Our Fine Friends: Shyama Golden, Illustrator

August 29, 2017
- Our Fine Friends
Author - Nick Dies

Shyama, it rhymes with llama (minus the ‘y’, that’s silent).

Shyama Golden is a New York-based graphic designer meets artist meets illustrator. Her portraits, patterns, and illustrations are unforgettable, and have drawn attention from The New York Times, The Atlantic, Apple, and Red Bull, to name just a select few.

Shyama has been a friend of the Funkhaus family for a while. She was interviewed by one of our favorite publications, The Great Discontent, a little ways back and gave a sage piece of advice that resonates with us, when asked the question, “What advice would you give to someone who is starting out?”

Her response? “…It’s probably a good idea to invest some time and effort into a decent website if you’re starting out.”

That’s advice we can get behind, from a creative mind we’ve had the fortune of getting to know. Meet Our Fine Friend, Shyama Golden.

Who are you?

I’m a graphic designer turned artist/illustrator.

What or who inspires you?

The underrated and overlooked inspire me.

Outline a day in your life.

Generally I wake up around 10am and spend the first part of the day responding to things, planning, and doing administrative boring stuff: emails, invoicing, organizing, looking for references, researching something. Later in the day I do the bulk of my creative work, which is mostly drawing and a good dose of erasing and undoing and compulsively starting over. If the ideas are flowing I may work into the night but I find that all-nighters are pretty much never worth it anymore.

What do you listen to while working? While unwinding?

Denitia and Sene, and Kendrick Lamar are my most played on Spotify right now. Lately I’ve been getting into audiobooks, they’re free to download with a library card and the easiest way to find time to read a book.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Stop thinking too much.

What’s your favorite medium to create on?

Oil paints, but I have been using the iPad and and app called Procreate to draw lately and it comes surprisingly close with the added benefit of being easier to turn into an animation or pattern.

What’s your process when making a portrait? Does it differ from making a pattern?

When I’m going after a likeness, I usually have about 20 images of the person up on my computer like a crazy stalker, and amalgamate those into one sketch that will embody the person more than any one photo could. As I keep working, I like to reference old portraits I’ve done to keep the new work in the same universe of color and style.

If I’m drawing a pattern, I would normally do that digitally by drawing on the iPad. I start with just one tile, draw a rough sketch, and test it out in Photoshop to see if I like how the repeat flows. As I keep tweaking, I test it in Photoshop many times and use a filter called “offset” which just shifts the design so I can keep the design seamless.

What both have in common is that my first black and white sketch is rough, and I start laying out colors in large blobs fairly soon in the process.

Where do you go for distractions?

Lately I read a lot of news, and go down tangents of questions that I Google.

Anything you’d like to plug?

I have some stickers for iMessage that you can get here. Right now they’re either free or 99c and the most entertainment you can get in that price range.