Phind out Phriday: More than Paint and Paper, Laura Bushinski, Illustrator etc.

I’ve never hidden from you all that I am a nerd. I’ve never not enjoyed learning both inside and outside of traditional educational settings. As a kid I loved book challenges and I was totally fine with taking a break from Barbie dolls and Kenya dolls to read by myself. I remember one of my favorite books as a kid was The Lonely Doll. I loved the story line and was fascinated by the pictures. The pictures were black and white and were a cross between photography and hand drawn pictures.  As a kid in a lot of ways the pictures were the best part of the story. Sometimes the pictures told their on story.

Fortunately for me as a kid there were great illustrator and fortunately for me as an adult I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet one. Laura Bushinski is an illustrator who I happened upon at an after work event in the city. She is a woman who creates the pictures that I as a kid was amazed by and definitely stirred my own creative juices. I’ve interviewed quite a few interesting people in the blog, and Laura is truly one of the most gracious, undoubtedly creative (take a look at the details in her pictures), and honest interviewees to date.

Phreedum: Who are you in 5 words?

LB: I'm still learning this every-day.

Phreedum: When did you first fall in love with illustration?

LB: I've been drawing as long as I can remember, and I've loved picture books perhaps even longer than that. When I was quite young I saw Tomie dePaola on Reading Rainbow, and I think that was when I first knew what I wanted to do with my life. After that I was always involved in some sort of art activity.

Phreedum: What illustration or collection of illustrations have you created that you are most proud of?

LB: It's really hard for me to be proud of a piece for a very long time because I constantly see myself in a pursuit of getting better at my craft, and growing in my skills. However, right now I super proud of my Twelve Dancing Princesses collection of illustrations. Those pieces got me over a dry patch of creativity, and it helped me prove to myself that I had talent, when I was beginning to think otherwise.

Phreedum: I noticed a lot of your work has an Indian theme. Can you tell me about that influence? 

LB: I love learning about cultures, especially folklore and fairytales. Indian culture has to be one of my favorites and has been a reoccurring inspiration throughout my life. I love the art, the people, the history, the dancing, the music; everything is just so full of color, intricate details, and lush history.

Phreedum: So in addition to Indian culture, where do you find inspiration and motivation?

LB: Oh gosh, so many things can and do inspire me.  But if I were to pick one I would have to say the human story. Not just as they are read and portrayed in written form, but even story telling. I grew up around story tellers. It seemed to me they could weave words into magic that would somehow drift through my ear and into my head and create such marvelous pictures. Sometimes it's a bit harder to listen now that I am older and life is busy, but everything is full of stories if we care to take the time to listen.

As for motivation, besides my own passion for my work, my family is the greatest motivation to continue. They believe in me even when I don't believe in myself.

Phreedum: What has been a highlight for you as an artist?

LB:  A few weeks ago my illustration collection Twelve Dancing Princesses was accepted into The Philadelphia Sketch Club's fifth annual Phillustration exhibit. That alone was an honor, but when I went to the opening I found my piece was hung right below an illustration by Charles Santore. He is a very prominent children's book illustrator whose work is absolutely beautiful. I just couldn't believe my work was hanging in the same room as his, let alone right below it!

Phreedum: What has been one of the biggest lessons you have learned as an artist?

LB: Having the courage to keep trying after you fail. You will fail a lot in life. However, I prefer to remind myself that failure is just a stepping stone or a hint that you need to approach something in a new way.

Phreedum: How does your work change the lives of others?

LB: I hope that as I am illustrating and working towards fulfilling my dream of writing and illustrating books that they help people to dream a little bit more, and maybe care for one another a little bit more.

Phreedum: What are some of the sacrifices artists make? 

LB: A clean room, that's for sure. All jokes aside though I think they make the same type of sacrifices that anyone who chooses to do what they love makes, and it depends on the person. Some people lose friends and family who don't appreciate their talent, and we all end up sacrificing money and time into projects that may not end up working out. But I'd rather die with a sketchbook in my lap and pencil in my hand than with a calculator.
If you can't be happy in your career, then don't be in it.

Phreedum: What would you consider your greatest resource?

LB: It may sound really nerdy yet simple, but I’m going to say- the library. Libraries houses so much knowledge, wonder, and just absolute amazement. And, at least here in the US, you can get all of that for free. Who doesn’t like free?

Phreedum: Are there are other art forms you enjoy (i.e. graphic design, abstract painting, interior design, sewing, etc.)? If so what are they? And why illustration out of all the various art forms? 

LB: Illustration is my passion because I love to draw. This tends to leak into the other creative fields I dabble in, like graphic design, oil painting, and felting. While I certainly think I am capable of doing some graphic design jobs, and some types of oil painting, I don't see them as my forte. Felting is almost pure hobby, though I may end up selling some creations at some point, but right now it's just something I do for fun and gifts. I also write, not as much as I should. Oh and I like to bake.

Phreedum: So you are pretty diverse with your creative interests.

LB: I am, but illustration is my first love.

Phreedum:  What advice would you give to other artists?

LB: It's so cliché, but I’d have to say I think it’s important they know not to give up, and to follow their heart. Things will be hard, especially in this economy, but every struggle is just another step toward something bigger and better.

To learn more about Laura and see other illustrations please visit

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