Artist in res­i­dence

Rover’s re­turn Af­ter years on the move, the Aus­tralian il­lus­tra­tor has set­tled down in a Mel­bourne stu­dio filled with books and cu­rios

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Rov­ina Cai’s Mel­bourne stu­dio is filled with books and cu­rios.

Over the past few years I’ve moved around a lot, and have only re­cently re­turned to Mel­bourne and set up a stu­dio. It’s nice to have a ded­i­cated space to work in, in­stead of paint­ing on a kitchen bench or on my bed!

I wanted to fill the space with things that in­spire me: from books and im­ages to cu­rios I’ve picked up from my trav­els. I like to be sur­rounded by things that I find beau­ti­ful, be­cause it helps me get in the zone when I’m work­ing. A space doesn’t feel right to me un­less there’s a bit of clut­ter. I tend to be a hoarder and like to keep things. You never know when a piece of card­board or some rib­bon might come in handy, whether it’s for a ref­er­ence photo or a crazy craft pro­ject.

My work process in­volves draw­ing tra­di­tion­ally and colour­ing dig­i­tally in Photoshop. As such, I have two work spa­ces: one desk for com­puter work and gen­eral tasks, and an­other desk for draw­ing. I’m of­ten dis­tracted by shiny things on the in­ter­net, so it helps to work in a sep­a­rate, com­puter-free zone when I need to con­cen­trate on a draw­ing.

I’m still try­ing to fig­ure out a good sched­ule to stick to. I love get­ting up early and know­ing that there’s a long day

stretched out be­fore me. But I’m also a night owl, and love work­ing when I know that no one is around to bother me. That’s why I work late nights and on week­ends. I tend to switch be­tween get­ting up very early and stay­ing up so late that it’s early. Rov­ina is an il­lus­tra­tor cre­at­ing evoca­tive im­ages rooted in con­cep­tual ideas. Her clients in­clude, Riot Games and The Fo­lio So­ci­ety. See more at www.rov­

This shelf holds draw­ing tools and var­i­ous dec­o­ra­tive bits and pieces. I like to change th­ese around once in a while. I’ve be­gun col­lect­ing small orig­i­nal art­work. There’s some­thing mag­i­cal about an orig­i­nal work that a re­pro­duc­tion can never cap­ture. Some­how I seem to be ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a teacup and teapot col­lec­tion. First there was one and now I have stacks of teacups scat­tered through­out my stu­dio. I use this ta­ble for book­bind­ing and other crafty projects. It’s also a no-com­puter space that I use when I need to con­cen­trate on a draw­ing.

I have an eclec­tic mix of books for in­spi­ra­tion, from pic­ture books to cos­tume ref­er­ences to po­etry an­tholo­gies. I think it’s im­por­tant to have a good va­ri­ety of books to dip into for in­spi­ra­tion, and not just art books. This is my main work area where I carry out most of my dig­i­tal work, sketch­ing and other day-to-day il­lus­tra­tion tasks. Some work for a gallery show at Krab Jab Stu­dio. I’ve been play­ing with wa­ter­colours lately and I’m happy with the re­sults; it’s fun to play with things like metal­lic pig­ments. Here I’m about to add some dec­o­ra­tion to the mat be­fore fram­ing the piece. I love book de­sign and book­bind­ing, so I have a spe­cial shelf for par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful and un­con­ven­tional books. The hat is a Mad Hat­ter Hat that I made a few years ago for a cos­tume. I’ve used it as ref­er­ence many times. I have a vast col­lec­tion of post­cards and lit­tle trin­kets. When I moved around a lot, I took th­ese things with me, and putting them up in each new lo­ca­tion be­came a lit­tle rit­ual. The post­cards are mostly of art­work from mu­se­ums I’ve vis­ited.

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