Artist spotlight: Pernille Ørum

What is most important to you when designing a character?

It depends on what I’m doing it for. For work, I mostly have a character description and a personality to work with, which also give the best designs in my opinion. Then you build the character up from within, and it’s easier and more fun to explore the design.

It’s another process when I’m designing my own little things for, for instance, MerMay. Then I use personal inspiration from what I see around me — colors and color combinations are my main source of inspiration.

What does your character design process look like?

For my personal work, I often start off with either playing with color combinations or rough sketching an idea. If I know where I’m going with the character, it is all about trying to communicate what I have in my mind.

Sometimes when I don’t have an idea I try to create interesting facial expressions and hand gestures and build a drawing from that. But that’s mostly when I just play around.

How has taking on a month-long challenge like MerMay affected your practice?

It combines two of my favorite things — mermaids and challenging yourself together with others. Last year was the first time I really did it, and it was such an amazing experience. It was fun coming up with different mermaid characters, and in the middle when I was losing momentum there was a good amount of support and a reason to keep going.

I’ve done many of these challenges, and they are the best way to improve your skills. It keeps you drawing every day. You are a part of a community so you don’t do it alone, and it’s easier to get noticed and notice other artists.

Unfortunately, this year I’m not taking fully part in it since I have tons of work and planning a wedding next month — it was just too much.