Ava Puckett is the illustrator behind AVIATE PRESS, a stationery and lifestyle brand out of Nashville, TN, with a humanitarian mission to make you LOL. Ava finds her inspiration in girl power, pop culture, and everyday magic. Some of her favorite things include petting other people's dogs, playing soccer, and hanging out in coffee shops.
Below she talks with us about breaking into the indie-design industry, the inspiration behind her pun-filled illustrations, and how she copes with stress and anxiety to stay productive and happy.
Tell us about the birth of Aviate Press.
Aviate Press came about after I graduated college in 2014 and struggled to find a job in the Entertainment Industry. I thought I wanted to work in the music business, but at the end of my senior year, I started getting back into art and illustration. I decided to open an Etsy shop shortly after and was having so much fun creating things and connecting with people through my greeting cards. Then the stars aligned when I met some super cool artsy people through a letterpress class and suddenly realized, 'OH! There are people that doodle and make things all day as their full-time jobs!' I joined a studio space with those new friends and kept side-hustling until I was able to start working for myself full-time in the beginning of 2018.
Did you always want to be an artist, even in childhood?
I was always a doodler, but I didn't realize I could pursue it as a career until I met other illustrators. I think I always knew deep down that I would do something creative, but I thought it would be in music or theater.
What is your favorite medium to create with?
I love working with pencils and markers, but my new favorite tool is my iPad Pro, which has a ton of different brushes to choose from in the Procreate App.
What does a typical day at your studio look like?
The list varies but is usually comprised of filling online and wholesale orders, working on illustration jobs (either client based or for new products), and working towards big picture goals for Aviate Press. There's also an ongoing list of business stuff to take care of, like ordering office supplies, bookkeeping, and scheduling social media.
What inspires you?
I'm often inspired by pop culture and whatever is 'trending' at the moment. I love using slang and Millennial lingo in my work as a way to stay relevant and connect with a young audience. I'm also inspired by children's books, Frida Khalo, and vintage hand lettering.
Do you ever get “creative block”? If so, how do you combat it?
Um, YES, definitely. It usually coincides with high levels of stress and anxiety, and is a sign that I've been overworking myself. I try to combat it with nature walks, meditation, going to see a movie or visiting a museum. I find that it also helps to journal and doodle about it.
Speaking of stress and how to cope, we hear you are working on a new self-help zine. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Yes! I've been working on it for a while now. I'm calling it What to Do When Ur Feelin' Blue. I've struggled with anxiety for longer than I realized, and I originally started putting this zine together as a way to organize my doodles and journal thoughts on dealing with my anxiety. But I've shared bits and pieces of it with my audience and they responded very positively, so I plan to release a limited edition when it's finished. You can get a sneak peek of it here.
What would your dream job be (other than what you are doing now)?
I would love to get back into acting!
What do you enjoy doing in your “free time?”
I play soccer every chance that I get. I'm on 3 teams right now, but also float around a few others because it is my one TRUE hobby. I also enjoy going on walks, doing yoga, and getting a cocktail with my fiance or group of friends at our local tiki bar.