Drawing Inspiration

A freelance illustrator and hand-letterer tells us about her artwork.

Andrew Lee and Ryan Newman.

Art, for the artist, can be a lonely experience. Painters, illustrators, novelists: The perfection of their craft is often an exercise in isolation, with countless hours spent behind a drafting table, desk, or easel.

But for Cristina Vanko (B.F.A./B.A. ’11, Fine Arts, Spanish), art is an exercise in connection. As a celebrated illustrator, art director, and hand-letterer, she’s published books with Penguin Random House and worked on international marketing campaigns for McDonald’s, Instagram, Nike, Google, and many others, her artwork engaging the eyes and emotions of millions all around the world.

And yet, the connections that she makes through her artwork aren’t limited to the big and bold. She relishes the chance to leave anonymous affirmations written in chalk on the sidewalk of her neighborhood or in the fog of a window pane, hopefulness and earnest optimism trailing in her wake. However solitary the creation of art may be, Vanko’s work is all about relatedness.

Show transcript
00.00 --> 00:03
[Upbeat music plays.]

00:10 --> 00:16
Hi, I'm Cristina Vanko. I'm an author, freelance art director, illustrator, and hand letterer.

00:19 --> 00:22
A lot of times, when I sit down and start to create,

00:22 --> 00:26
a lot of it comes from just basic human truths of ...

00:27 --> 00:33
... my experiences as an adult or something relatable that we can all share.

00:34 --> 00:37
For example, I really love leaving messages on the sidewalk ...

00:38 --> 00:42
... just because you are kind of giving yourself to somebody else.

00:43 --> 00:47
And who knows what they're feeling? They could have been having a bad day.

00:48 --> 00:52
[Vanko, drawing]: Cities are big, and sometimes you just want to feel a little less alone.

00:53 --> 00:56
"Sometimes I like to spread a little positivity."

00:56 --> 00:59
[Music resumes.]

01:03 --> 01:05
In terms of my illustration work,

01:06 --> 01:07
from, like, my "Adultish" book,

01:08 --> 01:10
those are very quick and silly.

01:11 --> 01:13
I want them to be a little bit more relatable.

01:13 --> 01:16
If they were too perfect, I don't think people would laugh as much.

1:17 --> 01:20
[Music builds.]

01:24 --> 01:28
[Music builds even more.]

01:41 --> 01:45
Vanko: "I came to IU thinking that I really wanted to be a lawyer."

01:46 --> 01:48
And that changed my first year.

01:49 --> 01:53
I was always interested in art, but I think as kids ...

01:53 --> 01:55
... you're told it's a really hard career to jump in to.

01:56 --> 02:00
Being in the College of Arts and Sciences does give you a certain level of flexibility ...

02:01 --> 02:03
... to change your direction or your path.

02:03 --> 02:07
I thrive off of that constantly changing type of environment.

02:07 --> 02:11
Not knowing what I'm doing the next day does kind of excite me.

02:14 --> 02:17
There have been so many different discoveries that I've made along the way ...

02:18 --> 02:21
... that have made life and my career a lot more interesting.

02:23 --> 02:28
[Music resumes and slowly fades out.]

Venture Production Group

This film was produced by Venture Production Group. Andrew Lee (B.A. ’06, Telecommunications) serves as executive producer for the company, and Ryan Newman  (B.A. ’07, Telecommunications) serves as creative director.