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Corina Plamada: ‘the beauty of the little things around me always amazes me’

The bright botanical illustrations of Corina Plamada first came to our attention on Instagram, where the full-time UI/UX designer has set up an illustration account to track and share her progress. After reaching out, she kindly chatted with us about her process, her fascination with plants and what she likes most about Affinity Designer.
Corina, could you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today?

I currently work as a full-time UI/UX designer and illustrate in my free time. I have always been surrounded by creative and artsy people, so I could say that I’ve loved art since I was young. After graduating from the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca in 2014, I was given the great opportunity to participate in an internship as a UI/UX designer. It was something new for me but I was excited to learn more about it. As I started my career as a UI/UX designer, I wanted to add more creativity to my work, so I started creating small animations and illustrations for my projects. I was quite limited at that time by the illustrations I could do for my UI/UX projects, so I decided to start creating more illustrations for myself in my free time.

Did you always know you wanted to be an illustrator?

Not really, I always wanted to do something art related, but I wasn’t sure what. In college, I worked on many creative projects, including jewellery, accessories, ceramics, branding, and illustrations, all of which I found exciting. My actual love for illustration began in 2019 when I decided to start an Instagram illustration account. It was a really great way for me to track my progress and keep my motivation.

Plants are a re-occurring theme in your work. What is it about them that inspires you?

The beauty of the little things all around me always amazes me. I suppose my fascination for plants first began as a result of my passion for taking pictures of the wonderful colours and details of the plants around me. When you appreciate and pay attention to the world around you, inspiration comes easily.

“When you appreciate and pay attention to the world around you, inspiration comes easily.”

When you start a new illustration, what is your usual process?

I actually don’t have an ideal process. It also depends on whether the illustration is for myself or for a commission. For my personal illustrations, sometimes I take the time to sketch on paper, but most of the time I just pick up my iPad and begin working directly on the digital version. Usually, I start off with an idea in mind and hunt for sources of inspiration, such as plants, people, textures, and sceneries. I often use my own images as inspiration for plants, and I use Pinterest for everything else. I think Pinterest is a terrific tool for finding excellent ideas and saving them in various folders. Once I have everything, I begin the illustration. Often, I don’t need to make a sketch because I already know how I want it to look.

When did you start using Affinity Designer, and what are your thoughts on it? Do you have any favourite features?

I started using Affinity Designer at the beginning of 2022. I used other apps before, but I always struggled with resizing and reusing elements, so when I found Affinity Designer, it was the perfect tool for me. I love being able to combine vector with raster. It’s super intuitive and I find it easy to use. I don’t currently have a favourite feature because I’m still learning and experimenting with it, but so far I really enjoy it.

We love your use of colour. How do you go about choosing colour palettes for your illustrations?

My colour palette is the one I created when I first started in 2019. I took my time choosing the colours back then that I loved and that worked well together, and I’ve basically kept to them ever since. Finding the right ones wasn’t too difficult for me because I love to use vibrant colours and bold accents in my illustrations. I sometimes occasionally struggle with how to mix them and pick a final version, but if I can’t decide, I just keep all the versions.

“I love to use vibrant colours and bold accents in my illustrations.”

We noticed that you regularly participate in creative challenges. How do you feel this benefits your work, and how do you decide which ones to take part in?

For me, the decision to create an illustration account on Instagram was a great one. Even though it began as a personal journey to track my progress and keep me motivated, I became more engaged once I discovered the art community and realised how many amazing and creative people there are. I believe that by participating in these creative challenges, I can interact with others and discover more people who have similar interests to mine. I usually participate when I have some free time, and I often look for challenges where I can include plants, haha.

Is there an illustration or project that you are particularly proud of? Could you tell us about it?

I’ve loved working on all of my projects so far, but the 36 Days of Type project from 2021 is perhaps the one I’m most proud of. I’m quite happy that I was able to maintain my motivation to complete an illustration for each day of the challenge, even though I only made the letters.

Do you have any creative goals for the year ahead? Is there anything specific you would like to achieve?

I hope that this is the year I finally get to create my own website because I’ve wanted to do it for a very long time. Apart from that, I want to participate in the 36 Days of Type challenge again because I missed it last year, and to enjoy and have fun with all of my upcoming projects and surround myself with amazing, talented people.

Finally, if you could go back and tell yourself one top tip or piece of advice as you started your creative career, what would it be and why?

I would definitely encourage myself to start this journey much earlier if I could go back in time. Saying yes to the right opportunity at the right time is important, in my opinion. Aside from this, I’m pretty happy with my progress so far.

You can find more of Corina’s illustrations on Instagram, Behance and dribbble.

Spotlight editor

As editor of Affinity Spotlight Melanie oversees the stories, interviews and tutorials published on the site. Outside of work she enjoys travelling, reading crime thrillers, Pilates and dabbling in a spot of oil painting. Get in touch with Melanie if you would like to contribute or be featured on Affinity Spotlight.

Credits & Footnotes

All images copyright © of Corina Plamada and used with permission.