5 Minutes with… Illustrator, Rebecca Ter Borg

2 years ago by

Design Assembly recently got the opportunity to check in with illustrator Rebecca Ter Borg to find out a bit more about her latest work, what inspires it and how she juggles it all.

What have you been working on since we last chatted with you?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really satisfying jobs and projects that align with my ethics and/or are fun to draw.  I did some drawings for a Keep NZ Beautiful campaign which involved drawing lots of native critters and plants and a poster for Pangeaseed’s Sea Walls festival in Gisborne, Tairawhiti, again highlighting environmental issues and including drawing natural elements, which I love!

I was also part of a special book project, alongside 9 other NZ women illustrators, which came out earlier this year called Go Girls, a book for kids (and adults) about inspiring NZ women.

I’ve been part of some group exhibitions, done some fun illustrations for packaging and a bit of work for musicians (who are generally the easiest and most open and creative clients you can hope for!) I also did my first co-llab mural with my partner (more on this below).

Can you tell us about more the narrative style in your work, what is it about people and stories?

I like the idea that you can create a glimpse into a fictional world that you’ve created especially for one image.  I like it to be a wee bit mysterious and leave it open to interpretation what the characters are actually up to, what has happened before the snapshot in time that the illustration shows, and what is going to happen next.

It probably stemmed from my life-long love of books and reading.  I grew up without a tv so books were my main down-time entertainment as a kid. Apparently I used to make new dust-jackets for my books with my own drawings on them if I didn’t think the cover illustrations were appropriate to the story.

What excites you about what you do?

The act of drawing, using my hands and creating always makes me happy in quite a simple, uncomplicated way.  The possibilities of illustration and it’s application seem to always be growing and when work comes from outside you can be led in directions you never would have thought of, which is always interesting.

Last time we spoke to you mentioned your working day is truncated by school pick ups (something many people myself included can relate too I think), how do you keep the work flowing around a busy lifestyle?

To be honest I’m not sure if I’ve quite cracked it yet, there is a constant juggle on as I’m sure is the case for most working mammas! I rely a bit on the ebb and flow of free-lancing so that I can get life stuff done in down-times.  But when it’s been busy consistently it can definitely be a bit full on.  I think there probably needs to be some deep down societal changes around work, families, expectations, valuing the arts etc.  I’m not sure if I have any solutions but I think the shift that’s already slowly happening towards more sharing resources, creating a village for yourself, thinking communally rather than individualistically is probably the right direction to go in.

What have you been working on recently?

I participated in a mural festival in Gisborne with my partner Nigel Roberts creating our first collaborative work.  It was one of my first times painting really large scale and I loved it.  The event was inspiring on so many levels, it was put on by Pangeaseed, a charity that works to raise awareness about the state of our oceans, the Sea Walls festivals happen worldwide and are all about using art to provoke conversations about the ocean.  Being part of a community of artists, local, national and international for a week and being part of a wider community, the supportive and enthusiastic residents of Gisborne, was really encouraging and it was so great to see first hand how effective ARTivism can be.

Where you do you draw inspiration from at the moment? What’s keeping you going?

I’m not always aware of what’s inspiring me at the time but when I look back there’s always re-occuring motifs that often reveal (hopefully just to me) where my head might be at.  People amongst foliage seem to have been dominant for a while, maybe it’s a city-girl’s longing for some nature…

And finally, where to next for you? What does 2019 hold?

I would love to know myself haha, free-lancing is full of surprises so it does make it hard to plan sometimes.  I’d like to do more collaborating or connecting with other creatives and communities. I’d like to do more murals if the opportunity comes up. Art-related travel would be great and of course Chromacon is a big highlight in the calendar for NZ illustrators.

Where can we see more of your work?

I’m probably best at keeping Instagram updated @rebeccaterborg_illustration but I also have a website www.rebeccaterborg.com

Featured photo by Vanessa Rushton


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