Get to know our friend Bonnie Brown
Wellington-based artist and illustrator Bonnie has a preference for using bright colours and bold shapes to communicate joy, nostalgia and fun. Since founding Studio Bon in 2018, Bonnie has worked with a number of global brands on everything from advertising campaigns to magazine covers and limited-edition packaging. Inspired by beauty, fashion, art and architecture, her illustrations are instantly recognisable, and her work is in high demand from clients around the world.
What is your artistic background?
I’m a self taught artist/illustrator. I studied Architecture at Victoria University and also completed a Graduate Diploma in Communication Design at Massey University. Since around 2017 I’ve been illustrating for brands and businesses both in Aotearoa and globally.
Where do you call home?
Wellington, New Zealand
Where else in New Zealand have you lived?
I was born and raised in Queenstown until my family and I moved to Nelson when I was 16. I’ve also lived in both Rotorua, and Orepuki for short stints as a child, and Auckland for a brief period during an internship. I’ve definitely covered both ends of the country now.
When did you start doing your art?
I’ve always been creative and was brought up in a super artistic household so it's hard to say when I started but it wasn’t until 2017 that I started to take art seriously as a career.
When did you start your entrepreneur journey?
When I finished studying architecture and was working in a firm in 2016/17 I began my entrepreneurial journey – completely unintentionally to begin with. I was feeling very creatively unfulfilled at my 9-5 so I started to draw again in my free time and share my work on instagram, this led to my first major work with a brand and the start of realising I could make a career of this.
How do you describe your artwork style?
I think it’s ever evolving but currently fun, a bit nostalgic, bold and colourful.
Have you always stayed in your field of art or were there other types of art that you have tried and tested?
My initial style of art was very different to where I am now! I started out with a lot of pencil sketches and very subtle use of colour. Now my work is predominantly created digitally and I use as much colour as I can. I’m also exploring a few new mediums like screen printing, painting and tufting.
What is your ideal environment when creating your artwork?
Because I work mostly by myself at home I’m constantly listening to podcasts for background noise. I also try to get out of the house and work from cafes a couple of times a week.
Who is your hero?
A cheesy answer but definitely my mum! She raised my siblings and I herself halfway across the world from her family and always brought us up in a warm, loving and creative household.
What values are important to you?
That's a tricky question! More than anything I just hope to be a kind and giving person to everyone I meet.
Any advice for aspiring NZ artists?
To just keep creating new work! I’ve definitely found my strongest work comes from self driven projects which has then led to really fun collaborations with like minded brands. Another more pragmatic piece of advice would be don’t feel like you need to dive into working for yourself full-time initially. There’s a lot less stress when you have a steady weekly pay or you're working part-time until you’re in a position to take your work full-time.
What was the inspo behind your artwork for your PieceHouse puzzle?
I wanted to create something really vibrant and fun, a little slice of summer holidays and a piece that would look as good as a puzzle as it would framed as art. It was also winter when I was creating this piece so I think I was dreaming of being on a beach somewhere.
Check out Bonnie's artwork which features on the Oasis Found Puzzle here