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THE DESIGN SKELETON Natasha Lea

The Design Skeleton
The Design Skeleton

The meticulous and striking hand drawn art of illustrator Natasha Lea is garnering more and more attention. Created with Copic Multiliners, black ink, and fine brushes, a piece slightly smaller than A3 takes around 35 hours to complete (she times herself out of curiosity), with the largest illustration from her most recent solo exhibition totalling 116 hours.

Lea says her art style comes from a mix of practice, convenience, and admiration for other artists. “I’ve always been drawn to graphic novels and the old fashioned black and white inked illustrations. I also love pop-surrealism created with oil paints, and I used to paint, however when I was blessed with the arrival of my son DD I found oil painting was too fiddly and very inconvenient. I do plan on experimenting with paint again in the future.”
In terms of inspiration, “The world around me and the people I meet combined with my nostalgic past and the mood I am in are what drive me to create what I do,” says Lea. “Inspiration comes from everywhere at just about any time of the day.”
The name The Design Skeleton covers all of Lea’s creative paths, as well as allowing her to showcase other artists in the mix. “The design skeleton is actually a real term used in design, it’s basically a blueprint of something to be built, like a house for example. With my obsession with animal skeletons and slightly moody illustrations, I thought it was an appropriate use of the term.”
A seamstress by trade who creates vintage frocks and custom wedding gowns, the last 18 months have seen Lea booked with so much illustration work she hasn’t had a lot of time to do much else, but interviewing other artists and featuring them on her site remains close to her heart. “I’ve been focusing on growing The Design Skeleton name within the Perth art world as a name to trust, in terms of creating professional group exhibitions and supporting talented emerging artists. This is something I have been working on also.”
Lovers of Lea’s art are encouraged to contact her for commissions. “I am truly blessed by the following I’ve built up. People come to me with beautiful stories they want captured by my illustrations, such as a new baby coming in to the family, a wedding anniversary, a proposal, or a family portrait. I also have clients wanting massive collaborations of their fantasy ideas and my penmanship.
“The people who contact me most often want a symbolic illustrations that mean a lot to them, and looks like a magical illustration to others. I get quite close to some of the clients that come through—sometimes as I do ask a lot of questions to get the feel right, and stay in contact through the process of the illustration.”
Her illustrations have also been tattooed on people’s bodies a few times. “What a compliment!! Somebody out there wants to have my work on their skin for life to look at every day. It truly is amazing.”
According to Lea, the future is looking bright. “I’ve recently been contacted by Linton and Kay Gallery and am set to be exhibiting there and selling prints for some time in the year. This is exactly the step forward I would love for where I am at with my art right now.”

GILLIAN O’MEAGHER