Freelance illustrator, Cleonique Hilsaca’s work exudes a sense of calm created by washing the canvas with pastel colours. Viewers can’t help but be disarmed by her joyful, round characters yet Cleonique is not afraid to employ these same techniques to address deeper emotions and social issues. This juxtaposition between style and tone is used to great effect. Cleonique shares her drawing process and some of her favourite projects with Illustrator’s Lounge.
I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where I lived until I went to college in the United States. Since then I’ve been US-based and now reside in Savannah, GA. I have lived in the mountains my whole life and a small town, as beautiful as this one, seems like the best place to be.
I grew up enjoying different artistic hobbies such as piano, poetry, drawing, painting and singing but after attending a college career fair, I realised I could also study art for a living. The college that visited was the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) and it was my dream to attend it. After receiving the Presidential Scholarship I attended SCAD and graduated with a B.F.A. in Illustration and a minor in Graphic Design, a few years later. And now I am pursuing a freelance illustration career.
Right after I graduated, I was fortunate to have been picked up by the Illozoo Illustration Agency. I also had an internship that summer with Wild Apple Licensing which also became my agent for art licensing afterwards. Some of my favourite clients I’ve been fortunate to work with this year have been the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, who always pushes me to try my hardest at idea creation, and Amazon Rapids, who lets me explore different styles with their children’s short stories. But my most notable project is having created the inside cover for one of the chapters in the comic book Spera: Ascension of the Starless Vol. 2 by Josh Tierney and published by Archaia. I’ve been reading the Spera series from the start and it was a dream to be a part of it. Some of my favourite personal pieces have been the ones I’ve created for Light Grey Art Lab and their group shows, as well as personal mini endeavours such as Inktober and 30 Days of Type.
I used to work traditionally in watercolour and ink, but I currently work digitally. I start my process in my drawing sketchbook with idea creation, and move forward to my Wacom Cintiq. I work purely in Adobe Photoshop, using Kyle’s watercolour brushes to recreate watercolour digitally. In my free time away from client and personal work, I draw constantly in my sketchbooks where I use ink and watercolour to help inform my digital work. I hope to work traditionally more often this year. What is most important to me about my work is learning and enjoying myself while doing it, and so far I’m having a grand time!