Christmas is a good time to recall parts of childhood that make you smile. Nostalgia can be bittersweet, however, and it pays to distinguish child-like from childish.
So when local artist and illustrator Tami Boyce tells me she is influenced by the work of Dr. Seuss and the comics of Gary Larson, I smile as I recall childhood memories.
“I’ve always been inspired by that clean, stark, classic style of illustration,” Boyce says. “It sounds silly but I feel like my illustration style hasn’t changed since I was about 5 years old. If someone tells me my art is child-like, I always take it as a compliment. Because art can be funny or lighthearted.”
Boyce takes her art seriously, though. That’s why she includes a big dose of whimsy and cartoon characteristics in her pieces.
Fitting, too, that her initial “eureka” moment came when she decided exactly what type of subjects she would like to see drawn: animals with monocles.
“I drew a ‘Monocle Series’ on Facebook in 2009 and it kind of clicked for me,” she says. “It was very much what I wanted to do. Before that, I thought to be a successful illustrator you have to sell out or only work on what other people want you to. But it was something really pure and fun.”
Boyce majored in commercial graphics at Trident Technical College, focusing on branding strategy and logo work. But once her illustration work starting taking off, she turned to what she loved doing.
“The more I do illustration, the more I realize that it’s my heart,” she says. “And I’m pushing now to make illustration my primary focus.”
Initially, she began illustrating gig posters for local bands. Now her illustrations are featured around Charleston at Theatre 99, EVO and Reform Studios. And, her logo work appears on Frothy Beard Brewing, Vanilla Bean Pastry Company and Terraguard Landscaping.
As a freelancer, she also designs book covers for CreateSpace, Amazon’s self-publishing outlet.
Boyce uses bright colors in her logos and her illustrations are immediately identifiable due to their comic style. Browsing through her work, you see that her art is filled with positivity and playfulness. It makes sense that her next project is a children’s book, inspired by an illustration she completed of a flying octopus.
“My art totally reflects who I am,” Boyce says. “I lacked confidence for so long about my illustration abilities and the children’s book is based on some experiences I’ve had gaining confidence and recognizing the support that I’ve gotten from people.”
By creating what she loves and building on her support system, Boyce is gaining traction as a local illustrator and designer.
Her career is progressing organically, even attracting the attention of a licensing agent in North Carolina. But she hasn’t let the professional element of her business deter the sense of fun in her work.
“Even when I’m professional, I’m still totally ridiculous,” Boyce says with a laugh.
That’s not a bad quality; we could use more art that makes us smile.
Her portfolio can be viewed and prints ordered at www.tamiboyce.com.