Ep.26: How to be resourceful artist with Djamila Knopf

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Oct 10, 2017 •  Interviews

Djamila is a Leipzig-based professional illustrator. Her drawing style is heavily influenced by Japanese animation and artists such as Iain McCaig, Tran Nguyen, and Amei Zhao. She enjoys anything mythical and fantastical.

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She illustrates surreal and dreamlike imagery with a fragile and delicate quality to it. Her imaginary worlds are filled with simultaneous brightness and darkness, where ghosts and spirits linger in the shadows. She seeks to capture a single moment, quiet and frozen in time while using the human form as a means to explore and portray abstract concepts from her mind’s landscape as well as symbolism to communicate and establish a connection through her artwork.

Djamila mainly works digitally, but also has an ongoing series of small ink drawings.

Ep.196: What’s new with Djamila Knopf

Get in touch with Djamila

Key Takeaways

“Do whatever feels good to you, do what you like, what feels natural to you. Find out who you are, what inspires you and follow through. Be yourself and you will be fine.” 🙂

Resources mentioned

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Special thanks to Djamila for joining me today. See you next time!

All artworks by Djamila Knopf, used with permission

Episode Transcript

Announcer  

Creative, artistic, happy! That’s you. There are endless possibilities for living a creative life. So let’s inspire each other. Art Side of Life interviews with Iva.

Iva Mikles  

Hello, everyone and welcome to the next episode of Art Side of Life where it’s all about how you can turn your creative passion into a profession. My name is Iva, and my guest today is an amazing illustrator from Leipzig, Germany. She enjoys creating characters surreal and dreamlike imaginary with fragile and delicate quality to it. She uses the human form as a means to explore and portray abstract concepts as well as symbolism to communicate and establish a connection through her artwork. Her drawing style is heavily influenced by Japanese animation, and she enjoys anything mythical and fantastical. She mainly works digitally, but also has an ongoing series of ink drawings that she’s selling through an online store. You can find all her new artworks mainly through Instagram, where she’s inspiring her fans have more than 80,000 followers. So please welcome Djamila Knopf. And let’s get to the interview. So hello, and welcome everyone to the next episode of Art Side of Life. And I’m super happy to welcome here, Djamila.

Djamila Knopf  

Hi, thanks for having me.

Iva Mikles  

Hi. I’m super happy to have you here. And I would like to start with your background and how you got to art. And maybe you can tell us like this maybe short story or like biggest turning points how you got to art.

Djamila Knopf  

All right, um, let’s see, I’ve been always one of those kids who used to draw like, always, especially when I watched Sailor Moon when I was a little kid, I was like five and I was drawing the characters all the time, I was obsessed with that. And then I kept doing that. And I got into school, and I still do everything I felt like and then I had those teachers who were like, Hmm, should really draw something else, you should draw something really like Not this kind of animate stuff. And that was like, a little bit discouraged. But I kept going. And then there was a point when I was I think 1617 I was a teenager, and I was too cool for anything. Just I just stopped drawing anime stuff because I thought it was not proper art, or whatever. And that was kind of bad for my drawing. career. I don’t know, I had a big gap between and I picked it up again, when I was 19 or II, I just started college. And I got into this whole digital art thing that was developing online, it was really big, like concept art and book cover illustration, all kinds of this stuff. I tried doing things with Photoshop, but I wasn’t really good at it in the beginning and I, um, but I just kept going, I looked at tutorials, all these things, I bought books, I tried it again and again and again until I got a little bit better. And I started sharing my work on Deviant Art in 2009 or 2010, like most people do. And then slowly I started getting better and gathering a little following around me and I was more encouraged to keep going. But I think it was just three years later, four years later, when I got my first jobs I got like private commissions for book covers that people had written. They were like, I have this book. Can you illustrate the cover? And I was like, Yeah, I can write. And I did that. But in 2015 I finished my college degree. We’re not I haven’t really finished the degree but I think I’ll get to that later. I studied to become a teacher in Germany, you have a specific program to go through when you want to become a teacher. So I figured when I was in school, what do I want to do being an artist may not be an option. So I do the next best thing which is teaching art. So I wanted to become an art and English teacher at school. I did that and while I was studying I was just developing my skills learning trying things out and when I was finished with my masters, all all the modules for my master’s degree I started working full time and that was 2015 but to this date, I still have gotten my degree, because I stayed enrolled because I wanted to stay a student because there are advantages that come with being a student. And so I postponed my master’s thesis, and I finished that thing. In June, like last month, I sat down for two months, I read the whole, I wrote the whole thing. And now maybe in September or October, I will finally graduate from college. Although I’m working as an illustrator since 2015.

Iva Mikles  

That’s nice. Actually. That’s a good idea. So you are now freelance full time, right? Illustrator?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, I don’t know what to call myself. It’s kind of weird because there was a transition. There was this transitional period I went through at the end of 2016 to 2017. I had taken jobs and freelance, I had done book covers and character illustrations for games, trading card games, pen and paper stuff. And then I felt kind of bad. I was like, Is this really what I want to do? I don’t know. I saw this I follow this podcast, which is really great. It’s two guys. Pete more Bakker and Sam Fleagle. Talking about art business stuff, their podcast is called One fantastic week. And I’ve learned so much from them. And they always talk about, do your own stuff, sell it, sell prints of it, sell originals, find an audience for yourself, you don’t have to work for companies to make it as an artist. And I was so inspired by that. And I was at this point where I was just taking jobs and jobs and jobs. And I didn’t have any time for the things that I wanted to draw. So I just tried it. I researched how to open a store and how to make prints how to sell them all this kind of stuff. And I just tried it at the end of 2016. I was like, Yeah, I don’t have anything to lose. I’m just going to do it. And it kind of worked. People bought my stuff. And since then, I’ve just been producing prints and little originals that I’m selling. And now i i don’t know I’m not really a freelancer anymore. I guess I’m just an illustrator, fine artists, independent artists. I don’t know.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So so how does it work? Now? I mean, like your life now with the income. So how do you combine your income stream? Is it mostly from the selling art prints? Or do you have like, different you know, like, legs off the table?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, it’s actually mostly just selling prints and originals. And I also have a Patreon page, which brings in a little bit of income, but mostly to selling prints and originals. And I want to expand that right now. It’s, I can live above it, it’s fine, but it’s not something i don’t know i moving on to the future, I want to have a little bit of more money. Because I’ve been a student for so long. I’m used to kind of minimal lifestyle, I don’t need much, but would be nice to have a little bit more. So um, maybe in the future, I want to get my work into galleries. So a little bit bigger originals. I’m trying stuff with acrylic right now. So yeah, there’s lots of stuff that I want to do. And right now, it’s just the starting point. I feel like I’m glad that it’s working. And I’m glad that I have the follower base to support it. Because when I, if I would have started this thing, let’s say three years ago, I think it wouldn’t have worked because I wouldn’t have had the reach from Instagram, and all those things that I’m posting on now. So you have to have the right time and the right product, I guess and then it can work. So building on that

Iva Mikles  

and then to share with the young artists when you open your online store is it like society six store and we are what what is your recommendation like for young people where to do the online store?

Djamila Knopf  

Oh, man, it’s always hard to give recommendations because I think it always depends on Yeah, it always depends on what you want, who you are, how much time you have. I did the society six thing and in print. In the past, it was nice to have just a little bit of extra income. Come in like every few months, I sold one print or something. And you can really live off of that. But then I started researching other artists who are being very successful at the whole print thing. For example, Kelly mckernon. She has a store envy store and also Audra Eau Claire. And I looked at their stuff and I thought oh this platform looks nice. They are doing everything themselves. They’re printing the stuff, they’re packaging it, shipping it. And in the end, that’s more work. But that’s also all the profit going to you. And it’s more personal, you can sign the prints and get them to your audience, you can release limited editions of them, which you can’t really do on society six or in print. So I guess if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, want a little bit of extra money, go for those sites to do everything for you. But if you really want to make this your main source of income, try one of those stores where you can do everything like I think, if you use Squarespace as your website, you also have the option to have a store right there. Or other things like store and the Etsy, Big Cartel, whatever, you have a lot of options for that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because then How How did you choose then the store and we compared to then Etsy and the Big Cartel? What is the what is your why do you like that one?

Djamila Knopf  

Um, I don’t know. I think on Etsy, they, they charge money for just listing things, even if you don’t sell them. And on store and B, it’s all free. They have this thing called a storefront, which is just your store page, you link it, and then people can go there. But they also have this thing called the marketplace, where you pay a monthly fee to have your work displayed on their main website so that people can look for your name and find you through there. But other than that, it’s free. And I also liked the layout, they have this thing where when you click on a product, and you have a limited number, you have those kind of bars that show you how much of that is left. And I thought that was a kind of nice visual, little thing. And yeah, the artists I was researching like Kelly mckernon and Audra Auclair. They were both using store and visa. I thought, why not? Try it? Like it’s so far. Yeah. But I stopped I, for two months, I had my work. I had my store displayed in the marketplace. And I noticed that when people were coming from my Instagram account, or somewhere, they saw something they wanted to buy. They were still going through the marketplace. So they typed in my name and found me through there. And then I had to give a cut to store envy. Because from their point of view, people found me through their site, but they really didn’t, they just went that way. So now I stopped posting my stuff there. And I just give the direct link and people go there. And it’s working.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. So people if you want art print go directly. So let’s talk about your branding and the vision or life style kind of thing, what you’re putting in the drawings. What is your kind of positioning on the market? If you can describe your drawings, maybe what is the main inspiration, which goes to the drawing and what they are trying to communicate?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, that’s a tough one, too, because I’m actually still working on that. I yeah, I just started working on my personal stuff at the beginning of the year, or at the end of last year. So I’m not 100% clear about what I want or where I’m going. But the things I do, I think, mostly anime inspired, because I’ve been watching so much of that stuff when I was a child. And it’s also a kind of fantasy ish, but I am not. I don’t stick to the kind of fantasy tropes that people expect, like, I don’t know dwarves and elves and whatever, that’s cool. But to me, fantasy is actually more it’s everything that goes beyond what you can see in your everyday life, or sometimes combining things that are ordinary and making them kind of magical in that way. So I always want to draw something that could be out of a dream, or Yeah, like, dreamlike imagery is what I like. And also, I enjoy exploring concepts that are kind of abstract like feelings or the concept of, I don’t know, loneliness or whatever, how you can put that into an image what that could look like. Now, I’ve always tried to do that. So I’m also working on a Tarot set. Right now I just have two cards finished. It’s not a lot. There were so many cards that I have to get to all of them but that’s what I really liked about the Tarot deck. You have those abstract concepts like fear or boldness or creativity and all those things like how can you put that into an image? That’s my challenge, and that’s what I want to do.

Iva Mikles  

And you’re creating these artworks digitally or inking or acrylics, or what is your view? Do you have a favorite

Djamila Knopf  

well over the place right now, I still love digital, I do all my sketches digitally. If you look at my Instagram account or whatever, I sometimes share the preliminary sketches for my ink work. I just do them on Photoshop, because it’s so convenient. You can flip it, you can cut it out and paste it and everything. And then I print it out. And then I transfer it onto paper and I go with ink and Copic markers on top. So that’s one thing that’s a little ink series I’ve been doing. And

Iva Mikles  

how do you transfer it to the paper to explain, then someone who’s never done that is like, Oh, just transfer it. So

Djamila Knopf  

yeah, it’s it’s really bad. I’ve kind of just print it out, and tape it to my window and take a pencil and transfer it I if I was if I had more money, I’d buy a light box. That would be nice. But other than that, I started doing those in winter drawings and the sun goes down at five. I always had a deadline to to finish my drawing before five every day. Because other than that, I wouldn’t have the light to transfer.

Iva Mikles  

But that’s perfect. I mean, because then people always have excuses. You know, I cannot do this because I cannot have the light books or whatever. So we know

Djamila Knopf  

that’s been winter creates your deadlines for you. Yeah, but um, that’s one thing. And I also work digitally just in Photoshop coloring that that’s nice for trying out different color palettes, you can always change it around. I can miss that when I’m doing traditional work. But I really want to have an original in the end that I can hold my hand and sell and all those kinds of things. Yeah,

Iva Mikles  

definitely. Yeah, that’s really nice. And then from traditional paints, do you have like a favorite brand or something? You know, like you really love?

Djamila Knopf  

No, man. Um, yeah, as I said, I’m working, or did I say that? I don’t know. I’m exploring acrylic paint right now. And I use it like watercolor, I just water it down a lot. I use Shingu acrylic paints. They’re nice, I think. And I like that kind of technique. Because when you use regular watercolor, you you paint something and then you go over it with water again, and kind of some of the pigment that’s on the page gets lifted up again, and it does things that you maybe you’re not expecting and I like planning stuff a lot. I mean, watercolors probably not the best medium for planning, but I kind of like the random effects you get. But once I have those effects, I want them to stay there. And when I use acrylic, I can just go on top again and again and again. And it doesn’t destroy my previous layer that I have. And there’s one artist that I really really like I am always butchering her name Tron yen I don’t know if she’s Yeah, she’s a Vietnamese and her name is My name is John I think almost things so you can find her there without trying to pronounce

Iva Mikles  

put it in the show notes afterwards so people can check it out also within the yeah

Djamila Knopf  

yeah, she’s awesome. She does those surreal dream like paintings with large women and small houses and landscapes and it’s kind of Yeah, do you know how to pronounce her name oversee of bad. Yeah. And she’s also using water down acrylics and colored pencils. So that’s that’s been an inspiration for me. I want to try that up.

Iva Mikles  

And then like the paper do you have like a specific paper you also use all you just do them sketchbook or something? Maybe people can try out

Djamila Knopf  

if I’ve just used this once, but I still I like it a lot. I bought this hot pressed watercolour paper. It’s called Kenson Malone to Roy or something like that. Yeah, and it’s really, really smooth and it also takes the water kind of well. I read on Amazon that it’s not very good if you’re using watercolor because it lifts up so much when you put down a layer and you go above it again. Everything gets destroyed that you’ve done before. But since I’m using it for like paints, that’s no issue, because it’s waterproof it stays there. So I can recommend it for acrylic and ink work. And for the ink drawings I’m doing I’m just using Hana moolah. No style e paper. It’s kind of off white, and it’s slick and it it works. Well. It doesn’t wrinkle that much.

Iva Mikles  

That’s when I haven’t tried. I tried canceling. But the other one I haven’t tried yet. Yeah. And that’s what I wanted to ask it. Is there something you wish you knew before you started the whole art career?

Djamila Knopf  

No, I, the thing is, I knew a lot of things. But I never really took them to heart. People were telling me all the things like especially draw what you love. That’s the thing you always hear. But it takes a while to sink in it just until you really make your own experiences and find out what that really means. Until then it’s just, it’s so hard to follow. I’ve gotten so much good advice that I just that I’m just now figuring out was very worthwhile and very good advice. So I wish somebody had told me that I should focus more on drawing than painting, I guess, because I tried painting a lot. Especially digitally, you always see those people that are really, really good at painting, especially those landscape artists, they started their images with just shapes, just a blob of color here. And that was sorry. That was my phone. And then they go from there. And it just builds up all this detail. And I tried that so many times that it never ever worked for me, I don’t know. And then at some point, I saw an interview of a girl and she was talking about her experience. And she said, I just noticed I am not good at painting. And I don’t like painting, I like drawing. And that changed everything. That changed a lot for me. So the advice I always give is not do what others tell you so much. Just take it with a grain of salt and try to figure out if it applies to you, you can be really great at White advice for someone, but bad advice for another person. So know who you are, know what you like, know what your preferences are, and try to follow that. So yeah, because maybe

Iva Mikles  

it’s good for young people, when they’re just starting out that they try like drawing a line work line work, then the painting then tried to show so you can actually get the feel of what you don’t like. And then you start figuring out what you do like,

Djamila Knopf  

yeah, that’s always the best way to try to figure out what you like, what you don’t like. And then from there, you know, you can narrow down what you want to do. And in the beginning, maybe when you’ve settled on something, try to keep it simple. Try to just explore that and then branch out from there. Don’t try to what’s the word?

Iva Mikles  

Maybe we don’t try

Djamila Knopf  

to take on too much at the same time. I know there’s a better word for it, but I can’t think of it. Yeah, yeah. But that

Iva Mikles  

makes sense. And so we talked about like, the good and bad advice as well. Did you have like a mentor or someone kind of who inspired you when you were like learning someone who was there with you? Or it was mostly the online people you kind of got inspired by?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, it was mostly online. I don’t have a lot of art friends, I have a lot of friends who do music and all kinds of things. But in real life, I don’t connect much to artists, which I kind of like it’s something different. But I didn’t have a mentor. Unfortunately, I’ve had just lots and lots of people online that I’ve been looking up to. And there’s some YouTube channels that helped me a lot people who are doing tutorials like for example Cycra. To know, yeah, he did so many tutorials. And I watched them all the time. And I learned so much from him. So I’m really thankful to him that he’s putting out that content. It’s really amazing. And yeah, also, as I said, the two guys from one fantastic week, they probably don’t know how much they’ve helped me and how much they mean to me were there. So when everything but that’s really the thing that kept me going and that inspired me to do all that.

Iva Mikles  

That’s super cool. And so now when you are creating your own artworks, and before you were freelancing for the clients, how do you design your your day or week or how do you plan ahead and maybe you can compare how Was it then and how is it now?

Djamila Knopf  

My week I’m thinking about it, I’m working way too much. I, I noticed that in the past, I always thought I’m so lazy, I need to work more. But now I noticed no need to take some time off, I take one day off every week. It’s usually usually Thursdays I go to, I do bouldering like rock climbing. So I do that once a week. And then the day I’m just totally exhausted, and I can’t do anything else. But other than that, I’d say, I get up at eight in the morning, make breakfast get ready. Then I sit down at my desk at 10 or 11. And then I start working, have a little lunch break and depends on how much I want to do that day I sit until or stand. I have standing desk now. I work until 1011 At night, sometimes, but sometimes I’m finished at 6am I go out and meet some friends. But it’s usually a full work day, six days a week. And for planning, I always make these weird kind of lists. I don’t know I have one year. I have my month. There are cool, you can see it. It’s like Monday, Tuesday, blah, and then I put down a little square of and write down what I want to do that day. And then when that day is over, I just cross it off. And the circles are the days I’m taking off. So I’m a very visual person, I always need this kind of visualization of what I’m going to do the next month. So I just think okay, I have this illustration to do. The research is probably going to take me half a day then one or two days for the detailed sketch, then the line art is going to take me another day. And so I can break it down and see what I can do. That helps me a lot. Oh, that’s

Iva Mikles  

perfect. Yeah, you’re really organized. That’s really nice.

Djamila Knopf  

I have to be otherwise I’m going crazy. When I when I forget to write anything down. I just I don’t do it. It’s just gone. That’s bad. I have to write everything down. Otherwise I forget birthdays. deadline.

Iva Mikles  

So I know any birthdays. So at least mine yeah, that’s one thing. That’s a good even sometimes forget that. You know, it’s like, oh, okay, if people write me up something I will be like, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk about motivation. Maybe and because he talked about the how you plan and so maybe what is the the main motivation? Or how do you motivate yourself? Is it that they offered you have or the finish of the illustration or something when you have a down day and kind of what keeps you going?

Djamila Knopf  

To be honest, right now it’s really money being poor as the best motivation ever, because you just have to do something. Otherwise you think, Oh, maybe I won’t be able to pay my rent next month. But other than that, I have a Pinterest account. I put lots of stuff on there. I go there first thing in the morning most days, and I just look what’s in my feed or what kind of cool things and I just scroll through all my images that I’ve saved. And there’s always something that inspires me. Or if not, I just go to you to watch a video of someone drawing and each time I see someone drawing I want to draw to I get this itch like ah, I want to draw and then I that helps to and when I when I don’t know what to draw. That’s kind of the challenge if you do your own stuff. And if you want to create a little image every day, you always have to have an idea. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be something and I mostly find that on my Pinterest boards. They helped me with that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, definitely. And so when you have different projects, like maybe in the past, how did you find the new paid projects? Or was it through online? Like networking like DeviantArt and Instagram? Or do you also go for events?

Djamila Knopf  

Oh, I should should go to meet more people but I don’t know um, I? Yeah. Most of the private commissions I’ve gotten I just got over deviant art or Instagram. People write me emails say, hey, this was my project. You want to do it? And if it sounds good, I do it. Why I did. But I’ve also had some company’s clients who just came back to me on a regular basis, I sent them my portfolio and they were like, Yeah, we want to work with you. And after one job, they just emailed me saying, Hey, we have more. Do you want to do this? And that and that was it. Yeah. Cool.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. Because people always wonder about how to get noticed and how to do the networking. So you did mostly the online as well as contacting the companies? Did you put like online portfolio somewhere? Or did you do like a like PDF? You just send them?

Djamila Knopf  

Oh, how I don’t I don’t really remember. But there’s one post on the muddy colors blog by Lauren Pena Pinto, and she often talks about how art directors want to be contacted, or how to talk to art directors if you’re at a convention. So if you want to find resources, I would recommend you to go there she has. She is an art director. So she has a better information than I have. And I think I just followed her advice at the time. I can’t remember now.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And what about like, the worst career moment or something, which was difficult, and maybe if you can share what you learn from it?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah. That must have been last year. The fall of last year, when I was taking all these jobs, I was feeling really down and depressed and exhausted. And I was just taking one job after the next and I started taking things on that I wouldn’t have drawn for myself at all. I got further and further away from the things that I liked. And I talked to my friends, I would like, feeling really bad. It’s hard. And we’re like, Yeah, but you’re an artist, you’re doing the things you love. Like, I’m I don’t think I am “beep”. I just got so far off from the things I set out to do. Like, just drawing what I liked. And at that point, as I said, I moved away from taking the Commission’s and I moved towards doing more of my own stuff. But I also went back to my childhood kind of questioning what influenced me what I liked. And oftentimes, the things you loved as a child still stick with you, or as a teenager, your tastes, I think, develop kind of early, maybe not for everyone, but for me, definitely. And I wanted to capture that that kind of magical feel, what it was to be a child and how to see the world. From that point of view, and all those crazy things that I’d seen in anime and fantasy. I just wanted to try that. So wasn’t can’t really say that. It’s it was a low point, it was kind of a low period for me that kept getting worse and worse. And I had to get out of it.

Iva Mikles  

And was there something good when you said like, when you were a child or teenager, like from the nature, which kind of fascinated you? Because you work with a lot of these, you know, animals in the drawings? And so yeah, is there something you know, like you have this fascination with this part of the nature?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, I had, when I was a child, I spend much more time outside than now, I rarely ever get outside now. My grandparents had this garden, and it was near a canal. And there were there were woods, along the canal. And I remember I was always playing there all the time. I was like, looking at little animals like cricket, or whatever. And I always picked up branches, and I made bows and arrows. And I tried to make fishing poles and to catch fish and all this kind of stupid stuff that children do. And it was a huge field as well with a well and yeah, it was just a nice place for a child to go out and play and explore. And that I think that’s yeah, these are kind of the happiest childhood memories that I have. So I wanted to hold on to that and explore that. And that’s also the feeling that I get when I look at Ghibli movies. You know, they’re background illustrations, they’re like, this perfect representation of what it’s like to see. I look like is and I thought that was just great. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Have you been to the Ghibli Museum in Japan?

Djamila Knopf  

Yes, I have. Yes. I went in in March. I was fortunate enough to go to Japan in February to March this year. Because my boyfriend is there right now. He’s doing a year abroad. And I was like, okay at some point I have to visit him. It’s a year. That’s kind of long time. So went over there. And we spent a month in Tokyo and that was great. So we went to the Jubilee Museum. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. But

Iva Mikles  

it because you have to book it in advance, right? Yeah,

Djamila Knopf  

you have to book you have to go to one of those convenience stores. I think Lawson was the chain that sells the tickets. And we went there in February. And we got a ticket in March. So we went there at the beginning of February and got a ticket at the beginning of March. So I think you could do it online as well. But it’s they give you the specific time in which you can go there and the date. So it’s kind of crowded. But yeah, because I

Iva Mikles  

was trying to book it online. And I just didn’t manage to do it.

Djamila Knopf  

So you went to Tokyo as well. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Just last year or two years ago, I think already now. And I was like, Yes. Let’s go to Jubilee museum. And then I thought that I cannot go and I’m like,

Djamila Knopf  

suck. So did you like it? Otherwise? Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, it was like because we actually did also like Tokyo, Nara, Hiroshima, Kyoto. So we did a bit of like traveling around. So you have the town experience, and also the temples and the years running around these temples. So it was really cool.

Djamila Knopf  

That’s great. Oh, man.

Iva Mikles  

But yeah, so next time, I need to go to Ghibli Museum as well.

Djamila Knopf  

Yes. Yes. book it in advance. For sure. Yeah.

Iva Mikles  

Okay. So that’s something on my to do list. And you mentioned some books, maybe also like dupli books or something which you would recommend to people or as a gift that were like, must read?

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, I’m thinking about it. Um, I don’t have a lot of art books. An art book that I really love is James jeans, fable covers. There’s a collection of his illustrations with a with sketches and everything. So that’s, that’s great. But for books on how to learn to draw, I always recommend for anatomy, Michael Hamptons book, figure drawing, design and invention. If you type that into Google, a PDF pops up, you can just save it. So that’s free. That’s I don’t know who did that. But thank you. For color and light. James Gurney his book color in light. That’s amazing. He goes through different lighting scenarios and explains them and his paintings are just beautiful. So that’s a great book and for composition, framed ink. Tons of others perspective for comic book artists. This is mostly when you have stuff on perspective. It’s kind of dry and technical, but that just little comic dude, walking around his panels and explaining perspective to you. So that was kind of helpful, too. But I still have to learn a lot more. I’m really bad technical stuff. I almost always avoid drawing architecture, things like that.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah. And is there something maybe you bought, which simplifies your life, like a tool or medium or software?

Djamila Knopf  

I would have to say my standing desk has been a really, really good investment. I bought that last year too. And I couldn’t really afford it at that point. But my back was killing me. I’ve had horrible back pain. Since I started working full time. I’ve just there were days where I couldn’t even stand. I just had to lay down all day. And I was like, I’m 26 What’s going on? This is no good at all. So I went to the doctor’s office, I got like physiotherapy sessions, like I did sports, yoga, massages, some weird cream that I put on there that was supposed to help but nothing, nothing did it I was just like, I have to stop sitting so much. I can only keep up with this working schedule with like 12 hours a day or something if I stop sitting. So I went to IKEA and I bought the big hunt standing desk for 500 years I think. And that was kind of pricey, but that thing has 10 years of guarantee like it won’t break for 10 years hopefully. So I was like okay, this is a good investment for my future and it helped after two weeks I was practically pain free so now I can just put it up and down said stand a bit and it’s just yeah, that’s been helpful. So much.

Iva Mikles  

Crazy. Yeah. So it’s the one you can actually put down as well. So you don’t have to stand all

Djamila Knopf  

the time. Okay. Yeah, it’s the electric. sit stand desk.

Iva Mikles  

Nice. Nice. Nice. Yeah, because I work with that as well when I was in the office before, and we had these also the electric desk. And it’s like, so helpful when you can stand up and you don’t realize it when you are sitting all the time. But yeah, so it’s actually quite helpful.

Djamila Knopf  

Yeah, it’s kind of freeing. You just stand there. And sometimes I put music on and I’m like dancing

Iva Mikles  

like your headphones, and then you start dancing it off. He’s like, Yeah. That’s better scenarios, when they ask you what you’re listening to, if they don’t ask, it’s just weird. But, um, let’s talk about the future, maybe. And one of the last questions I want to ask you is about like, maybe five to 10 years, what would you like to be doing? And what is your, like, dream like scenario?

Djamila Knopf  

Amen. Hard. Um, as I said, I’m just at the beginning of exploring this kind of career path. It’s all kind of new to me. But I would love to continue with that just maybe making it more streamlined, a better process for it, maybe creating one big painting per month and be able to make my living off of that of selling prints and selling the original being in galleries. Actually, I just want to continue what I do now, but maybe with a little bit more free time, and just a little bit better support system, maybe, but I just want to keep creating my own stuff, getting it out to people who like it. And continue from there. And I’d like to have more free time. Yeah, maybe cut my workweek down to 3025 hours, that would be perfect. So much of the time. Yeah. So that’s the goal.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, that sounds great. And do you have like a quote you live by or something you like?

Djamila Knopf  

I don’t really have a quote I live by and wrote that one thing in my sketchbook few years ago. I think it said it was by Mark Twain, but you never know when you’ll find stuff on the internet, if that’s actually true. But the quote was, the secret of getting ahead is getting started. And I feel that’s very true. Some people just wait for something to happen. They never really follow through on their plans or dreams. Or even if it’s just one drawing, if you sit down at your desk, and you start scribbling. Or you start looking at pictures and trying to research something, just do anything, if you start things are going to happen. And then maybe six months later, when you started something, you look back and you’re like, yeah, man, I made a lot of things happen that time just because I started somewhere. So yeah,

Iva Mikles  

that makes sense. It’s so simple. But ya know, because people are always like, afraid to start because I want to have it perfect. The idea is not perfect, or whatever, or my skills are not perfect, but you need to get better, somehow. Yeah. And so in the last question I want to ask you is about like, far, far future and like, what would you like to be remembered for in 100 years?

Djamila Knopf  

I don’t know if I have. I think I don’t really care about being remembered. I know a lot of people do art because they want to leave kind of their footprints in the world somewhere. But I’m just about doing the stuff. Designing my life the way I want now, just creating making something. And if people remember me for that, that’s great. But if not, I’ve just had a great time doing it while I was here. Yeah, I think that’s not a good answer. But that’s just how I feel.

Iva Mikles  

But it’s really good. And thank you so much for being here. And thanks, everyone for joining today. And before we say goodbye, you can share like the last piece of guidance if you want or like advice for young people.

Djamila Knopf  

Um, I think I said that earlier, but it’s just do whatever feels good to you. Do what you like, do what feels natural to you know who you are, or try to find out who you are, what you’re inspired by. And just follow through with that. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Sometimes you see people doing one thing. You’re like, Oh, they’re popular because they’re doing that maybe I should do that. But if it’s not who you are, you’re not going to be You come popular because you do bad. Just try to be yourself. That’s kind of a lame piece of advice that everyone can be yourself, do what you love. And you’re going to be fine and people will come to you and see that this stuff means something to you and it’s going to mean something to them.

Iva Mikles  

Yeah, perfect. Thanks so much again for being here today. It was fun.

Djamila Knopf  

Thank you. Thank you so much. It’s fun to

Iva Mikles  

hope people had fun as well and see you next time. Hope you guys enjoyed this interview. You can find all the resources mentioned in this episode at artsideoflife.com. Just type a guest name in the search bar. There is also a little freebie waiting for you. So go check it out. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes, hopefully five stars so I can read and inspire more people like you. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to Art Side of Life podcast, because I post new interview every single workday. If you want to watch the interviews, head over to artsideoflife.com/youtube. Thank you so much for listening. Don’t forget to inspire each other. And I will talk to you guys in the next episode. Bye.

Announcer  

Thanks for listening to the Art Side of Life podcast at www.artsideoflife.com

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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