art creativity Q+A Toronto

Meet Beyonce, pizza and pop culture illustrator LeeAndra Cianci

Photos by Kayla Chobotiuk 

Graphic designer and illustrator LeeAndra Cianci is a boss in every sense of the word—her talent and style are immediately recognizable when it comes to drawing bold and eye-popping illustrations (we dare you to spend less than a minute perusing her pop culture-infused drawings). After finishing fine arts and design degrees on Canada’s east coast, she moved back to Toronto, where she worked as a designer for The Grid TO and Canadian Business Magazine. It was during her time at these positions that she grew her love for editorial design and illustration before very recently becoming a full-time freelancer. BRIKA had the chance to chat with her during her first week as her own boss about Beyoncé, baseball and staying creative.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Inspiration can come from anywhere! I have so many creative friends, whether they are writers, photographers, art directors, designers or illustrators that inspire me everyday with their work. For visual inspiration I’m always flipping through magazines and checking out Instagram and various blogs to see what’s new and trending in the industry. I’m also hugely influenced by pop culture, TV, movies, sports and especially music—it’s not unlikely that you’ll see a Beyoncé doodle or rap lyrics popping up on my Instagram!

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How do you stay creative?

I think it’s important to always be learning new things. Skillshare.com is one of my favorite resources—a little while ago I took a calligraphy and lettering class and now that’s something I love to incorporate into my illustration projects. Another way I stay creative is to collaborate with friends on passion projects. Recently, two of my friends and I did a super fun pizza photo essay just for kicks that ended up getting printed in a magazine! I think personal projects like that are super important to keep the creative juices flowing and to remind yourself how fun your job really is!

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What’s your advice for young people looking to pursue a career in a creative industry?

First, be true to yourself—find your voice and trust your gut. It’s so important in any creative industry to be passionate about what you’re creating! Also, this may sound obvious, but don’t be afraid to promote yourself. Social media is so important in the creative industry right now—I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve gotten because someone saw something I posted on Instagram. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help and use your connections. You’ll be able to return the favor one day!

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What are words that you live by?

Everyday I’m hustlin’—I have that written on a piece of paper above my desk!

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