A gifted illustrator tells us what it’s like to be a rising Instagram artist, how to draw people, and tips on pursuing a future in art. Introducing 16-year-old Luka Reardon from Christchurch.

What are you up to at the moment?

I recently just finished working on several gouache paintings to be exhibited at the Bounce Youth Art Expo event at CoCA Gallery on the 8th! Preparing for that has been pretty time-consuming, but once the event is finished I’m hoping to get back into my usual workflow.

How did you get into illustrating? What inspired you?

When I was about 14, I grew an interest in 3D and 2D animated films and series, in both Western and Japanese animation. 14 year old me started to draw fan-art of my favourite animated characters until I wanted to create my own, and it just grew from there!

How would you describe your art style?

I would probably describe it as pretty cartoony, perhaps with some 2D Dreamworks animation influences?

What’s in your art kit? What tools do you usually use?

I’ll usually just use whatever I can find lying around, but here are some of my favourite tools;

  • My trusty Palomino Blackwing pencil
  • Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils in phthalo blue and deep scarlet
  • Sakura Micron fineliners for linework
  • A 0.5 mm mechanical pencil with 2B Pentel lead
  • A little pocket set of Pebeo watercolours, which I use with a cheap water brush pen
  • Reeves gouache paint, which I usually put inside my watercolour tin for convenience
  • An Elements of Art sketchbook, currently one of my favourites because of its incredibly smooth paper!

That’s about it for what I usually carry around with me, but when I’m working digitally I use a small blue Wacom Intuos Art with either Clip Studio Paint or Paint tool SAI!

I’ve had a look at some of your work, and you’re so good with drawing people… hands, facial expressions, like, woah. Drawing people is said to be one of the most difficult things to master as an artist. Do you have any tips about drawing people?

Thank you! The best tip I have would have to be study realism! Ideally, draw people from real life rather than pictures, but there are just about unlimited resources on the internet for studying anatomy and facial expressions! It’s great to do master studies too if you get tired of drawing from photos!

You’ve got quite a lot of followers on Instagram – almost 1000! What is it like to know that so many people support what you’re doing?

It’s absolutely insane! I never imagined that so many people would even look at my stuff, let alone want to see more!

Do you have a particular piece that you are particularly proud of?

I don’t really have anything in particular, but any of my drawings that have won competitions or gotten into events I’m usually happy with, even if I don’t like them beforehand!

Who are your favourite artists?

Now that’s a list that could go on forever! To pick just a few Instagram names; @phobso, @star_bite, @guweiz, @elentori, @siobhanchiffon, @ghostsofcrows and @davemalanart are all absolutely amazing!

Is there something that you particularly hate drawing?

LEGS. Mainly due to me habitually only drawing torsos and faces. I believe it’s a sign that I need to practise anatomy more.

Would you ever want to exhibit your work anywhere beyond Instagram and online? If so, where would your dream exhibition be? Or perhaps you’d like to publish your work somewhere?

To be honest, I want to exhibit my stuff everywhere I possibly can! It’s an awesome thing to see your hard work is appreciated by people other than your friends and family (although that’s great too!). I would love to publish a comic or graphic novel in the future, but I don’t really have any inspiration for it yet!

Where do you hope to see yourself in the future?

At the moment I’m hoping to study animation and concept art, so I can work on awesome things like video game development and films in the future!

Any advice for other young people out there wanting to get into illustrating or art?

My advice would be to be persistent! If there’s something you hate drawing and try to avoid, then go practise it now! Most things are hard to practise, but study realism and keep at it! You’ll improve for certain.


Get inspired and check out Luka’s Instagram @venemint – this gal is going places!

Any artists you’d love to know more about? Let us know by emailing [email protected].


 MARIE YSABEL LANDINGIN is known by many names, from childhood nicknames to a certain tropical fruit. She has a massive list of things to do, but should probably get some sleep first. An open-minded urban planning student aspiring to somehow change the world for the better.