Cuteoshenii, created by illustrator Andra Badea, are characters for the home, in the form of creatures painted on furniture and accessories.
Celeste: First of all, how did you end up painting your characters on furniture?
Andra: As most things in my life it was not a planned move, but a happy circumstance. I was invited by IKEA Romania to paint two dressers, in order for them to be given away as part of a store promotion. That was the first time i had to think about creating something specifically for a furniture piece and i discovered i loved the medium and the possibilities.
Celeste: And the name, Cuteoshenii – what does it mean and where does it come from?
Andra: Believe it or not, i was not the one to come up with this name on purpose :)) I was doing an interview for a visual blog and it was actually the blogger who referred to my illustrations as “cuteoshenii” which is a made up word used in Romanian to mean “all things cute”.I thought it was a perfect match.
Celeste: Tell me about your characters – what is your process for finding your characters and knowing what to paint on an item?
Andra: My characters are born from a mix between a client’s preferences ( favorite pets, symbols, family members, childhood imaginary friends etc) and the function of the household object. For example, i painted a table for a cafe, called Acuarela. I played with the idea of choosing your seat when you have a drink with your friends and added an “icebreaker”: there were three human characters and one quirky piglet. Because, let’s face it, we all have rainy days when we need to stuff our faces with the biggest chocolate cake.
Celeste: Do your characters have stories? Or you planning to put them in a book one day?
Andra:Each character has a story related to the object it’s “occupying” and its owner. The travelling dog that tells adventures stories to its newborn owner, the lazy cat that took over you seat, inviting you enjoy a lazy afternoon etc. I haven’t thought about a book, but you just gave me a great idea, thanks!
Andra: CuteOpuzzle is a very special project for me. It combines my nostalgia for old childhood games that had nothing to do with technology and everything to do with imagination and the core of the cuteoshenii philosophy : there are no rules to playing, there is nothing impossible to the imagination.
That’s why the cuteOpuzzle doesn’t just tell you to recognize the 6 characters but invites you to create new ones in any combination and come up with their stories: PanCat, CrocoPig, PanCroco are just some of them. Also you can put each one in pajamas!
Celeste: Love it! How long did it take you to find success with your illustration style?
Andra:I’m still looking for it : compass, lantern, smoke signals everything :)) I’m kidding but not totally. I had some success and some disappointments and i’m still on this journey for 3 years, since i started cuteoshenii. In Romania, the art scene is small and there is not a lot of support for young artists. That’s why i also started looking elsewhere for collaborations.
Andra:I guess the most important and the hardest to do is to not give up. Even if you haven’t had a break in months, even if your daily job is killing you, even if all your weekends are full. Just keep creating whatever makes you happy, just because it does.
Celeste: Thanks so much for your time – where can people find more information about you?