Instagram Spotlight: Background Painter Fraeya Pinto

Looking for some creative artist accounts to follow on Instagram? Don't worry, we've got you covered!

This month we chatted with Background Painter, Fraeya Pinto, who is based in our Toronto studio. Her Instagram account @fraeyap is packed full of interesting character designs and beautifully colourful pieces.

We scrolled through Fraeya's artwork and chatted to her about some of our favourites!

/images/labs/Instagram-Spotlight-Freaya-Pinto-Grab-3.jpg /images/labs/Instagram-Spotlight-Freaya-Pinto-Grab-2.jpg /images/labs/Instagram-Spotlight-Freaya-Pinto-Grab-1.jpg

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure. I was actually born in India and grew up on a tiny island in the middle east called Bahrain. My family moved to Canada when I was 14, so I had a pretty interesting childhood. I grew up watching cartoons and absolutely love them. It was a little scary deciding I wanted to work in animation, but nothing makes me happier.

How would you best describe your work?

Haha, this is a tough one. Hopefully appealing, that’s what I strive for. Probably a little girly.

I’ve been trying really hard lately to better understand colour and light, and I hope that comes through in my work.  My focus lately has also shifted to storytelling. I’m hoping that my work conveys a sense of narrative.

The majority of your work concentrates on character design, can you explain why this appeals to you so much?

I think characters interest me because they give the viewer something to relate to. They give you a point to ground your story in or convey a mood or emotion.  Don’t get me wrong, I love backgrounds too, but they’re just so much more interesting with someone or something in them.

What artists/things inspire you and your work?

So many. Oh man. I’ll list a few.

- In terms of design, I love Janice Sung’s work; she has a great eye and does beautiful portraiture.

- I love the oil paintings of Keita Morimoto. He has these beautiful, romantic paintings of Toronto that I’m obsessed with. I wish I could crawl into his paintings and live in the city he sees. His understanding of colour and light really inspires me.

- I love everything Tonko House does.

- Dice Tsutumi and Robert Kondo’s simplified approach to accurately painting light is really inspirational. I’ve learned so much from their course and from studying their work.

- In terms of old masters, right now I’m very much into Joaquin Sorolla’s work. In a similar vein, his paintings of colour and light are absolutely astounding.

/images/labs/Instagram-Spotlight-Freaya-Pinto-Floating-woman.jpg Original piece by Fraeya /images/labs/Instagram-Spotlight-Freaya-Pinto-Floating-woman-reworked.jpg Reworked /images/labs/Instagram-Spotlight-Freaya-Pinto-Floating-woman-original.jpg Harper Smith's original Photo

Can you explain the pieces above to us?

Haha, aw man, I did this yeeeaaars ago. It was inspired by a shoot for Free People by Harper Smith. I loved the lighting and mood of his photo, and the way parts of the models disappeared into the submerged water. I really wanted to study that.

Seeing it all these years later, I actually decided to rework her face. I think when I’d done the original piece, I’d kept a bit closer to the models face, but seeing it now it doesn’t gel.

And the piece below?


I did this for Mermay about 4 years ago. It was inspired by an Instagrammer I follow who models Indian fashion. It’s a bit of a reflection of my own background. I wanted to do a Bollywood style mermaid.

How do you develop your work and skill set and what motivates you to do so?

I draw constantly. I also find I do well in a class environment, so I’ll try and take a course every year. I believe in the student for life mentality.

As for what motivates me, I think it’s trying to master my craft. Animation and art are my chosen fields, and I’d like to excel. I also feel the better I am at my craft, the better I’ll be able to tell stories.

How do you approach a personal project and is this very different than your approach to a professional one?

Yeah, usually my personal work is a lot more free-form. I generally have a picture of what I want in my head, so I don’t spend a lot of time thumbnailing. I just hit the ground running; it’s really cathartic and relaxing.

With client work, the process is a lot more collaborative and involves a bit more back and forth.

For someone starting out in their career, what is the one piece of information you would give them that you feel could help them most?

Work on the basics. Unlearning bad habits will be a lot harder than learning good ones right off the bat.

Understand structure and anatomy and perspective; knowing how to draw leaves you free to focus on style later, versus having gaps in your knowledge that will ultimately limit you.

What tools do you use in your work and what is your favourite?

Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint are my go-to right now (seriously, Google the ‘perspective ruler’ in clip studio. It will blow your mind). Though I’m hoping to get back to traditional painting. I’m doing a Plein air oil painting course this September and I'm really looking forward to it!

Do you have any other outlets?

Rock climbing. We’re lucky enough at the Toronto studio to be next door to a climbing gym; you can find me there on my lunch breaks and after work.

What are your aspirations for the future?

Working on a personal project with my boyfriend right now. We’re hoping to put out a comic together. You can have a sneak peek if you’d like?

Yes, please!

You can check out loads more of Fraeya's gorgeous work at @fraeyap!


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