Today we’d like to introduce you to Heidi Moreno.
Heidi, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As most artists, I have been drawing since I was just a kid. I loved drawing. I remember drawing animals for my friends and making crayon drawings for my teachers. I would write stories and illustrate them, staple the papers and make books for show-and-tell. I was known for being quiet but also for drawing. This continued all the way through high school. I think high school is when I unleashed my creativity and really dove in deep into painting. I painted endlessly with little or no doubts about what I created. Looking back, I envy the confidence I had then! I didn’t end up going to art school because I couldn’t afford it. So, I ended up majoring in the next art that I loved: reading. I received my Bachelor of Arts in English in 2013. I struggled to look for jobs and when I finally did get hired I hated all the jobs because people can be pretty nasty. During those three jobs, I ended up being diagnosed with anxiety/depression. This is when I felt like I needed to wake up and stop pushing art away from my life. Learning about my anxiety was one of my worst memories and yet it was the best opportunity. This was the time that I began to draw more. I started to see art as more than a hobby.
The fall of 2016, it finally occurred to me that I wanted to be an illustrator.
I read all about my favorite illustrators and how they became who they are today. I wanted to create everything and started trying out different products. I designed patterns for fun. Later, I used these patterns to design fabrics. My mother-in-law taught me how to use a sewing machine and I started sewing makeup pouches and totes and other fun stuff. I created my own brooch pins out of clay and made keychains and more. Every day, I worked harder and harder. I remember on new year’s eve in 2016 taking photos of my new products for my etsy shop all the way through midnight! I was crazier in 2017 and continued to work harder and figure out what products worked for Heidiroo. I started having pop up shops around Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Orange County. I had freelance illustration client projects and it just felt so surreal! I started seeing a life coach last fall which really helped to set a focus on my major goals. This lead me to finally become a full-time freelance illustrator in the spring of 2018.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Some of the struggles were just trying to find what it was exactly what I wanted to create. I love creating with my hands naturally so it was difficult to just focus on one thing at a time. I started to feel really lost when I was sewing pouches and trying to come up with the next thing. I think especially when you’re starting out, you should start out with less and see what works from there. Move on and pivot as you need to, otherwise, it can get overwhelming. For me, it felt that way, at least. Ultimately I realized it was an illustration that I was most passionate about. So, I decided to stick with making art prints and greeting cards.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Heidiroo – what should we know?
I am an illustrator and owner of Heidiroo. This means I wear all of the hats which gets overwhelming and crazy. My cat, Peanut is known as my shipping assistant around here. She basically just sits on all my processed envelopes about to go out.
All of my illustrations are painted by hand with different mediums. Most of my work is done with gouache paint and watercolor inks. I have a digital tablet that I use for some greeting card designs, sticker designs and other web stuff. I still prefer my paintbrush over a digital tool. However, I am very curious about trying out Procreate. For now, I paint analog style and photograph it with my Fuji camera (I used to use an iphone to scan my art) and then photoshop it to tweak it back to its original colors. Scanning can really steal away vibrant colors from the original illustration. From there I design greeting cards and art prints which I print myself in my art studio to sell on my online shop.
I opened my Etsy shop HeidirooArt in March of 2014 for fun a year after I graduated. I was between jobs and wanted to keep busy with a side hustle. It was simply a hobby because I didn’t really tend to my shop. It wasn’t until I had bad anxiety and wanted to draw more than I started to pursue my art career. In the fall of 2016, HeidirooArt came back to life and I haven’t looked back!
I think I am most proud of my realization to pursue my passion. I pushed it back for so long and eventually it was impossible. I have always been a cautious person and not very adventurous. That’s why I never considered art as a career until now. Chasing my dream was a huge step for me and I couldn’t be happier now.
What sets me apart from others is I think my versatile style. Some days I want to write an entire graphic novel about a space cat alien, so I’ll draw a vibrant scene from my head and create a print. Other days I just want to draw Halloween characters and use black ink. It all depends on what currently inspires me. But usually, it’s cats. I am most inspired by music, movies, books, and Japan.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My number one cheerleader is my husband. He has been reminding me these last nine years that I’ve known him that art is a part of me. To this day he helps me through the scariest moments when I suddenly realize in the middle of the night, “Oh wow, I’m really my own boss and I don’t know what I’m doing.” He has built bookshelves for my studio, and display signs for my art shows and has attended every show. I am beyond grateful for him.
My two sisters and younger brother have been there this whole time as well. They inspire me in different ways. My older sister is the hardest worker I know. She doesn’t quit until she’s completely satisfied with her work. I swear she might be a robot! My little brother is a musician creating his own music at just 18! My younger sister is a fine artist creating insanely amazing paintings. She was the person that inspired me to draw every day. She never stops drawing ever. My group of friends has all supported my journey and continue to motivate me and cheer me on. I am also very grateful for my mentor/life coach/friend that helped guide me towards my goal to be a full-time illustrator. I learned how to trust my intuition and see how my weaknesses are actually my superpowers. Without her, I don’t think I would even have the confidence to share my story.