Artist Interview with Aitch

29 November 2023

Nomadic Aitch originally hails from Romania but prefers not to put down roots in any one place, new scenery inspires and invigorates her tactile, folky illustrations and a constant string of exhibitions in cities across the continent pushes her technique further. Her dreamy characters hide amongst William Morris-esque gardens and bring to mind a bright and bold reincarnation of Victorian charm while still retaining a strong sense of her Romanian heritage.


Tell us a bit about yourself! 

Hey, I’m Heliana and I’ve been painting for about 3 decades. I have also been a part of the CIA illustrators team for almost 10 years!

To whom do you owe your creativity? Are you from an artistic family or the odd one out? 

I think my chaotic childhood is the reason for my creativity - it became an outlet for me and a method for self-soothing, much like meditation. 

We adore your Lush 12 Days of Christmas calendar! Tell us about your creative process… 

The Lush Christmas calendar is a company tradition, they have been doing this for some time now, preparing a beautiful box of goodies inspired by the 12 Days of Christmas carol, the lyrics standing as the actual brief. Guess it was my turn to have fun with it this winter! 

Your artwork has a unique blend of tactile, folky illustrations with a nod to Victorian aesthetics. Can you share some of the artistic influences that have shaped your style and technique? 

My influences are a crazy mix! I would say they are mainly down to the things that made a great impression on me as a kid. For example, hanging out with my grandmas for months on end, one being a traditional carpet weaver in the countryside and the other being a city girl madly obsessed with flowers, tulips and peonies. The hiking trips my dad took me on from when I was three years old, to later in life travelling the world, living here and there and everywhere for a couple of years, taking a special interest in local folk art and the natural history of the places I visit. I’ve been living in the countryside of Italy for the past few months and although I am not religious, I just can’t get enough of their grand churches, illustrated bibles and medieval manuscripts.

Your cover for The Almanac 2024 is utterly bewitching, what’s the secret to creating a compelling book cover do you think? 

In my experience, I have noticed that there's no magic trick or secret formula to make a design look amazing. However, people generally love a design that is visually appealing with an abundance of elements arranged in a symmetrical and clean composition. Just take a look at the cover of the Almanac and many other book covers that I have worked on over the past ten years! 

Your illustrations weave elements from various cultures, including your Romanian heritage. How do you navigate the balance between different cultural influences in your work, and what significance does your heritage hold in your artistic expression?

My technique of choice when working for clients is watercolours and gouache, it's a fast and clean one, but when I work on personal stuff I often enjoy dragging out the process by painting with oil on canvas. 

Your characters often inhabit dreamy landscapes, reminiscent of William Morris-esque gardens, what role does storytelling play in your artwork? 

Being of the melancholic type, whatever I concoct in my spare time comes from a need for introspection and release, I don’t share a lot otherwise and I resort to illustration as a way of storytelling, a sort of clumsy but pretty gathering of symbolisms to make sense of this life.

If you were not an illustrator, what would you be?

Before taking a liking to drawing I used to write a lot but stopped working that muscle at some point a long time ago, I imagine that if I kept going I would have done something in that direction.

What does your current studio look like? 

During wintertime I do my work at the kitchen table, I don’t require much space but I do need the cosiest spot in the house... 

Feeling inspired? Head to Aitch's portfolio now and have a browse! 

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