Friday Finds - Illustrator Ohn Mar Win

Morning! Today's creative Friday Find is illustrator Ohn Mar Win; we haven't met but I have discovered that she and I both did the same art foundation course in Cambridge (although I think Ieft 3 or 4 years before she took it), worked a lot with the same client and both took Lilla Rogers  MATS course last year! I noticed Ohn's gorgeous food illustrations in my Instagram feed and asked her if she would be interviewed. 

©Ohn Mar Win

When did you start your business and why? Did you plan how you started
meticulously or was it almost accidental? 

I've been illustrating since graduating in the late 1990's. At least half my portfolio was printmaking with some editorial and children's books illustration. It was a real mishmash of styles, with pen and ink wax resist and collage. I really had no idea what to expect in the 'real' world, but I soon realised printmaking ( collographs) just wasn't going to get me paid work....I needed a plan B to pay rent.

Did things take off immediately or has it been a slow burn? 

It was with lucky for me that Woodmansterne Cards saw a huge collage I designed based on The 12 Days of Christmas at New Designers in London. This helped me to gain a freelance position at Tigerprint's London studio. I was in the 'Events' department (Christmas, Easter Valentines etc) in those days it meant spray mount and cutting Christmas icons with a scalpel out of actual Pantone paper ( remember we are talking last century!!) Pretty much at the same time my 'Plan B' was paying dividends. It comprised of drawing trendy young people - figure work really for health and beauty, teenage and lifestyle magazines. I also ending up illustrating few books, jigsaw, websites and even advent calendars. It was a very fun time for me and I met some wonderful people during these years. I decided to put illustration on the back burner after the birth of my first child 9 years ago. I did some stock illustration to bring in pocket money and its only been in the last year that I've fully entered the creative field again. Just this year I've managed to have some of my illustrations on olive jar packaging which was wonderful.

© Ohn Mar Win

Do you do your business part time or full time? 

Outwardly it looks like part time with school runs, homework etc but I try very much to fit in drawing or jotting down ideas all hours.

Do you intend to grow your business into something much bigger or are you happy with it as it is and why?

I would love to grow my business into something much bigger. I'm very new to the world of surface pattern/licensing but I could see my foodie images on kitchenwares or stationery. I'd also like to set up a little printmaking workshop at home and maybe sell tea towels - who knows?

Would you say you earn a good living from your work? 

I'm very grateful to earn a good amount from stock illustration which enables be to pursue work for my portfolio. Although there have been lean periods, in the past I've earnt a great living from illustration and enjoyed the rewards.

Which aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

DRAWING - I can spend hours with my dip pen and ink just drawing. It's only recently I've been able to focus on a using my drawings (with self set doodle a day type challenges that I post on Instagram) and turn them into collections...that part takes much longer for me.

©Ohn Mar Win

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were starting your business today? 

I was quite reluctant back in the day to buy a Mac and was maybe slow in catching up with the design programmes. Thankfully we have Skillshare now for quick and easy tutorials on Mac skills.

Are you someone who sets goals regularly or more instinctive? 

I've had a goals book for a couple of years which I compile at the beginning of each year. Its a mixture of short, mid and longer term goals ( eg seeing   Wat) with career, personal and financial aspects too. Most Sundays I right down a quick to do list which I cross out as the week progresses.

Have you ever or do you employ people part time to help with any aspect of your business? For example, book keeper, accountant, packers? If you do, how did you find people who were the right fit for you? 

I have an accountant who I've had for years through recommendation from other designers.

©Ohn Mar Win

Could you describe where you work? Are you alone most of the day or with others? Do you feel that they way it is now is the best fit for you? Do you see that changing?

I work in a home office that I share with my husband although I paint and do messy stuff in the utility room!! If my husband is it home he'll wander in and out but often I work alone. I've become used to the discipline of working from home and it fits around my kids. However I have 'met' a wonderful group of online friends who are hilarious and keep me in good humour with upbeat banter. 

What is a typical day for you in your business as it is now? What would be a dream day for you – business or otherwise?

Typically its a mad dash for the school run. Then I check emails with a morning cuppa then heads down till 3pm when its another school run. Then back to full time mum until the kids are tucked in. I try not to work every evening but sometimes my enthusiasm for a project gets the better of me. My dream day would be drawing the sights & smells & foods of Florence or Tokyo or Marrakesh for a cook book - that probably be a dream week.

©Ohn Mar Win

Anything else you want to add… tips or plans or ambitions or even special offers to my blog readers… 

I'm so very lucky that and grateful that I am paid for what I most enjoy doing which is basically just an extension of drawing and mucking about with nice colours. Even now years down the line I'm still learning and hopefully improving and evolving. It does take time but I know it will be worth the effort.

Finally please tell us where we can buy your work! 

I plan to launch an Etsy shop in the New Year selling prints of my food art.

Thank you so much for finding time to be interviewed Ohn; I think the style you have developed using the Mac is wonderful.


  1. Another interesting interview Gabriella and it is interesting to get an insight into how Ohn works. Ohn's food illustrations are so beautiful.

  2. THANK YOU so much for featuring me on your wonderful blog.

  3. Great interview! I enjoyed hearing Ohn Mar's story and seeing her elegant, delightful work!


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