Catalog product

VisArts Illustrator-in-Residence Oura Sananikone on This Season’s Class Catalog and What Drives Her Work

The Richmond Visual Arts Center (VisArts), one of the region’s leading arts organizations, offering over 1,000 visual and creative arts classes in clay, wood, fiber, painting, photography and more, is preparing to launch its winter catalog of Classes. This winter, more than 250 art classes for adults, youth and families will be offered to members and the public. This season, the center offers over 75 new classes scheduled in a variety of media.

Each year, VisArts selects four artists to serve as illustrators in residence. Each artist illustrates a catalog and is invited to lead a workshop on the theme of their choice. The winter 2023 catalog was illustrated by Oura Sananikone. Oura’s work includes (but is not limited to) painting, comics, zines, action figures, plush art, animation, and music.

He has exhibited all over Richmond and currently works at Oddballs Collectibles and Velocity Comics as well as his Wireless Artist Shop. Oura graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000.

Our conversation with Oura about what inspires and drives her work, as well as her creative process, follows below.

What made you want to start illustrating?

I never really considered myself an “illustrator”, which is funny because I’ve had more illustration work than I thought. Ever since I was a kid, all I ever wanted to do was make art all the time. My grandmother was a great inspiration. She was constantly doing these beautiful watercolors and inks of Lao life. I guess, in a way, she showed me the virtues of hard work and respecting your personal vision.

What inspires your work?

Sometimes I feel like everything I see inspires or influences me in some way: comics, cartoons, zines, other people’s sketchbooks, travels to museums or galleries, street art, fashion, toys, packaging design, trash near a dumpster, video games, and that new art made by artificial intelligence.

How did you get involved in (or find out about) the Featured Illustrator program at VisArts?

I’ve been secretly wanting to illustrate a VisArts class catalog for a while, and when i saw the app for it, I had to at least try. I’m so glad I did!

Describe your creative process.

My artistic creation process is quite irregular, it seems. Sometimes I do sketches and thumbnails, but there are times when the image I had in mind comes out completely formed. If I get stuck, I usually do a Google search, which helps me find different poses or compositions. I usually sit on my couch with my iPad late at night when my family is sleeping.

What was the inspiration behind the design of the Winter 2022 catalog?

It’s funny that I mentioned AI art before, but I guess subconsciously I thought of it when brainstorming for the catalog. I’d like to think my bots are a bit more soulful, but who’s to say? Also, I just like to draw robots.
What past projects are you most proud of? Do you have any exciting upcoming projects?

I’m thrilled to finally be making packs of my own trading cards. I thought about it for a long time and realized that there was nothing stopping me from doing everything myself. It’s been a lot of work, and I’m definitely still learning, but they look pretty good.

What classes/workshops (if any) will you be teaching at VisArts this winter?

I hope to teach my One Screen screen printing course Endless Possibilities again. It’s always a fun time and I’m always inspired by what other people bring to the table.

Members of the Richmond Visual Arts Center can register for winter classes starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 9. Registration opens to the general public at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, November 16. Members can register online, by phone or at the VisArts reception. For more information on how to become a member of VisArts, visit the membership page.

Will you help support independent and local journalism?

We need your help. RVAHub is a small, independent publication, and we depend on our readers to help us provide vital community service. If you enjoy our content, would you consider a donation as small as $5? We would be extremely grateful! Interested in advertising your business, organization or event? Get the details here.