I’m so excited to bring back Behind The Print, a blog series I started years ago interviewing online creators about how they started out, their inspiration and future plans, and – of course – a peek behind their creative process. Today, I would like to introduce you to Windy Lau from Moonaries.illo and her signature illustrated cat Mocha. We talk about how her shop came to be, how she juggles being a creator with being a mom, her future plans, being a creative entrepreneur in Oslo, and her giveaway you all should participate in…
Welcome to Behind the Print, Windy! Tell us a bit about your artistic background. What led you to design unique artwork and create Moonaries.illo?
And I need to know: Is your moon really in Aries or how did the name come about?
Thanks for having me, Martina. I am a self-taught illustrator but I have been drawing and painting my whole life. When I was a kid, I took painting classes as a hobby.
When my daughter was 1 year old, she would take a nap in the afternoon. That was when I discovered Skillshare and started taking some digital art online courses during her naptime. In 2019, I bought an iPad and started making digital art and also had the courage to start sharing my art on Instagram.
You cracked the code! My moon sign is in Aries, hence the name. Before I started drawing cat illustrations, I was obsessed with making space art and I wanted to have a more astronomic account name. Even though my style has changed now, I still like this name and I am not planning to change it yet.
I remember finding your page on Instagram. Mocha – your signature cat – immediately stuck out to me from the rest of the cat illustrations on Instagram. There’s something so relatable and lovable about him. How did he come to live?
It was all just an accident! Around this time last year, I applied to be part of a designer Christmas market in Oslo and got in. I didn’t have a shop or anything to sell back then. So I just thought I would make some cards. I drew three birthday cards with a black cat and my customers found him very funny. Later on, I made some Christmas illustrations based on this black cat. There was one illustration where the cat was wrapped in a green blanket, with a star over his head, I called it “Catmas tree” – it was featured on the Instagram Explore page and lots of people loved it. So I drew more and more and that was how Mocha came to life! (It’s his birthday soon, by the way!)
I love how the best ideas seem to happen by accident! Take us through the average process from the idea to the first draft to the finished drawing on Moonaries.illo
Mocha is a cat that struggles with daily life in a funny and relatable way. Coming up with an idea usually takes the longest time. I look through a lot of funny/motivational quotes and cat memes. First, I start by looking through these quotes and see if anything inspires me. For example, recently I drew an illustration with the words “My goal for this weekend is to move just enough so that no one thinks I am dead.” I first had this quote in mind and then started sketching how Mocha could deliver this message in a fun way. This process can take from 30 minutes to a few hours – really depends on my creative juice that day. After I have a good idea and a clean sketch, things will go smoothly, and illustrating Mocha takes about 30 minutes to an hour.
What/who inspires you?
My inspiration mostly comes from daily life – I think that’s why people find Mocha so very relatable. Like I said previously, funny and motivational quotes inspire me a lot.
Daily life really can be the best source of inspiration! Do you work full-time on Moonaries.illo or is it a side business right now?
I have been staying home with my kid for a few years now. My main “job” is to take care of her, however, I put all my free time into my shop. When she’s in kindergarten for about half a day, I work on my shop and illustrations. I sometimes work on weekends too in my pop-up shop or in craft markets. So I do think of it as my full-time job to be honest.
it’s great how you manage to do it all! Right now, You have a versatile Etsy shop offering prints, stickers, totes, mugs, and even sweaters. What is next for you, you think?
After running my Etsy shop for some months now, I realized that in addition to my shop I should have more diversified income streams. It’s because running my shop takes up most of my time and I have less time to make art now. Having more passive income allows me to have more time to draw. So my next big goals are starting my Patreon and maybe a YouTube channel.
For those who don’t know: Patreon is a platform where people can subscribe to their favorite creators’ accounts and get rewards in return every month. The rewards are up to what the artists offer, usually digital downloads, stickers, postcards, art prints, etc. It is an excellent way to support an artist, the artist gets an extra income and is able to make more art. It’s a win-win!
Patreon seems to be on the rise these days. It makes a lot of sense for creators like you!
How did you find the distributors you work with? Owning your mugs myself, I must say they’re pristine quality. Also, Thank you For printing the mug on both sides, it’s a detail so many shops overlook!
I am so glad you like the mugs! I use a print-on-demand company to produce my mugs. When a customer places an order in my Etsy shop, the company will send the order to the nearest location where the customer’s shipping address is and the mug will be produced there. For example, if you’re located in Europe, the mugs are produced in Latvia. If you live in Australia, the mugs are made locally there. It’s a good solution for small business owners like me to avoid keeping inventory which can get very costly. I’m happy with their quality because they manage to keep the vibrant colors.
That is amazing and makes the shipping process much more smoothly! Did you ever have to deal with someone stealing your art?
It’s difficult to know if someone steals my art, to be honest. I hope not! When I share my work on Instagram, I always add watermarks and the resolution is not high so I hope it helps a bit to prevent that.
Do you have a favorite print or artwork by another artist you purchased or wished that was your idea?
I always want to buy a print from French gouache artist Roxane Campoy. I am just obsessed with her art! I love the way she uses negative space and how she uses mostly primary colors in her artwork. I took her online gouache painting class and I wish I could paint like her! I will probably buy a painting from her as a Christmas gift for myself.
Treat yourself, is All I can add! You live in Oslo. Is there a big community around creatives like you or is that still in the early stages?
One of the factors that allow me to grow my business is the opportunity to sell my products in many different art markets in Oslo. In the last couple of years, there have been more organizations arranging art markets for creatives. There are so many people selling their own artwork or handmade products like jewelry, candles, soaps, and leather goods. I always see familiar faces when I attend one of these craft markets. I’m very glad to see that people are pursuing their dreams of selling their handmade products and thanks to the big community here can make it happen.
Thank you so much for taking us Behind The Print today, Windy. Where can my readers find you online?
(All images courtesy of Windy Lau)