Lois van Baarle, AKA Loish, is loved for her appealing character designs and her generosity with her process.
Known by her pen name Loish, Lois van Baarle is a freelance illustrator, animator, and digital painter living in the Netherlands. The prolific artist has been commissioned by international brands for work in commercials, comic books, video games, and more, and she travels the world to give workshops and live demos for fellow artists. Her openness with her process has garnered a loyal fan base, and they funded a Kickstarter project for her second book, The Sketchbook of Loish: Art in Progress, in four minutes! In an interview, Lois shared how she developed her personal style and how she chooses which opportunities to pursue next.
When did you know you wanted to make a career in art, and what has that journey been like?
I always knew that drawing was my main talent, but I didn’t actually decide to pursue a career in art until I was in my final year of high school. I believed the myth that artists can’t make a living off of creative work, so I considered many different options until I finally had to face the fact that drawing was my favorite thing to do. I knew that any other career choice would be a constant struggle to find time to draw, because I loved doing it so much. So I decided to study animation. After that, it was a pretty straightforward path. Because I was active with sharing my art on the internet, I had a lot of people who knew my art, and therefore a lot of freelance opportunities, when I graduated animation school. Now there’s no turning back!
How did you develop your personal style?
My style is a mix of different art styles that I love, particularly Disney and Art Nouveau. I developed it during a time where I was drawing very intensively and on a daily basis. This was when I was about 17 years old and feeling very motivated to improve. I drew in short bursts, spending about 30 minutes to an hour on a drawing, which helped me to learn fast, develop shortcuts, and try out techniques that were efficient. During this time my own style emerged, and I still use a similar type of workflow today.
What are the greatest challenges and rewards of your work?
The greatest challenge is to keep my momentum going without running myself into the ground. I’ve struggled with injuries in my arm from drawing too much—I’m definitely the type of person who just wants to constantly keep going. So I take steps to make sure I don’t overwork myself, but in doing so I can lose touch with my own creative flow. Striking a balance between these two is really hard.
The greatest reward has been my freedom. I am totally autonomous in deciding which work I take on, when I take time off, what my day looks like, etc. It feels amazing to have so much control over my own decisions and the course of my career.
How do you break through fears and doubts in your creative life—the art itself and the workshops and promotional aspects as well?
I try to make career decisions based on whether they are a good fit with who I am and what I create. If something feels like it’s a good fit, then I’ll do it, even if it seems scary. With things like workshops, book signings, and other public events, I feel like it is the right moment in my career to start doing these things, which helps motivate me to get over any fears associated with it. I am terrified of public speaking and of getting up in front of an audience, but it’s been worth it because it feels right to me. So I guess the short answer would be: following my intuition and being willing to try new things.
Aside from making art, what are your everyday inspirations?
I get a lot of inspiration from nature and the outdoors. Just the feeling of peacefulness and balance that it gives me is very important. And I browse social media every day, seeing what artists I admire have posted and created. This also helps inspire me.
View this post on Instagram
What’s one truth you’ve learned as an artist?
That it’s not so much about the technique or whether your art is perfect, but much more about whether you’re in a creative flow and enjoying what you do. Others can sense that and will look past technical imperfections, if you really enjoy what you make and it’s authentic to who you are.
That’s so reassuring. Thank you for sharing that. Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
Never give up your guilty pleasure when it comes to art and creativity!