Hey! I’m Myling, turning 24 in September, and a Cambodian-Canadian born and raised in St. Catharines. I’m currently a fourth year illustration student at OCAD U. I’ve been heavily involved with the visual arts stream since I was 7!
Illustrative art with Myling Pak
"I truly admire nature, so this is an element I usually keep in my pieces"
Did you have any strong influences growing up that would've directed you towards a path down illustration?
Absolutely! My family is full of creatives and without that factor I probably would have pursued a different career path. I honestly didn’t know this until a few years ago, but on my mom’s side of the family my uncle is a media photographer and my aunt makes traditional/ wedding dresses. Ultimately though, growing up I was heavily influenced by my cousin, Alex. He was pretty much my brother since we only had each other at the time. He was crazy outgoing and drew some funny, wacky stuff. I wanted to draw too on my own time, but I always beamed towards the cute side of art. There was also this kid in my grade 2 class that was the star artist, and to be honest, that drove me to be more competitive. Then he moved away-- I guess I took his spot from there.
Is there anything or anyone that influences your art style today?
There’s such a huge ongoing list of inspirations that helped me develop my own style. I would have to say my heavier influences come from various tattoo artists such as Honeypokes and Mellowpokes. They just produce beautiful, fluid characters and works, I highly recommend checking them out. I’m also super in love with interior design-- usually art deco, dreamy kind of feels. OH, and DON’T get me started on flowers, and plants. I just can’t leave my babies out of this one. I truly admire nature, so this is an element I usually keep in my pieces.
"I’ve learned over the course that if I could pour my heart and soul in any piece, someone else is bound to relate too"
What have you designed or created that you are most proud of?
There’s only one piece from my first year of university that I kept. It was an assignment to design a romance movie poster. Naturally, I had to do Moonrise Kingdom. I have it all framed and hung on my wall. It’s a precious reminder of a time where I cried way too much and almost quit school entirely. This piece however, was the only proud piece I made that year. The only one that I didn’t throw out. The only one that made me push forward.
What is your biggest goal for your art?
I really just want everybody to feel connected to it. I’ve learned over the course that if I could pour my heart and soul in any piece, someone else is bound to relate too. I definitely wish one day that I could publish my art in children’s books! If I could teach others, it would be for those who need visual learning the most.
You also do photography! Is that something you’ve always been passionate about and how did that journey start?
I do! It’s funny though, I just started doing it for fun during my two-gap years before going back to school. I was just so bored all the time. My friends were always busy with school and I just simply needed time to kill. I’ve always had a representation as the ‘shy kid’, from elementary school until the end of highschool. This really stunned me that I could have been a lot more social if I wanted to-- thus, challenged myself to meet and make new friends by taking their photos. It was just a hobby I loved, but it gradually grew into a side career!
What is the biggest struggle you face in your industry? What is something or someone that keeps you going even during the toughest times?
I definitely think having to keep consistent with being creative can lead to a burnout for me. When I’m in the zone to do work I will do it day after day. But, as soon as I give myself a proper break it becomes hard to pick up again. I’m still figuring out what will keep me motivated, but so far if the weather is great, I think a hike or a drive blasting music helps. I used to heavily rely on being around my friends to help refuel, but under the circumstances of covid it’s definitely been challenging.
"I used to heavily rely on being around my friends to help refuel"
What is some key advice that you would give to a beginner illustrator?
Always, always, always, draw for yourself. Even if you’re working with a client, make sure you add a part of you in your works or else it won’t feel like you’re really working with them, but rather for them. If you’re scared of copying someone’s work, take pieces of it and see how you develop your skills from there. How do you think they’ve learned? And lastly, you can’t unlearn how to draw, you can only stay the same or move forward with it.
What’s one small business you absolutely love and would recommend readers to check out?
Can I be biased? Grandma’s Basement.
Jokes aside, though I really would recommend Grandma’s Basement to anyone, I think magnetism store sources beautiful, simple vintage as well. Check them out!
We'll always be looking for new and exciting talent to showcase in our community.
Do you or someone you know want to be interviewed? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could have a chance to be featured!