Creative Contributor: Ella Lama
By Melanie Gasmen-Fleck
A little about Ella:
Ella Lama is an illustrator based in Manila, Philippines. She specializes in digital illustration and lettering. Aside from working with commercial clients and other commissions, she designs and sells her own line of stationery products. She also teaches a business workshop to help artists price and promote their work. When not playing with her art materials, she’s hunting down new books to read, watching true crime documentaries, or journaling. See more of her work at ellalama.com and @ella_llama on Instagram.
What got you interested in art? How did you get started?
As a kid, I was quite creative. I enjoyed writing and crafts, but I did not draw a lot. I only started getting into art around 2012, when I was trying to find ways to de-stress from work. My job required me to be in front of the computer for most of the day, so I wanted a hobby that didn’t involve a screen. My younger sister gave me a set of felt markers, and I practiced lettering inspirational quotes. From there, I explored other themes and subjects. Now I am a full-time illustrator!
What is your favorite medium to create in?
Digital is my main medium for work, but in my free time, I like using gouache and ink. I’ve become comfortable with drawing on the computer, so I enjoy the challenge of learning about traditional materials. Since there is no undo button when working on paper, I am more mindful of the process. It keeps me on my toes!
What is one of your favorite projects that you've done?
I would definitely say working on the Bravery coloring book! I feel like my style comes alive with color, so to work in black and white was a welcome challenge. I tried to figure out how to infuse personality into the pages, and I got to experiment with a bunch of different layouts and lettering styles to achieve that.
I also enjoy illustrating food, so anytime I get to do that becomes instant faves in my book! Research is one of the parts of my job that excites me, and who doesn’t like looking at different dishes and recipes?
What do you love most about what you do?
I love that there’s something new on my plate every day. It doesn’t get boring! One day I'll be drawing medical supplies, the next day, I'll be working on a map. I also like how illustration involves a lot of reading and research; learning about new things is one of my favorite aspects of my job.
What's something hard about what you do?
Since I work by myself, I have to wear a lot of different hats. Juggling all my to-do's can be too much sometimes. I wish I could say I draw all day, but in reality, I have to take care of emails, marketing, invoices, taxes, and other administrative tasks.
What is your dream project or collaboration?
Oh, there's a lot! I would love to collaborate with a brand on a quirky and colorful home decor or stationery collection. I would also love to work on an illustrated book about the ups and downs of the creative journey.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through a short astronaut phase, but what I remember the most was wanting to be around words and books—to be a librarian, a journalist, or a writer. There's just something about being transported to other worlds that sparked my imagination as a kid, and I am happy that what I'm doing now is quite similar.
Talk us through your process for creating the lettering in the coloring book.
It was through lettering that I got my start in art, so I was pumped to go back to my roots in a way. However, line art isn't something I do often, so I was intimidated at first. I decided to read up on the women featured in the book, and their stories inspired me to infuse the pages with as much detail as I can. It was challenging to make the pages look consistent but still have their own flair, and I'm happy with the way they turned out. My favorite was Sheryl Swoopes' because I loved basketball as a kid (I didn't play, but I watched a lot of it), and I had so much fun adding all the details. I hope the readers enjoy coloring the pages as much as I enjoyed the process of designing them.