Cailey Tervo is an illustrator and designer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work is infused with colour, poscas and whacky characters. We saw her work first on Pretty Picture Club alongside one of our other faves, Nicole Cmar.
1. Hi Cailey, tell us a bit about yourself
Sure thing! I’m Cailey Tervo, a designer and illustrator from the Midwest, but currently based in Atlanta, Georgia. I work a design 9-5, and am pursuing illustration during the times in-between! Besides drawing, I’m an avid runner and dungeon and dragon-er.
2. What’s your work process like? What materials do you use? Are poscas your favourite pens?
When I’m working in my sketchbook, I usually start with a light pencil sketch, before diving right into color blocking using posca pens (which, yes are totally my favorite). I like my work to be shape based and feel very organic; I’ve never been super into having a super refined sketch. From there I just keep blocking out shapes of colors, let them dry for a bit, then go in with a smaller pen for details!
3. Do you listen to or watch anything while you work? Podcasts, music, TV?
I listen to a lot of musicals while I work! When I was younger, I really wanted to be a musical theatre actress, but didn’t have the voice for it. So I decided to be an illustrator instead! Right now I’m really into the musical “Hadestown”, which is a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth with a jazzy twist.
4. Talk us through a typical day in your life.
On an ideal day of productivity, I wake up around 6:30 and go for a run before work. I commute to the office in my car and work from 9-5. I try to go for a walk during lunch, and am able to get a lot of sketchbook doodles in while I work.
I usually wrap up work around 5/5:30; go to the fitness center nearby for a little bit to avoid the worst of the traffic, before heading home around 6:30. I eat dinner with my roommates, who are also illustrators, then try to work on my own projects or any freelance stuff from the hours of 8-10. Then I’m boring and try to get to bed early!
On less productive days, I still try to get some exercise in, but I might spend my evenings just playing video games or hanging with some friends!
5. What’s up in Atlanta? Where would you take us on a fun day there?
My favorite place to go is Oakland Cemetery, which is a historic cemetery in the center of town. They offer guided tours and other cool events during the weekends! It’s also a cool place to just walk around. I don’t find it spooky at all; it acts more like a park than an active graveyard.
I mentioned musicals earlier; there’s a ton of great theaters in the city that are constantly putting on great shows. I saw “Ride the Cyclone” at the Alliance Theater last month, which is about a group of teens who die on a roller coaster, and now must prove their case to come back to life. It was so good!
There’s lots of good food and live music here, too! East Atlanta Village and Little 5 Points are two cool neighborhoods that have lots of stuff going on. My favorite place to eat here, though, is Yeah Burger. And that’s mainly because their branding and signage was designed by one of my favorite design agencies, the Carpenter Collective.
6. Whose work are you admiring at the moment? Anyone/thing you want to big up?
I’ve been obsessed with illustrator JooHee Yoon’s work! Her use of textures and weird shapes are so inspiring to me. She’s really not afraid of pushing her expressions and characters to be a little ugly; but still super charming!
7. Do you have any tips for budding illustrators for getting your work out there? What’s worked best for you?
It’s a tricky environment right now; the algorithms on social media are hard to work around. I’d say the best way to get your work out there, besides just posting as often as you can, is to try and network with other illustrators near you. I’d also recommend connecting with other artists who work outside of visual mediums; I’ve been connecting with more musicians lately and it’s been really inspiring to learn about their process.
For me, in terms of just putting my work out there, I’ve had the best luck in creating my own personal pieces that are based on something personal to me. There are lots of illustrators out there, and the best way to make work that stands out from the crowd is to make work that only you have the experience and knowledge to make.
8. What are you currently working on? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?
I’m illustrating a few freelance kids book projects right now, but I have my own kids book that I’ve been working on for a few years that I’m hoping to be able to show more of by the end of the year! It’s a book about a witch school, and a little witch who decides that it’s a bit too glum for her tastes, and decides to try and spruce it up.