I came across Miss Degnan on a late night tumblr search for all-things “Moonrise Kingdom”. I eventually made it all the way to her Etsy (US) page and website portfolio. Her small-scale drawings of peoples and puppies and mermaids are sweet, abstract and covered in teeny, weeny details. Let’s find out a little more about her personal plans and creative process…
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? Where are you meow?
My name is Mai Ly Degnan, and I am a freelance illustrator originally from a tiny town in Florida, and now currently living in Baltimore, MD. Much of my work is inspired by humor, relationships, childhood nostalgia, and awkwardness. I enjoy finding ways to create humorous illustrations using overly angsty stylized characters in everyday situations.
When did you start building a business from your illustrations? What inspired that?
My business is a constant growing process. I guess it started during undergrad, where I studied illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design. A few years later, I was accepted into the MFA Illustration Practice program at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Being accepted into this program was a godsend and it was here especially that I began to find a focus within my work. The way the program was structured allowed for a lot of self analysis which in turn, lead me into thinking of new ways to apply my illustration and build my work as a brand. Within the past two years, aside from freelancing, much of my focus has now been on greeting card and illustrated gift design.
My studio space is located in a nook in my apartment that is occasionally organized…but for the most part, pretty all over the place. Amongst the chaos, my studio consists of a large desk, a computer, a scanner for hand drawings, and a printer for greeting cards and individual prints.
What are your favorite art supplies?
I feel strangely accomplished when drawing something really small, tedious, and overly patterned. Thus, my favorite art supply would have to be a .005 micron pen and pencil. It’s the only tool I draw with.
A long term dream would be to one day have an actual store front and studio creating illustrated goods. My more immediate goals would to write and publish a children’s book, do a pattern line, and to get my greeting cards and prints into as many stores as I can. I’ve recently started reaching out to a number of stockists this year and so far, much of the feedback has been really positive.
I work best caffeinated and with bad television. I really enjoy meaningless background noise when I work, so the trashier the tv show, the better. When I am in a serious rut, I put on a movie that I’ve seen a million times. My go to is usually Buffalo 66.
I absolutely love collaborating. Red Cap Cards would be a dream collaboration for sure. Their company showcases some of my favorite illustrators, and their card designs are always so thoughtful and clever. They are always the greeting cards I gravitate towards first when in a store.
What makes you happiest in life?