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Getting to know Adam Bunch, MerMay 2023 Winner


We sat down with this year’s MerMay drawing contest winner to find out more about his background, where he gets his inspiration from and why he thinks building community is important. Congratulations to Adam and all who participated in this year’s event.


Xencelabs: When did you first discover your attraction to illustration?


Adam Bunch (AB): From a very early age I knew I wanted to explore illustration. My father is a graphic designer and illustrator, and I would always try drawing the same kinds of things I saw him drawing, including whimsical characters and cartoons.


Xencelabs: Did you have a natural gift for drawing or was it learned through hard work? Perhaps it was a bit of both?


AB: Probably a bit of both, I would say I had a natural talent that in more recent years I have refined and developed through study and hard work. I attended art school briefly in 2012, studying foundational art that included life drawing, gestural drawing and classical styles. Later in 2016-2018, I took a 2D animation drawing course through a local college.


Xencelabs: It sounded like art became more than a hobby for you once you realized that you could make a living at it, right?


AB: Definitely. I’ve been a freelance illustrator now for about fifteen years, and it is hard but rewarding work. I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some very creative and supportive people.


Xencelabs: Where do you draw (pun intended) your inspiration from and who are some of your favorite artists?


AB: I draw my inspiration from just about everything, from movies/shows and animation to the everyday bustle of urban life, even song lyrics. As for favorite artists? I have way too many to list all of them here, but a few I would include: Glen Keane, Nico Marlet, Cory Loftis, Andreas Deja, Frank Frazetta.


Xencelabs: You mentioned that you are an iPad/Apple Pencil user. What are some of the aspects you like about drawing digitally?


AB: Though I was trained as a traditional artist and love working that way, I appreciate the ability to make quick changes and not be “locked in” to an area due to the fragility/permanence of traditional media mark-making on paper. It frees up many of the constraints of traditional and allows me to loosen up my lines, which in turn makes the process go faster.


Xencelabs: How did you find out about MerMay and why did you decide to jump in?


AB: I found out about MerMay by following popular monthly challenges on Instagram, several years back around the time MerMay first broke the surface. I have always loved mermaids, and “The Little Mermaid” 1989 Disney movie is my favorite animated film, so it seemed like a natural fit to flex my creative muscle. I’ve been participating in the challenge for the past few years.


Xencelabs: What did you like most about MerMay and why do you think online drawing programs like this are important?


AB: I love the supportive and positive community of artists who participate in MerMay. Tom Bancroft and the other judges and organizers for this challenge have really invested so much time and effort into building the community and allowing it to flourish, everyone encourages and inspires everyone else to keep doing what they love and to share their creations. We need more of that in the world, for so many reasons.


Xencelabs: Can you share one your favorite prompts from this year’s contest?


AB: If I were to pick one, I would choose “Food.” It was great fun to interpret! 




Xencelabs: As the winner, what would you like to say to the MerMay community?


AB: I would like to say thank you to everyone, for inspiring me every single day of the challenge. It’s not that easy to create consistently for a full month, but seeing all of their art kept me going and got me through. It really got me to push myself more, which as artists a lot of us need to get further and push past where we may feel stuck. I would tell anyone who feels stuck, to just keep drawing.


Xencelabs: What are your plans moving forward and how can people continue to follow you?


AB: After a much-needed break, moving forward I have several projects in the works with a couple of companies, along with some commission work and one or two creative projects of my own. Thanks to the wonderful people at @mermay_official and Xencelabs, that work will be made much easier and even more exciting!


You can follow me on my Instagram or Facebook, @adam_is_arting


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