Meet Illustrator and Graphic Designer Mallory Heyer

We caught up with the New York-based creative to discuss her latest project with Absolut and her hopes and dreams for 2018.

How did you get into illustration?  

I’ve always drawn a lot. When I was little my mom got me an Aliki book, How a Book is Made, and when I got to the part about illustrators, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. In middle school and high school, I would make zines and distribute them. I started The Banana Club when I was 12, which was a newspaper with comics and news that had Banana characters. I had a following of people who subscribed and collected them. I later went to college to major in Graphic Design with a focus on Illustration.

What’s your process?

I always start with a lot of sketching to figure out my composition and framing of everything. Then I take multiple embarrassing reference photos of myself, to help me understand how to scale someone I imagine accurately. I often will cast some of my friends and capture their likeness in my drawings. After I flesh out my sketches, I add layers of highlights and colours digitally, the same way I would approach a more traditional painting.

Pop-culture influences a lot of your work, why do you think we’re so obsessed with celebrities?

Pop-culture really interests me because it’s such a ridiculous thing that unites us all. Whether you love it or hate it, most people have some vague understanding of the events that are going on in the popular world. It’s a way for people to comfortably gossip about the popular kids in high school, the high school that we are all in. It’s amusing to poke fun at celebrities because they are people that we know strangely well. I like drawing stars in a way where it feels like I’m making an inside joke with them, about some of the things they are known for.

Pop-culture really interests me because it’s such a ridiculous thing that unites us all.

Mallory Heyer

The art world is a challenging industry to crack, what advice would you give others looking to follow in your footsteps?

I feel like the traditional Art World is an animal that I do not quite get, but I feel like I understand the illustration world. One of the most important things is that you have to be okay with working on your craft for very long periods of times. I often spend my days working in-house with a company, and then all night drawing either personal work or new projects for clients. Even if I’m doing something completely unrelated to art, I’ll be thinking of ideas for new things to make in the background. 

You also have to get comfortable with putting your work out for the world to see. Whether it be wheat pasting your work onto walls or just putting it on social media. It’s also essential to stay friendly. Clients have told me that they have hired me over other equally talented people simply because I sounded friendlier over the phone. It also helps to make friends with people in the field, as it’s so easy to recommend someone you know for a project, and it’s great having other illustrators you can share advice with. 

What was the inspiration for your project with Absolut?

Absolut got in touch as they were already a fan of my work and felt it was the perfect fit for their latest Absolut Vanilla, Porn Star Martini project. I was tasked with bringing to life the many different ways people can enjoy a Porn Star Martini, of which there are quite a few! Each image celebrates a different way of drinking the cocktail, the sip or the squeeze, and the kind of person that might drink in that way. I wanted to focus in on speaking to the UK audience and draw what a cast of characters that someone might see when they are going out in London. I find a lot of inspiration from TV and film. Funny enough, even a scary movie will give me an idea of how I can express a more exciting angle or crop.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2018?

I plan to set up a shop to sell my artwork. I also have multiple zine ideas that I came up with during 2017 that I wasn’t able to find time to make. 2018 feels like a good year for that. Two of them have to do with ghosts, that I plan to release before October. I do not want to spoil the niches within ghost culture that I’m exploring in these zines, but keep an eye out for them!

Discover more of Mallory’s Work here and keep up to date with her projects via Instagram