Meet the People: Vivian Mineker, Illustrator

By , 02 Jul 2018, 13:19 PM Meet the People
Meet the People: Vivian Mineker, Illustrator All images from Vivian Mineker

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Living in Slovenia, working worldwide. 

June 02, 2018

Where are you from?

When I’m asked this question, I am never able to give a simple one word answer -- So I was born in New York, and when I was two, my parents moved back to Taiwan, where I spent the majority of my childhood. Then when I was about 14 we moved to the States again, this time to Portland, Oregon. I then lived there for about 15 years, attending high school and college, and starting my career. After that I left to do a bit of traveling, and eventually settling down here in Slovenia. Because I feel like both Taiwan and the US have had significant influence on me and who I am, it’s hard for me to say that I’m from one place or the other, so I usually just tell people that I’m from both.

What brought you to Slovenia?

The short answer is that I married a Slovenian. During my travels, after I decided to leave Portland, I met my now-husband while backpacking in Thailand, we immediately hit it off and even though we had to separate for the time being due to different travel plans, we kept in contact for months before I eventually bought a ticket to visit Slovenia. He took me around the country and the region, I fell in love with the place and needlessly to say the person, so I decided to stay. That was a little over two years ago now.

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How did you get into illustration?

I have always been very into drawing and painting as long as I can remember, and I’ve always wanted to work with art in some capacity. When I was little I was really into cartoons, Disney, Looney Toons, Cartoon Network and animé So for the longest time I wanted to become an animator, ideally working for Disney. After high school, I went to the Art Institute of Portland and got a degree in animation. However, after graduation I got sidetracked when I was hired at Nike as an intern (doing animation at first, then transitioning to video editing), and subsequently as a full time employee. It was a great place to work with wonderful people and environment, I was very comfortable there for many years. Then I slowly became dissatisfied with the actual content of my work there, it wasn’t what I wanted to do and I was growing away from art. So eventually I made a decision to quit the job and try my hand at illustration (which fits perfectly with my ideal vision of drawing all day for a living), and that’s where it led me today.

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What are some of your work habits or routines?

I don’t have as much of a routine since I’m usually doing multiple projects at a time, and every project is different that requires a different way of work, but I would say the only habit that I have is that I like to keep my work areas clean. I don’t have a big studio to work in or a whole room just for art, so I would start to feel out of sorts and a bit anxious when things start to pile up or get dirty, I feel like I cannot do my work as efficiently if my work area is a mess.

How do you find work while living in Slovenia?

Because the nature of my work and how this industry works, I do almost all of my work remotely for clients around the world, and that affords me the opportunity to look for work almost solely online. I have a representative/agent that is located in the States, and they find me work through their network of publishers and clients. The rest is pretty much up to my own self-promotion online and on social media.

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What are some of the challenges you faced in moving to Slovenia, and how did you deal with them?

Slovenia has been wonderfully welcoming to me, I have met so many nice people and really feeling the hospitality of this country, so I really have not had a difficult transition. One hurdle I would love to overcome soon is the language -- I took one beginner class when I first came and then have just been too busy with work to take more, and while it’s great that almost everyone here speaks English, I would still like to be able to communicate and get to know more Slovene. And another thing is that sometimes I get homesick, mostly about family and friends I have back in Portland. It has been the furthest away I’ve ever lived from my parents and sister, so sometimes I really miss them. Thankfully now there are video calls, and it makes the distance feel much shorter.

What things do you miss from home?

First, as mentioned before, my family and friends in Portland. I would love to transport them all over here and live happily ever after! When I first came here I also missed my dog very much, he was with my parents back in Portland and I was away from him for more than two years. Then at the beginning of this year I went home and brought him here with me, that’s been a huge help for my homesickness. I also miss the food from both Portland and Taiwan -- mainly just the diversity, as well as some specific dishes (Taiwanese ones). I’m a big fan of food so I really miss that, now whenever I go back to either places, I stuff my face full of food all day long!

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What things in Slovenian would you like to share with people from home?

How beautiful it is! Especially the mountains, I am constantly mesmerized by them. You can see so many high peaks on a clear day and they’re just breathtaking. Back home we have some mountains but nothing like this, there seems to be countless of them and they’re all so high.

I would also like to let people know about the general culture here, I don’t think people in the US know much about Slovenia at all. How it came to be the way it is today as such an interesting confluence of all the surrounding cultures, and emerging with its own unique and complex identity.

Would you encourage a friend to move here?

Yes, definitely if they have the opportunity. It is beautiful and laid back, with plenty of both nature and urban activities, not to mention the wonderful people. It is one of the best hidden gems of Europe.

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Where can people see more of your work?

The best place to see my work is on my Instagram, or on my website vivianmineker.com. I update these two outlets most frequently. I also have a Facebook page.

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