Gina Mei
Updated Jul 31, 2015 @ 8:25 am

We’re going to go ahead and say it: Milly Vanilli’s illustrations are just as amazing as her name. Her art is totally dreamy, and her portraits send our hearts aflutter: They’re the perfect combination of realistic and whimsical, and the way she uses patterns and color is absolutely gorgeous. Originally from Stockton-on-Tees, Milly went on to study Illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, and now lives in London, where she works full-time as a graphic designer. But, of course, it’s her illustration work that has won our hearts over. We’re not even a little ashamed to say we’re obsessed — and that’s why she’s our Illustrator of the Week!

Find out more about Milly and her art below, and buy some of her exclusive-to-HelloGiggles phone cases by clicking right here.

No pressure, but describe your art: Contemporary, fashion-inspired portraiture that aims to capture not only the person’s likeness but also their character.

What inspires you to make things: My surroundings. I love to travel. I moved to Notting Hill earlier this year and the neighborhood itself is a constant source of inspiration, from the pretty pastel townhouses, to the vibrant markets, to the crazy characters in the local pub.

Your favorite thing(s) to draw: A great head of hair. I also love drawing my followers on Instagram, though I don’t get time to do as many as I’d like. It’s nice to be able to make someone’s day with a surprise portrait.

Medium of choice: I always start with my mechanical pencil and trusty eraser pencil. I work as a graphic designer by day so it’s refreshing to step away from the Mac and go back to basics. I then take my drawing into Photoshop, where I add color and pattern.

The first time you knew you wanted to be an artist: Not until I was around 16. My background is quite academic; funnily enough my parents said I was good at everything apart from drawing (and sports). I was never really into ‘art’ but always had an interest in design — not that I knew it at the time. As a kid I used to make little magazines about my favorite pop stars (obviously Britney – it was the ’90s) and copy their logos. I guess my drawing ability improved with practice, and as I learned about the commercial opportunities in art and design, I decided to pursue it as a career.

Proudest achievement so far: Probably when Mel C of The Spice Girls wore a limited edition t-shirt I designed for Jeans for Genes, a charity that supports research into genetic disorders. My 8-year-old self would have been ecstatic.

Music you listen to while you work: Something relaxing like Beirut or Nick Mulvey, although I tend to have a movie playing in the background instead. Each one of my drawings takes 2-3 hours so I can usually squeeze in a movie and an episode of something on Netflix.

Your most prized possession: All the artwork I’ve acquired from my travels or been given by friends — everything from handmade jewelry to a portrait of Wiley drinking a slushie.

Your personal hero: I’ll say my boyfriend, for putting up with me when I’m hating on my own work. Like most illustrators, I’m my own harshest critic. The amount of talented artists sharing their work on Instagram is both inspiring and daunting; it’s hard not to compare myself to others even though the comments I receive are always lovely. As for illustration heroes, Gemma Correll can do no wrong.

The last thing to make you giggle: Attempting to FaceTime with my tech-illiterate Mum.

Current project(s): In my day job I’m currently working on a line of kids’ Christmas packaging. We’ve been having a heatwave here in London so it felt bizarre to be drawing snowmen and little people wrapped up for Winter whilst eating ice cream and trying to stay cool. As for personal work, I’m working on some lovely commissions and attempting to set up a design collective with my talented friends.

Check out Milly’s amazing phone cases via Casetify — they’re an exclusive partnership with HelloGiggles! And for more of her work, check out her Etsy and Instagram.

You can check out our past Illustrators of the Week here!