Artist Spotlight - Donya Todd
Creating magical worlds full of fierce women and spooky vibes, Donya's otherworldly illustration evokes a lot of feelings in all of us...
We've known Donya for a good few years now, after meeting at a CBSP event back in 2012 and we've been die-hard fans ever since. Her unique character design and her way of communicating feelings in such a pleasing visual way is something that draws us to her work, and keeps us there.
We especially love the characters Donya creates, if it's not cute animals it's badass woman and we love them. The scenes she creates are so imaginative and interesting, we could look at them forever...
Donya also makes comics, and her book Death And The Girls is absolutely fantastic, we highly recommend it!
So what's she made for us?
We knew we wanted Donya to create something to showcase her brilliant scenery and worlds, so it had to be something large, that we could hang up and give pride of place in our homes/studio, so we thought... Tea Towel! Well, it's technically a tea-twel but we are 100% hanging it up as a beautiful wall hanging.
It's either the NICEST tea towel you've ever seen, or a beautiful wall hanging, the choice is up to you!
Find Donya's product here
So onto the questions!
This is tough! So much ghost love in my heart but top spot has to be Beetlejuice – a
charismatic git who haunts the recently deceased, wants to marry goth teens and rides
sandworms around the underwold. Special mentions to Corpse Bride & Thirteen ghosts.
2) What's the best item in your pencil case?
A Pentel Brush pen. So good for absolutely everything. Plus a mechanical pencil.
Pencil, then ink or watercolour paints. Love working with these materials. I wish I could
draw digitally because scanning is the worst but have never gotten to grips with replicating
hand drawn lines with a tablet (it’s actually impossible???) Although I have learnt how to
‘paint’ digitally in a way that I like, I don’t think I’ll ever give up on traditional media, it’s too
4) What's your go-to motivational album?
Toxicity System of a down, Powerslave Iron Maiden, A kind of magic Queen & Bat out
of hell Meatloaf. Rock and roll gets my blood pumping baby.
5) How would you describe your work? Are there any common themes?
Common themes are death, sex, god, emotional landscapes and the otherworldly.
Everything you see is an internal narrative made fictional. Art is how I work through
problems, secrets & silly ideas. If I had to boil it down I would describe my work as magic – moving mountains, going on adventures, falling in love. Because I can.
6) What’s your proudest piece that you've worked on?
My graphic novel Death and the Girls with Blankslatebooks. It was my first book and I
remember how excited I was, and how hard I worked on it. Right now I’m studying a masters and have just finished an illustrated poetry book, Taking Shape which I’m really excited about! It’s that same feeling. Seeing the two together I can see how far I’ve come, but also how it’s still the same themes and style. Everything is a refining process. It takes a long time.
7) Do you have any/many artist rituals?
My drawing process is pretty ritualistic / meditative. I don’t think or plan too much
when making an image – it’s almost like a trance state. To get to this I need a quiet, clean and calm environment. I’ll quite often have a movie playing in the background, but it has to be one that I’ve seen a thousand times so it’s not distracting. My go to movies are Little shop of Horrors, The last unicorn, Rocky Horror & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
8) What motivates you?
Every new book gives me such a buzz. A step forward with technique, a style change,
and advancement in thinking. I love having a finished thing and seeing how far I’ve come
since the last thing. Also, doing things like this artist spotlight and getting the boost of
knowing that people want to see my work - who seem to like what I do helps to push on to
the next big project.
9) What do you do, that you think no one else does whilst working?
I drive around a lot. I commute to my course in Falmouth, and am a pizza delivery girl
in the evening so I have a lot of thinking time. I put on some fast paced music and animate
stories in my head. Right now I’m into a huge battle. A pig princess fights the giant bird army she’s in love with to the death. Flowers turn into mountains, asteroids and lava to drown the planet in fire. A woman chases a villain on horseback across huge sweeping plains that are perilous and cosmic and changing. I don’t know if other people do this? Do other artists spend extended periods of time spaced out fantasizing about battles and other exciting things? I expect so, but only I can see what I see. So if you ever catch me spacing out you know where I am haha!
9) Who are you inspired by?
So many awesome things are inspiring me at the moment. Rick and Morty, Bruce
Bickford, the strange sci-fi world of speculative poetry, terrible (addictive) anime, and comics. Specifically I’m loving Ralphie and Jeanie by Alabaster Pizzo, Naked Lunch by William Burroughs and textbooks on the meteorology of sailing in stormy weather. Generally though it’s my friends and family who inspire through their grit and talent and unyielding support and love.
10) What's your favourite way to practice self care? (Especially after a busy week!)
I get as much sleep as I need. If that means laying in bed till noon with my kitten then
that’s cool. Working on something I’m excited about. If I’m not excited about it, what’s the
point? Don’t do it man. I might go to the gym, or the beach if I’m bored - but mostly I’ll be
the lazy slug I was born to be all the good day long. Play a game, or read a book and/or
watch movies. I like nothing more than hanging out with my little family in the evening,
drinking something boozy, watching something crap. Perfect.