hands on in that aspect, I try to get across in my food illustrations the chaotic, madness of being in a kitchen.
I think working in the kitchen is an art form in itself. I would go as far as to say that working in that industry has lead me to be able to become self-employed due to the high number of contacts and understanding of the business. I also think illustration lends itself so well to my love of food as, essentially, I am able to merge two passions together.
Your colour palettes and design choices are genius. How do you decide on what colours to use?
Thank you very much! I tend to ensure that the people I draw do not have a specific race, which is why you find that all my illustrations use different colours for skin tones, like red, green and blue. Other than that, I’m still learning on that front!
What were your thoughts and concepts behind the cover you designed for us?
I actually had so many ideas for this cover design! I sat down and wrote out what I consider to be the epitome of being ‘nice’. Things like holding a door open for someone, making a brew or simply lending a hand. I think a super nice quality is when people don’t know they’re being nice and are not immediately expectant of others. I wanted a light-hearted, comical value to it to make people smile – which I hope I have achieved! I also felt the concept of flowers tied in nicely with your beautiful logo design.
How’s life as an independent artist?
Life is good! I think self-employed life really does become what you make it. Being an independent artist at essentially the bottom of the ladder can be testing at times but there’s no better feeling than seeing your art on the wall, shaping a brand or making people smile. Naturally, self-doubt is inevitable and everyday I want to progress and grow more but I think that’s what’s so good about it. You’re never stuck in one place, you’re never bored and things are always what you make them. You essentially create your path.
What advice would you give to other aspiring artists?
Just do you. Listen to yourself, explore all techniques and don’t get too stuck on one specific style too soon. I would also recommend contacting artists that you respect & love – you will be surprised by how many reply no matter how famous / busy they are!
Knowing your worth is also key. Being an artist is like being a football; kicked around by a bunch of strangers all day long but then sometimes you score. Being confident in your abilities & learning to say no so you’re not breaking your back is super important. You are the artist and they’re coming to you for a reason.
Do you have any plans for the near future?
My plans for now are just to keep developing my style, learning new techniques and working on small jobs whilst running my street food stall. I hope to do a few exhibitions soon too!
Do you have any ultimate pipe dreams?
Definitely. I’ve always wanted to do children’s books. The illustrations are so magical and I was always so captivated as a child. I must admit, if you ever catch me in a book shop, I will most likely be in the Children’s section (this is not a reflection on my ability to read… I promise).
Being a gay woman myself, my dream is to one day write a series of illustrated children’s books that break away from the heterosexual norm from a young age. I love the new feminist cards they have for children. I think it’s super important to let young girls know that they can be anything that they want to be. I also think it’s really sad how different sexualities are not represented in children’s books. I believe that changing this can promote higher levels of acceptance and prevent depression and stigma later on in life.
Interview by Meg Firth