Stasia Burrington’s artwork flows between the soft, stylized illustrations as seen in Mae Among the Stars to the more realistic figures, flora, and flowing hair that are unmistakable earmarks of art nouveau. We spoke to Stasia about her artistic influences, her most whimsical wishes, and her life as a working artist.
Your work is so playful and fantastical, detailed and expressive. Which artists and illustrators do you admire? Any picture books you love?
Oh gosh, thank you. From a young age I was really into Tintin (Herge), and ElfQuest (Wendy and Richard Pini). The drawings are excellent, and there’s a sense of adventure and action that I adore. I’ve loved Alphonse Mucha for a long time, all those beautiful people and swooping, generous botanical lines. My current picture book that I’m obsessed with is called Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët. The material is a little morbid, but also sensitive and very pretty.
How did you get connected with Roda Ahmed to illustrate Mae Among the Stars?
I’m really fortunate in that Roda found my work online while searching for an illustrator, and at the time I’d created a series of Cosmonauts, a bunch of girls in spacesuits on other planets, which she found. Roda emailed me, I emailed back, and that’s that!
Is there a project that remains especially close to your heart?
When I was little I made a series of drawn stories featuring my imaginary friend, Anna. Those drawings are long gone but I think today I’m still chasing that feeling of creating, and finding peace in making pictures and stories just for me, and just because it feels good. Now as an adult with bills and an ego and a schedule to follow it’s trickier to find that space, but that spirit is something I hold very dear.
As a full-time artist, what does your typical day look like?
I usually sleep in until Kiki, my black cat, gently (but with increasing insistency) taps me on the eyelids to demand food. I put on my robe, feed the kitties, and immediately start a pot of coffee. I try to make some time in the mornings to read, while sipping coffee and munching down some food. Then I’ll check emails, and take some time to pack orders from my online shop. Maybe every other day I’ll go to the post office to drop off packages. If I have drawing work to do, then I’ll sit on the floor and work at it on the coffee table, while listening to podcasts or half-watching documentaries. Depending on how busy I am I have been known to subsist strictly on instant ramen, Doritos and coffee. Which is pleasant for a while but… not as an everyday thing.
What was your most whimsical wish when you were a kid?
Uhh, I had a lot. But when I was quite small I imagined I’d be able to get a job on a spaceship as a “space artist,” – since, you know, it’d be necessary to have someone on board to document the final frontier!
What’s your most whimsical wish now?
Hmm, this is a great question. I have loose plans to build an “adventuremobile” – to gut a bus or a van and convert it into a teeny living space through which I can traverse the continent.
Do you have any plans to author a book of your own?
I have the interest, I’m just waiting for the right story.
Can you tell us about a time you accomplished something you thought would be a reach?
Oddly, this isn’t art related, but running related. I’ve lived nearly my whole life as a more-or-less sedentary artist, and a firm belief that I hated, and was bad at – running. But I am competitive and do like challenges. So I came across a Couch-to-5-K program, and on a masochistic lark, decided to have at it. It was uncomfortable and frustrating, but after looking at my logs from last year I was surprised to see that I’d ran over 100 miles, which past me never would have believed was possible. It’s really a reminder to myself to not decide on my limits or capacity without fully testing those beliefs.