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Illustrator Spotlight with Pamela Guest

Process, style, color and influences: Get to know the talent behind the illustrations we love

Illustration: Pamela Guest

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you found your way to a creative career.

I’m a freelance illustrator/animator and (sometimes) graphic designer currently living in Berlin, Germany. I usually work on a lot of editorial commissions for newspapers, magazines and create promotional materials for small brands. I also very much enjoy working within the music sector, creating show posters or album covers for independent artists. Before moving to Berlin, I was living in Brooklyn, NY and working full time as an animator for a newscast. I was a bit burned out, so I decided to take a break and pursue a 6 month artist residency In Berlin starting in January 2020. This small break turned into 3.5 years of ‘seeing what happens’ and I am happily (permanently) living here now and freelancing full time.

I am originally from Quito, Ecuador and migrated to California with my parents when I was a child. Growing up in Southern California but being from somewhere else played a huge part in my creative life. I was lucky to live in a city where there was always something going on. It made it easy to be immersed in pop culture, music, and many diverse subcultures which really shaped my interests. I also found that the contrasting influences from my homeland propelled my desire to find a way to make sense of it all, which I began to explore through making art. Throughout my years in high school, I was drawing and painting a lot, I was encouraged by my high school art teacher to apply to art university. I wanted to explore a different place so I applied to Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. I enrolled in the animation program and fell in love with different ways of creating moving image work. I began experimenting a lot with stop motion, hand drawn animation and creating animated still life. Through going to art school I was able to nail down my influences and begin to make work that I was really excited about.

How did you find your medium and style, and who and what influenced you?

Finding my medium was very fluid. Like I mentioned, I began my career as an animator, making some stop motion and 2D animated work but then somehow found my way to illustration. I think spending hours on end on one animated sequence after another burned me out a bit and pushed me to try to make work that still told a story but felt a bit more balanced. I also found that learning about different disciplines and having a ranging skill set has allowed me to be a bit experimental and have a fluid and fun approach to the work I currently make.

Some early influences for me were Daniel Clowes - I've always loved his way of storytelling and depicting coming of age. He’s been a big inspiration for me and really got me interested in making sequential art. Sally Cruikshank has been another huge inspiration for me. From her color palettes to the wackiness of her subjects and the elaborate nature of her animations, she was such a pioneering force in the animation world and someone who I continue to draw inspiration from to this day. I’ve also been going to the archive of youth culture in Berlin a bit and have found so much inspiration from going through zines from the 80’s and 90’s. So many fun illustrations, layouts and textures to pull from! It’s all super inspiring.

What subjects are you most fascinated with?

I love drawing people and depicting ‘real life’ situations in a fun and over exaggerated way. It’s always so interesting to draw over emphasized expressions and add some fun textural components to my work because playing with the line of figurative work and a little bit of surrealism makes it all more fun.

How do you create characters, what inspires them, how do you use color?

I think I draw inspiration from my everyday life a lot. Going on walks I often see people and I think ‘huh they’d be fun to draw’ and then probably forget (I'm very bad at keeping a sketchbook) but I do think parts of people I see, colors I see on the street, on posters, on clothes, really make their way through my subconscious and onto my work 80% of the time. The other portion of the time I am actively looking for inspiration, I try to stay away from instagram and other social media in order to do so because I think sometimes the nature of the algorithm is overwhelming and only pushes very specific aesthetics. My way to combat algorithm lethargy is to look through printed matter, either by going to the archive or going to a bookstore and buying some magazines that look interesting to me.

If you had to pick a favorite project, which one are you most proud of and why?

I really love the recurring work I've gotten to do for Colorama Workshop, a Riso printing studio / publisher here in Berlin. I’ve been working with them for a few years now and have gotten to design posters, animated reels, fun character illustrations and soooo many assets over the years. It’s been really fun to see my work circling around the city and it’s also been such a pleasure to work with such a community minded project.

What’s next for you?

I hope to continue freelancing and also continue to get more fun and interesting gigs. I also started a clothing and screen printing project that I hope will grow a bit more in the next year as well. I have really enjoyed making work that is more ‘off screen’ and organizing fun pop-ups where the Berlin creative community can meet and support one another in a physical space.

Rapid Fire Round!

Weekend - lounge in bed / go out and party?

Hybrid! I love both, some weekends I'm a total couch potato and other weekends I love going out to dance / shows.

Coffee or tea?


Cats or dogs?

Dogs definitely

Favorite season?


Cinema or Netflix?


Pool or beach?

Beach 100%

Computer or sketchbook?

Computer, unfortunately

Text or voice note?

Voice note

City or countryside?

City mostly, countryside for a couple weeks out of the year

Getting dressed: colorful or monochromatic?

Monochromatic with a pop of color ;)

Thank you Pamela!




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