Interview with Artist Brooke Weeber
Brooke Weeber is the fantastic local artist who drew the cityscape of Portland featured on our Portland Collection. We got the chance to ask her more about her charming Pacific Northwest-inspired illustrations!
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Oregon, primarily in Eugene and Salem. I went to college at the University of Oregon and got my BFA in oil painting. When I figured out that I wouldn’t be able get a job in my field, I moved to New York City to pursue a career as a Pastry Chef and enrolled at the French Culinary Institute.
How did you end up becoming an artist?
I was raised by a family who used art making as a wonderful way to pass the time and an important way to show personal creativity, so I grew up drawing and painting and quickly developed an interest in art. I realized in high school that there was nothing else I’d rather pursue, so I followed that path to the art program at the University of Oregon. I so often doubted my abilities when I was in college, constantly comparing myself to other students with more technical skill. It took me separating myself from the institution to really discover my own unique style and to be confident with my work.
What kind illustrations do you usually make? How would you describe your signature style and how did you develop it?
I make charming and whimsical watercolor illustrations that explore nature and human relationships. Sometimes they’re lighthearted and comical and other times they’re wrought with meaning. I developed my style through life experience. I’ve always been a bit of a doodler. I have stacks of sketchbooks that I’ve drawn hundreds of characters in over the years, but it’s taken a lot of development and practice to get where I am now. I take a lot of cues from my environment and I love the addition of animal personalities to my work.
What inspires or influences you the most?
I’m very inspired by the art community that I’ve found myself in. Whether it’s in Portland or online, I’ve found a lot of very supportive friends and colleagues who are there to encourage and guide you. I’m constantly amazed at the variety of art that these people are making nowadays and I’m so thankful that I have the power to see it all by merely clicking a button on the computer! I think that alone is completely incredible.
What is your favorite thing to draw? Which is your favorite piece?
My favorite thing to draw is this girl (who somewhat resembles me) and her long and flowing hair that’s always getting into things or causing trouble. I love painting each strand of hair this way because I’m attracted to repetitive pattern and enjoy the therapeutic nature of it. My favorite piece at the moment is Twisted Sister (seen below).
What are your favorite places in Portland?
I have so many favorite spots in Portland it’s hard to just pick a few! But places that stick out are the Japanese Garden (so beautiful year-round), Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens, any food cart, the Springwater Trail, and my little art studio.
Why do you love living in Portland?
I love living in Portland because it’s such a fantastic city! The quality of life here is so great. I can afford to do what I love for a living and still pay my rent. It’s a beautiful place that encourages forward thinking and still supports the arts and small businesses. I’m thankful that I can easily get out into nature without even leaving the city. It’s such a special place and there’s so much more I have yet to explore. I’m completely smitten!
What is your favorite part of being an artist?
My favorite part of being an artist is the reaction I get from the customers. It’s so satisfying when someone finds a special relationship to something that I’ve made. It warms my heart to hear personal stories and to see people laugh or smile when they encounter one of my pieces. I also love being able to do something creative nearly every day.
What are you working on right now?