Beck Feiner has been in the news frequently over the last few years. The illustrator, author and mum of two has garnered nation-wide attention with her first project, Aussie Legends Alphabet, in which she creatively morphed each letter into a culturally significant Australian.
Beck isn't one to shy away from the spotlight, though. Her vibrant, playful illustrations are intended to spark important conversations between adults and kids alike. It's this unconventional approach that landed Beck a four-book publishing deal with Harper Collins.
Beck spoke to us about how her kids inspire her work, becoming more fearless in her career, what she loves about the Surry Hills/Redfern community and the concept behind her next book!
Join us for the opening night of Beck Feiner's exhibition in our gallery space on Friday, 13th September from 6-8pm in support of Bourke Street Public School. Grab your ticket here! Pre-sales are now open.
How did you get into the world of illustration and graphic design?
I have been illustrating ever since I can remember. I used to draw on the walls, so my parents gave me the underside of the dining table to go crazy on. When I finished school, I thought I needed to have a proper career, so I did a degree in design and spent a long time in the advertising industry. However, after I had my kids, I decided to go back to my true love; illustrating.
What prompted you to create your first book, 'Aussie Legends Alphabet'?
When I started to help my four-year-old son Levi learn his letters, I tried to find a cool alphabet poster to inspire and educate him. What I found was the typical sweet but bland fare. I just felt like "A is for apple, and B is for banana" was a bit boring. As a result, I decided to make my own by creatively morphing each letter of the alphabet into a prominent, iconic Aussie, to help Levi understand the very diverse mix of people who make our nation so amazing.
When I posted it on social, my friends loved it and encouraged me to sell it. It ended up going quite viral, and I was given the opportunity to turn it into a book.
Your second book, 'If I Was Prime Minister,' has been so well-received. How did the idea come about?
Let's be frank - we are at a bit of a political low in Australia and globally. We thought that kids could do a better job running our country. We started chatting with our kids and friends' kids about what they would do if they were PM, and we were amazed at the ideas they came up with. Far more original than us adults. We decided this would be a fantastic book to encourage kids to get interested in politics at an earlier age.
What do you love about the Redfern and Surry Hills community?
This community is so unique. It's like growing up in the '50s/'60s where neighbours become your very good friends, and kids play together in the lane behind the houses. I never want to move!
What has motherhood taught you so far?
My career took off when I had kids. I thought it was going to be the opposite. It is tough to juggle kids and work, but motherhood has taught me to be more fearless. I am not so worried about what people think. I reckon after you go through childbirth, it makes you realise, "well any challenges ahead couldn't possibly be more full-on than childbirth!"
What do you do or where do you go to find inspiration?
I get inspired by reading/watching the news and current affairs. I see these huge, unjust events happening in Australia and around the world, and it inspires me to make pieces of art to challenge them.
Which illustrators or graphic designers do you admire?
How do you incorporate small moments of self-care into your daily life?
It's a constant struggle, but I try to exercise daily. It gets me up from my desk and gets the happy endorphins going. I love to read novels, and I also think sleep is so important, which is a challenge when tiny people keep trying to sneak into your bed.
What are your top three book recommendations of the moment?
'Boy Swallows Universe,' 'Pachinko' and 'City of Girls'.
What are you working on at the moment?
Our new kids' book (co-created with my husband Robin Feiner), 'My Folks Grew up in the '80s', is coming out in September. It's a stroll down memory lane for the kids who grew up then (aka ME), and a hilarious chance to share the decade's downright weirdness with a whole new generation.
Then we are about to start on our fourth book. These are always massive projects which nearly kill me, but I still reckon I have the best job in the world.