Creator Spotlight with Illustration Artist Monica Bond

Monica Bond

Monica Bond is a New York-based illustration artist, working with both analog and digital techniques to create art from the soul. In each piece she emphasizes the message, “this moment is your life.” Her passion for creating art became the driving force of her own life when she discovered that the artistic process itself brought her purpose and peace. Monica grew up between Milan and New York, went to college in Rome and now lives outside New York City with her husband and three daughters.

About Ciao Zen: Ciao Zen is a web collection of writings and art, where the emphasis for the visitor is to find balance via creating. The site displays a gallery of my artwork, articles, and illustrations from recent magazine work, art projects for everyone to create with their own materials, and a shop to buy clothing and gifts. Follow Ciao Zen on Instagram @ciao.zen.

What was the inspiration behind becoming a creator?  

I am an avid believer that only this current moment is our life, which is why I created Ciao Zen. These passing reflections, channeled through creating, help me find and maintain my balance. I would like Ciao Zen to lead as a source of encouragement to find solace in reflection and moving beyond self-imposed walls in our lives.

Further, what helped shape my inspiration to become a creator is that I grew up between the United States and Italy, traveling back and forth numerous times a year, splitting time between families, cultures, and friends. Since my stay in both places was never permanent, friend groups were harder to form, and long-lasting relationships were difficult to develop. This constant change and sense of misplacement forced me to be best friends with myself – to enjoy my own company so much, that the company of others would be an added plus, but never expected. This sense of solitude that filled my days developed a curiosity towards the human condition of which I constantly sought answers. I would sit and watch people and how they interacted with one another. I tried to understand the hurt and pain that humans felt, and yearned to find similarities in the underlying cause of it all. Through this inward traveling, I concluded that there are common threads of human nature that link us in a way that dissipates loneliness. There is a magic in the interconnected nature of it all, and these commonalities connect us to people we have never met. I’d like Ciao Zen to be a reminder that the magic isn’t in the big moments that we anticipate as life changing, but is actually in the small things, in the acts that we least expect have the ability to change us. My hope is that the art moves the viewer to feel less alone in what they think and feel.

What do you enjoy most about the creative process? 

What I enjoy most about the creative process is the way it makes me feel. Being in a flow state, I feel most connected to the now, letting any anxieties I have melt away, no longer worrying about once was or will be. Creating something—anything—grounds my day and fills it with a sense of purpose that can’t be reached for me in any other way. Any time I have allocated for creating always feels like a gift and I make sure to constantly remind myself that I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love on a daily basis.

Can you talk through your creative process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money? 

I usually start a piece with a concept, such as solitude, mental determination, or inner peace, and let it guide the creative vision. After brainstorming with some layouts, I start drawing (on my Ipad Pro with Procreate and/or Illustrator) and then incorporate analog pieces I may have like textures, old photos, etc. I generally stick to more or less the same color palette (darker earthier tones), so the colors are usually easy to choose! I then export the artwork and make them available for purchase in my online shop. I would say everything I make has the potential to make money, but not everything does. Client work like posters, logos, and artwork usually follows the same process except more in line with their creative brief and that they then own exclusive rights to the work. Each piece I make can range from a day’s work to a week – it really depends on the complexity of the vision and how much uninterrupted time I’m able to allocate to the work daily.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about your line of work? 

I think because of the varying price ranges of graphic work, people seem to want to underpay for the services, often from confusion as to how much work goes into each piece. Graphic art and design is a profession that takes a lot of practice and dedication and should be treated as so. My work is my passion and something I love deeply, and my all is put into every single piece I create. So when a client gives a low offer for a pitch and won’t meet me where I feel is fair, it is hard to accept the position at an underpaid rate. Yes, you can always find someone less expensive, but when you choose an artist you choose them for who they are and what they represent, and that to me is worth everything.

What do you do when you encounter someone stealing something you’ve invested your intellect, time and money into? 

Almost everything I create is shared on Instagram and open to a whole unknown world of scrutiny and copyright-related challenges. People who copy your art are in a difficult place, as they are struggling to find their own voice and manifest their own vision, and should realize that sharing their own vision is much greater than taking work from another artist.

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