Serene Kitchen is an adventure illustrator with a unique style of capturing and sharing her microadventures. But who is this elusive scribbler? What puts the spring in her step and the lead in her pencil? Here’s an interview to answer these burning questions…

Can you provide a quick background of who you are and what you do?

I’m Serene Lau @serenekitchen, a Melbourne-based illustrator, biology enthusiast and adventurer. My childhood experiences of playing in the jungles of Borneo (where I’m originally from) and obsession with all things animated lead me to this path.

What inspired/inspires you to pursue adventure illustration and story telling?

I started doing adventure illustration mainly because I’m terribly lazy at taking photographs and that it provided a way of me vividly reliving the experience when I draw. It also helps as an artist exercise to rely on your minds eye to truthfully capture a moment filled with emotion and awe…or in some cases annoyance. What I find extremely different when I use adventure illustration to tell stories is that my friends who join me become alive in them every time someone reads it, whilst still remaining fairly anonymous.

What are the projects/pieces you’ve done that you’re most proud of?

The immediate projects that come to mind are my shadow box pieces because they contain taxidermy animal parts that I’ve harvested and prepared from previous microadventures. However that thought is then overtaken by my “Sewer Princesses” series that I’ve worked on for years. Its great to see a concept grow from a sketch to a small series and most recently a solo exhibition. All this because I wanted to show people how their faeces can shape a landscape.

What gear to you use? Do you draw in the wild or when you come back to civilisation?

My number one gear is my backpack! It fits my sleeping bag, cooking utensils, clothes, journal, stationary, tarp and emergency safety bag (this acts as my SWAG if the weather turns sour). I sometimes draw in the wild as a form of meditation in a cold morning when people are still asleep but final illustrations takes place over a span of a week at home or a cafe.

What has been your favourite place to explore and draw so far in Australia?

I truly love exploring and drawing the Yarra River. It is beautiful and a enduring environment that is filled with Australian fauna and variety. Every time I explore it, I can take my time as there isn’t a sense of urgency of getting to a destination that you find on a traditional holiday with limited time and resources.

Do you have a dream destination in Australia that you’d love to experience?

Oooohh…there is just too many! I guess a dream location would be canyoning in the Blue Mountains and getting there by bicycle along the east coast or walking there via the Great Dividing Range.

My drawing skills resemble those of a drunk hippopotamus. For We Are Explorers followers who would like to become an adventure illustrator though, what do you recommend they do?

First find yourself an adventure that’s extremely doable over a weekend such as camping outside your house/local park and do it without a tent! Next invite your favourite people to join you so that you have fun characters to add into your story. Now observe how people are acting though the whole trip, e.g. Sam is moody and gassy, Teo is constantly stalking his friend on Facebook, etc. And yes, this means you as well. At last, draw it out!

Where can our readers find more of your work?

I post all my art on Tumblr but you can also find me on Facebook/Instagram at @serenekitchen.

Interview with an Adventure Illustrator, Serene Kitchen, Henry Brydon, illustration, comic strip, sketch, drawing, graphic


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