Exhibitionists

Jeannie Phan creates an introvert's paradise with her lazy-day GIFs

Cats, pizza and sweatpants: these are a few of our favourite things, and they're everywhere in the world of Jeannie Phan. The illustrator creates an introvert's paradise with her autobiographical lazy-day GIFs.

Cats, pizza, sweatpants and this week's Exhibitionist in Residence: these are a few of our favourite things

If you love lazy days as much as cats love boxes, explore the world of Jeannie Phan. The Toronto illustrator is this week's Exhibitionist in Residence. (@jeanniephan/Instagram)

Sometimes, it's OK to do nothing. There is a time for lazy days dedicated to cat naps and comfort food, when pants are optional unless they're of the well-worn fleece variety. But those times don't come often enough, especially if you consider Garfield your spirit animal. So when you find yourself hating Mondays more than usual or dreaming of a world where the "duvet suit" is not just an internet joke but a beautiful down-filled reality, escape to the world of Jeannie Phan, a Winnipeg-raised artist who knows how to create an introvert's paradise.

Cozy. That's one word to describe Phan's personal work — the illustrations and GIFs she creates when not on assignment for print clients including the New Yorker, The Walrus and NPR.  

They're "supposed to be these quiet little moments that will hopefully remind you to take a break," says this week's Exhibitionist in Residence of her GIFs, images that celebrate the triumvirate of stay-at-home sloth — cats, pizza and sweatpants — while making you wish every day was a rainy day.

"It's a little bit autobiographical," says Phan of her work, especially her pics tagged #gifwithme on Instagram. "I wear a lot of sweatpants," she laughs, and her housecat Odin is her go-to model, a snowy beauty with a black-and-white tail.

The relaxing personal moments she captures, though, are rare in reality. As a freelancer, Phan might work from her Toronto home, but she never has time for solo dance parties or pizza comas.

"I feel like we're in a work culture where we constantly have to be working. I end up always working overtime anyway, so if I don't allot time for myself, either doing my own personal work or living life, I just end up working," she says.

If she wants some me-time, Phan says she needs to schedule it, and her favourite way to relax is art.

"Animation is perfect for a personal project," she explains, because it's a completely different medium than what she does for her professional clients — though her favourite subjects at the moment, kitties and houseplants, inevitably appear in her freelance work like flora and fauna signatures.

When she paints a cat, she's drawing a real one. Through Instagram, where Phan has 21.6K followers, she's been building a resource of feline life models, doing regular giveaways where she'll draw your favourite furball. 

"It's a way to connect and relate to other people," Phan says, explaining why she does cat portraits for internet friends.

"There are certain cats that may seem more mischievous so you try to capture that in how their eyes are kind of squinting or maybe even the backgrounds that you choose. There was one cat that was a little sassy so I did a cactus background, so it's all prickly — you want to get away from it."

"When you have a cat, they become your muse inadvertently somehow, probably because they are so mysterious," says Phan, adding they have just the right temperament for sharing a home that's also an office. Well, Odin does, at least. "They're there and they're calm," she says. "They're not particularly excitable."

And just like Phan's illustrations, they're always taking it easy — and reminding you to do the same.   

 

Want more from Jeannie Phan? Visit her website and watch Exhibitionists online or Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (5 NT) on CBC Television.

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