Recent alumnus Joana Avillez (MFA 2012 Illustration as Visual Essay) hasn’t slowed down a bit since graduating from SVA. Aside from her various ongoing illustration projects, Avillez was recently picked to sketch the season two premiere of HBO’s Girls for Vogue magazine, and is currently illustrating an upcoming advice book by the show’s creator and star, Lena Dunham. SVA Close Up recently caught up with Avillez via email to talk about her work with Dunham, the challenges and triumphs of being an illustrator, and life after college.
How’s life been so far post-SVA? Is there anything you miss about being in school?
Post-SVA life has been really good work-wise, no doubt in thanks to the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program! I miss being able to get the advice/thoughts of my classmates so readily, and I also miss hearing Marshall Arisman‘s crazy stories.
How did you end up sketching the season two premiere of Girls? What was it like? Seems like it would be hard with people moving around so much…
It was really hard! I had to send the drawings to Vogue the same night, so whatever I got, I got. The paparazzi on the red carpet were especially interested in me, they kept asking what I was doing. I couldn’t have done it without the drawing class taught by Carol Fabricatore at SVA. We spent a year wandering around the city, drawing everywhere from crowded terminals to backstage at the Met Opera house. She taught me a lot.
Can you tell us about the work you’re doing for Lena Dunham’s forthcoming advice book?
I’m very excited about it! Lena truly loves illustration—her tattoos are all drawings by Hilary Knight (Eloise) and Robert Lawson (Ferdinand the Bull) so it’s a really fun project—drawing is important to her. So far, Lena sends me essays and pieces of writing and I send her drawings riffed off and inspired by text. We go back and forth.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a book of drawings of annotated fashion characters (that I originally did for Refinery29), with a publisher in London. I’m also doing more live-drawing, like the Girls premiere, for different magazines and companies. I’m thrilled to be able to do that; it’s a different way of drawing and it’s a nice counter to being alone in the studio. And illustration!
What is the hardest part about being an illustrator? What’s the best?
Since I work from home, the hardest part is knowing when to stop working and clock-out. And also remembering to go outside and take a walk so I don’t get stir-crazy. The best part about being an illustrator is that I am able to put my imagination to work.
Any advice for current SVA students?
Work hard and have fun.
See more of Avillez’s work on her website.
BFA AnimationAnimated 'Mirage' by SVA Alumni Featured on io9
BFA Film and VideoExhibition by SVA’s Ralph Toporoff Captures Visconti’s ‘The Leopard’
MFA Illustration as Visual EssaySVA Subway Art, from New York City to Cyprus
MFA Computer Art & MFA Social Documentary FilmSVA Student Academy Award Winners Honored in Los Angeles
MFA Fine ArtsSVA Alumnus Kevin Sudeith Featured in The New York Times
MFA Illustration as Visual EssaySVA’s ‘Underground Images’ on View in Slovenia
MFA Illustration as Visual EssayJoana Avillez Sketches Artforum's Knight Landesman for The New Yorker
BFA PhotographySVA Alumnus Ilona Szwarc Wins Emerging Photographer Honor
BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation & Visual EffectsSVA Alumnus Sari Rodrig on Animating Emotion and Winning at Cannes
MFA Visual NarrativeSVA's Nathan Fox Illustrates MLB Ghost Stories for ESPN Magazine
Visual Arts GalleryIntroducing SVA Masters Series Laureate R.O. Blechman
MFA Social Documentary FilmQ&A with SVA Alumnus Pete Vandall, Creator of ‘Chasing Tail’
BFA Fine Arts & BFA Visual & Critical StudiesSVA’s Steve DeFrank Awarded Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foun...
BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation & Visual EffectsSVA’s John McIntosh and Alumni at Upcoming Collider Conference
MFA Social Documentary FilmSVA Alumnus Mark Kendall's 'La Camioneta' Featured on Indiewire
BFA PhotographySVA Alumnus Ilona Szwarc Featured in London 'Telegraph Magazine'
MFA Interaction Design & MFA Products of DesignPedaling Ideas: SVA Projects Augment NYC Bike Share Program
BFA PhotographyIssue 13 of ‘Dear Dave,’ Magazine
MFA Design & MFA Products of DesignMilton Glaser and MFA Products of Design Students in NY Times
MFA Computer ArtVideo: SVA Alumnus Dustin Grella's 'Ode to Bike Sharing' on NY Times
MFA Interaction Design & BFA DesignSVA’s Jake Barton and Paula Scher Win National Design Awards
MFA Illustration as Visual EssayMarina Abramovic Shares Portrait by SVA Student Chemin Hsiao
MFA Interaction DesignSVA Student Featured in 'Wired' for Kleiner Perkins Design Fellowship
BFA AdvertisingSVA Students Sweep 2013 One Show Young Ones College Competition
MFA Computer Art & MFA Social Documentary FilmSVA Alumni Rachel Loube and John Mattiuzzi Win Student Academy Awards
BFA Film and VideoInterview with SVA Alumnus Marianne Vitale on Artspace
MFA Illustration as Visual EssayPost Grad Life Illustrated: SVA Alumni Launch Brushwick Studio
MFA Design; BFA Design; and BFA AdvertisingQ&A with SVA's Gail Anderson in 'Design Week'
BFA PhotographyPhotos by SVA Alumnus Ilona Szwarc on Time.com
MFA Interaction DesignLiz Danzico and MFA Interaction Design Students Featured in 'Autoweek'
BFA Film and Video & BFA AnimationSVA’s 2013 Dusty Film and Animation Festival Award Winners
MFA DesignDigital Arts Interviews SVA's Jessica Walsh
MFA Illustration as Visual EssaySVA Alumnus Joana Avillez Illustrates 2013 Met Gala for 'Vogue'
MFA Photography, Video and Related MediaSVA Alumnus Pacifico Silano Finalist for 2013 Aperture Portfolio Prize
MFA Interaction DesignThe Art of Instagram: An Interview with the Creators of Coastermatic
MFA Computer ArtAnimation Video by SVA Student Daniel Sierra Featured on Gizmodo
MFA Products of Design & MFA Interaction DesignSVA Students Featured in 'Fast Company' for Nautilus Bowl
BFA CartooningSpring 2013 Issue of SVA's 'Ink' Now Available
MFA Visual NarrativeSVA’s Leonard S. Marcus Moderates Talk for ‘Picture This!’ Series
MFA Photography, Video and Related MediaSVA Alumnus Ilana Rein's Film on 'Battlestar Galactica' Fandom Cove...
BFA CartooningSVA Alumnus Gerard Way Featured in 'USA Today'
BFA Film and VideoSVA Dustys 2013: Q&A with the Director of ‘Animosity’
BFA PhotographyPhotos by SVA's Sid Kaplan Featured in 'The New York Times'
SVA PortfoliosSVA Portfolios: Five Most Discussed Projects of April 2013
MFA 2012 Computer Art; MFA Social Documentary Film; and BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual EffectsSVA Leads 40th Annual Student Academy Awards Finalists
MFA Photography, Video and Related MediaSVA's Charles Traub on Ulysses S. Grant for 'The New York Times'
SVA Career DevelopmentCareer Opportunities: Pixar Visits SVA
BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual EffectsVimeo Staff Pick: 'Stranded' by SVA Students Donia Liechti and Vick...
BFA Film and Video & BFA DesignPSA Created by SVA Students Airing on ‘The Suze Orman Show’
MPS Fashion PhotographyPhotos by SVA Student Richard Gerst Featured on GQ
MFA Illustration as Visual EssaySVA Student Andrea Tsurumi Wins MoCCA Award for Excellence