How do I get started!!!?

27 09 2010

Some weeks ago I got a message from a dear artist friend that is just getting started, she has loads of talent and a lot of creativity and great skill. But that is not enough, you cannot sit in your living room waiting to be ‘discovered’ like in a cheese Hollywood movie. She knows very well that one of the important things is to get out there, get seen, make a name for yourself… And that was the question: “What name do I give my Etsy store”?

While I am not an authority at names, or at anything for the case!, I gave her the best advice I could, and then I thought I could share that with the rest of the world, since probably, other people might be in the same situation.

Stock provided by

This is my answer:

“That is a really difficult question because a name is sooo personal!
I think that it has to be something you feel comfortable with not only today but also in a few years… so if you feel that ‘zexygurl’ sounds silly today, you probably will feel it is downright stupid in two years. I would avoid intentional misspellings, by the way. Also, do not use fanart names; except you will do only Sailor Moon based art, you do not need to be “SailorWarriorStore”, you need to be something unique and not a copy of someone else’s idea.

I would also avoid something that is so witty that only you and your friends can understand, you do not want to make people have to think too much to get your name, or to have to put a lot of effort in remembering it, you want them coming back!
Other thing I would avoid is numbers… would not go for 3l12ab3th or Mary8765 either. Those are aggravating and hard to remember later.

I know I probably did not tell you anything you already didn’t know! Sorry! But those are the things I try to keep in mind. Also, try to google the names you have thought of to see if they are widely taken! When I took “faerywitch” I was the only one, but I was too busy with gradschool as to claim territories (websites) with it and now there are too many faerywitch/fairywitch!! 😦 but I don’t want to get rid of it because people already knows me by it!
So another thing you would want to do is go over all stores and art places and create an account with your chosen name. They are free, so there is no cost.

Also, what are you planning to sell? Ceramics only? ceramics and other crafts? That can help you too to define the name of your store.

I am afraid I have not been of much help! 🙂 but if there is anything else I can do for you let me know!”

I hope this is for some help to those of you that find yourselves in this situation. Also, if you have any extra advice that I did not cover here, it would be awesome to hear of it!

Interview with Katherine Wadey

16 09 2010

Katherine Wadey is a multifaceted artist that can face projects involving abstract, figurative, fantasy, religion, digital or traditional media. All her art is  full of beauty and vibrancy and her gentle and motherly character makes her well loved and respected by many artists in the web. I don’t think I ever got so many people wanting to comment about her, and that in itself says a lot.

(c) Katherine Wade

Kate, do you have formal training in art?

I started high school as an art major. Dad was transferred in the middle of my freshman year and I couldn’t get back to it until I was a senior. I did acquire an Associate in Arts Degree with an emphasis on graphics, rather than illustration, and a minor in archaeology and anthropology, before I had to get a full-time job outside of school.

Was your family supportive of you pursuing an art career?

Not exactly. We moved a lot because of dad’s job, and art materials were considered a luxury item that could put us over the designated weight limit for our household goods.  There were several teachers in the family, one of whom was a retired art teacher at/from The Chouinard Art Institute. The emphasis, my mother and both grandmothers were teachers, was on “teacher”. Art was OK as something to do after one’s chores, and homework, were done.

How would you describe yourself as an artist? Who would you say were your main influences?

As an artist, I’m all over the place. I love shoving color around just as much as I enjoy doodling landscapes and creatures. The earliest were Tyrus Wong, whoever in the Disney studios illustrated a “Little Golden Book” titled “Grandpa Bunny”, and Yoshinobu Sakakura’s beautiful illustrations in “Old Tales of Japan, Volume 1”. Later major influences were Arthur Rackham, di Lodovico Buonarroti Simon, Virgil Finlay, Kelly Freas, and Neal Adams.

Some people think that religious people are against representations of fantasy creatures as mermaids and dragons. How do you reconcile both fantasy art and religion?

Most of the time, I don’t bother, beyond not forcing it on people who have made it plain to me that “that sort of nonsense” makes them decidedly uncomfortable. Fantastic, I am using the old definition here, creatures have been a part of Christian religious art ever since the first artist monk tried to illustrate the third chapter of the book of Genesis or the book of Revelations. Dragons and mermaids peek out of ornamental capitals and borders of many copies of The Book of Hours, frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and others, and modern allegorical written works, such as C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles. Dragons are one way to view the serpent in the Garden who, as stated in the Bible, walked upright before the fall. Mermaids, unicorns, centaurs and the rest, are pretty much in the category of “what I thought I saw in that quick glimpse” as drawn from the description of the “viewer” by someone who wasn’t there at the time of said glimpse.

How does your religious and spiritual life affect your art?

I think that that part of my life is one of the reasons I prefer to paint or draw images that reflect the beauty and wonder in the universe. As someone who grew up in the Cold War

(c) Katherine Wade

years, often apart from most of civilian society, and has lived in an area that was a bit violence prone, I feel it is vital to learn to see the world, and the people in it, through the fears and stereotypical masks we often use as defenses, or more sadly, weapons. I see no reason to paint or draw mankind’s violence of any kind as an end in itself. If I do draw it, as I did in “Damage”, the message is blatantly “this is not a good thing because…..”

I have seen you working both figurative and abstract art masterfully. Also you seem to be as comfortable with traditional art as with digital. What attracts you of each?

Thank you for those kind words. Actually, I fight my way through figurative work because I have a screaming need to be able to give the illusion of life to my humanoid figures, as well as to the animal based creatures, which I can much more easily draw. I seem to be addicted to colour. Abstracts, which I find to be enormous fun, give me the ability to explore emotions, spatial relationships, volume, and mass, without the distraction of poor anatomy rendering. I love the feel, flexibility, and smells of oils; the many ways acrylics can be used; the precision of technical pens; and the portability and tidiness of coloured pencils and markers. As my children arrived and grew, with my studio space in a corner of our living room, working with traditional media became more and more stressful. With digital media I no longer have to worry about dropped brushes, spills, smears across the art, the kids getting the media on themselves, or set-up and clean-ups. Best of all, I can get the final art to the clients much faster this way.

Tell us about your stained glass-abstract art project.

When it was decided, in the late 1970s, to enlarge the sanctuary of our church, a request went out to the artists in the congregation to submit designs that might be used in the windows in the new building. I decided, at that time, they would be rather non-objective so that viewers would not be caught up in the “but that’s now how they looked” syndrome, and totally miss the point of the image. I submitted three designs, Crucifixion (in a rectangular frame), Sermon on the Mount, and Two Dispensations. None of our submitted designs were used; but by then I had painted Nativity and The Woman at the Well in acrylics on canvas, both as gifts, and Two Dispensations, which I still own. Shortly thereafter, our pastor commissioned, and I completed, Sermon on the Mount as an acrylic on canvas piece for his home. That was the end of it. Then, in 2006, I started recreating all of the designs using Photoshop as note card designs, with the scripture references on the back. I am aiming for twelve pieces, to become a calendar. Throughout all of this I have tried to be mindful of the strictures of working in glass, so that the pieces may actually be built as windows.

Among many other things, you have done some game art. What can you tell people that want to get into that discipline?

After having been a RPG player for years, I rather fell into those jobs through friends who worked in the industry; however, Steve Jackson Games posts their Artist’s Guidelines on their website and Wizards of the Coast lists job openings. If you want to work for a particular game company, do your homework as well as working on your art skills. Get your portfolio in proper order. Research their websites for job openings or artist /author guidelines. As with any industry, find out what the company you want to work for wants, and how they expect it to be presented to them. If you can get to the conventions and industry shows where the art directors are likely to be, find out if they are reviewing portfolios, if they aren’t, but are there to chat with the gamers and public, then by all means chat, politely. If these are the folks you want for your bosses, listen to them, and learn.

(c) Katherine Wade

I know that you and your family have been going through some rough times recently, how has that affected your artwork? Do you find art to be cathartic or more of a burden in hard times?

Well, when it started, the whole family was so emotionally drained and physically tired  for about four months that my youngest daughter, with whom I share art space and supplies, simply put our active traditional media projects away to keep them protected until we could work again. Once again I am extremely grateful for clients who are both understanding and patient. I am also very lucky, in that what I am working on now is aimed at private collections, and therefore has no print release deadlines. As to whether art is cathartic or more of a burden in hard times, it really is a bit of both. It is absolutely wonderful to be able to get a project properly completed, no matter how small. It is also incredibly frustrating to get focused in on a piece and get a call that means packing it up and dealing with the current situation, which really is more important, at this time.

What would be a favourite piece of yours and why?

I find October Country a bit amazing, actually. It is one of those pieces that sort of ran out of my paintbrush and took on a life of its own while I was working on it. It was a college art assignment, painted on chipboard, a cheap cardboard, using the kind of cheap tempera paint that used to be used in grade schools. My teacher told me, as he handed it back after grading, that the low grade he had to record was because it didn’t follow the assignment, not because it was a poor painting. It went on to win a couple of art show awards. My mother and one of my best friends wanted it. My parents had it framed and hung prominently in their home. After my parents passed away, my friend bought it for her home. It has neither faded nor deteriorated appreciably during all those years.

What is so special about centaurs?

In 1973 a friend, who has been known to create incredibly beautiful sculptures using dental tools, and I agreed that I should create a series of centaur drawings, a favorite subject

(c) Katherine Wade

of his, as payment for one of his sculptures. Four years later, with the piece paid in full, and as a result of several more “centaur societal concepts” that had been sparked by the art trade, I released a set of eight pen and ink prints. Shortly after that, the full colour drawings, Daddy and then Mommy were commissioned, one Christmas after the other. Those were followed by commissions of a belly dancing centaur, and Make My Day, Mate. I seem to have centaurs and dragons yelling “paint me!” in the back of my brain. They’re a raucous lot.

Where can the readers find your art? Will you be doing conventions?

My art can be found on my website at, which I am a bit behind in updating, because coding gives me nightmares, and time to work on it doesn’t exist right now. That is also why my newest pieces, both complete and WIPS, may be seen at There are also a few pieces up in galleries at and, but my time has been so constrained, I haven’t been able to really participate in those sites nearly as much as I would like.

Yes, I will be doing conventions this year. I will be sharing Artist Alley table space at Anime Expo in Los Angeles and I have a space in the Dealers’ Room at LosCon. Other than that I hope to have work in the ComicCon in San Diego, again this year. Westercon, in Pasadena is still up in the air as it is scheduled the same days as Anime Expo, but I apparently need to be there, as well.

Angela Sasser
“I know Kate from our ongoing interactions within the DeviantART community (and now also through other online means). Not only is Kate a talented artist, but also one of those special people who always encourages others to succeed. That combination of community spirit, creativity, and kind words makes each interaction with her a gift to read.”

Christine Griffin
“She’s far wiser than I could ever hope to be; her eye for design leaves me in the dust. I can always count on Kate to have valuable information and opinion on just about any subject under the sun. I respect her, and am more than lucky to name her among my dearest on-line friends!”

Linda Smith
From what I know of Kate online. I think she is a wonderfully talented artist. Her talents lie in the use of many different mediums. My favorite pieces of hers is the Lion she did in acrylic. She is very sweet and always takes time to comment on other peoples work.

Diego Faustro
I think she’s a a great artist who knows how to mix nature with fantasy and really make it work. Every animal in this world has a “human” factor that she expresses very well within her pictures.

Karyn Lewis
When I think of Kate’s art, I think of elegance. Like the stained glass designs she sometimes creates, there’s something clear and precise and pure about her art. Her work gives off a feeling of serenity; and so does she, always with a supportive or calming word to her online friends.

Supporting the artist, or why I avoid Amazon

12 09 2010

I love books. I loooove books with a passion. Grad school was hard for me, not only because of the inherent complexity of grad school but also because with my meager stipend and little personal time I couldn’t afford books nor had the time to read them. Then I graduated,  got a job and it was like a piece of heaven every month, when I would log into and buy books, $30 per month. Why Amazon? Well, partly for the convenience of browsing their files late at night after work, the possibilities are close to endless and they do hold a great selection, but also because I could find no better price than them anywhere else.

Until one day, my friend Meredith Dillman was publishing a book: “Watercolor made easy: Fairies and fantasy”  and in Amazon they had it 20% less than she would sell it through her webpage. So I asked her why was that difference and she mentioned that the actual price of the book was the one she was giving through her site, but Amazon marks down the prices so much that it makes it hard for her to compete… to sell her own book!

Earlier this year Stephanie Pui Mun Law also released an awesome how to book “Dreamscapes: Myth and Magic” and Amazon marked it down by 34%! She also mentioned the hardships of competing against her own product in Amazon, because, let’s face it, the price difference is quite impressive! Something similar occurred with the book “Dreams of Magic” by artist Michelle Lee Phelan.

These artists, and many others, go through a lot of work to put these books together, hours of painting, writing, preparing the layout, editing, this is a task that usually starts over a year before the book is ready to be released. Amazon is driving the prices down so much that it is not even an advantage to get the books straight from the artist, who being a smaller seller cannot (and should not) lower the price to below what the publisher marks the book for. This gives problems to large publishers as Harper Collins, imagine what it does to a freelance artist! Usually what the artists do is offer a signed book with a little enhancement, being a sketch card, a small print, something extra to make the buyer feel that they are still gaining something from this purchase, even when they would be paying more.

I feel that with our current “Walmart culture” in which cheaper is better we are harming the creative minds that are producing those books, we are killing the hen of the golden eggs. My choice? I choose to buy straight from the artist each time I can, other bookstores when this is not possible, and Amazon when it is the only place where I can find that book. Yes, that means that I will buy  fewer books per month, or that some months I’ll go without books, but I rather know that the great artists that put months of effort, years of learning and sleepless nights will be well rewarded for their efforts, hoping that they will earn a good living and keep creating more awesome art, which is, after all, what we all wanted in the first place.

Artist feature: Kelly Chehardy

9 09 2010

Hi everybody, let me today do a little feature and introduce you to my friend Kelly Chehardy.  Kelly is a young, recently graduated artist that has a very unique style and a lot of character! She is not shy of experimenting with different media, being photograph, video, animation or drawing, but what impresses me the most is her sculptures. I love her clay sculptures, I think they capture her unique essence very well. In them you can see a certain innocence but they are sexy and seducing at the same time, they are elegant and attractive, yet the spikes warn about a certain danger. Talking to her one day she described how meticulous she is when it comes down to materials, she tests them and puts them through all kinds of hardships to make sure that the final product will be sturdy and will not break easily when it’s sold.

Queen (c) Kelly Chehardy

Lolita (c) Kelly Chehardy
















Oh! And Kelly is also a cosplayer, she puts uncountable hours to get each detail to the outfits to be perfect and this has gained her prizes and mentions. She seems to have a lot of fun with this, and though the Esmeralda one is my favourite, you should absolutely check her other outfits out!

Esmeralda (c) Kelly Chehardy

You can find Kelly’s work in her Deviantart page.

The Princess and the Pea-Concepting

7 09 2010

During the summer I was commission by to work on illustrations for “the Princess and the Pea” to ornate their adaptation of the fairy tale. I was super excited because I always wanted to illustrate a storybook!

The first step was the character design. To know what look the character would have I did some research about the tale itself. The Princess and the Pea was adapted by Hans Christian Andersen in the 1800’s and it was not very popular at the time because of the lack of moral message. The original tale is likely from Sweden, from the medieval times. So the characters would have medieval garments of the Sweden area. It is a light tale, so I was not planning on anything heavy looking or intimidating.

The next thing was to define particular looks and the colors. For this I used the plot device of the tale as my inspiration: the pea. I googled and downloaded images of sweet pea plats and flowers and used that as a base for my colors. Since the tale revolves around the pea, I used a lot of greens and pinks in the images. In the image below you can see how I kept the pinks from the flowers to give the princess her outfit. For the night gown I took some liberties and modernized it a little bit to make it more appealing to little girls, but the dress has a very basic medieval look. The cloak I envisioned having the hood in the shape of the larger fused petal (that hoods the others) of the flower. I never got to use this idea, though 🙂

Concepts for the Princess and the Pea (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010

For the rest of the characters I also used the sweet peas as a base. I wanted the queen and king to look youthful and active, since today parents look far from the older looking parents of the 1500’s! The queen in particular needed to look strong, since she is the main character really, the one that moves the plot forward. Also since she is the one that came up with the pea idea, I plastered the pea all over her! Her jewelry is reminiscent of peas and the frills of the dress look like the stipulate leaf in the pea shoots. Her dress is an anachronism, but after trying several designs the Elizabethan look was the one that would keep looking more regal and… it is hard to think of a stronger queen with a very defined fashion style in history than Elizabeth I. So Elizabethan she looks!

I also dressed the king in the same range of colors, to indicate a certain unity of the royal house, the maple leaf in his chest was later not used. And the prince got a color palette on his own, to indicate that he is ready to become independent of his parents and start a new family, though I kept the green to still link him to the royal couple, but having a more saturated and vibrant shade to him, since he is younger and probably less conservative than his parents.

Princess and the Pea characters concept (c) Constanza Ehrenhaus 2010.

Once the characters were designed I needed to work on the story board, refine the images and have a final product ready! The greatest challenge was the super tight deadline! I normally do 3-5 sketches per image and then discuss possibilities with the client, adjust, discuss some more, and after 2-3 revisions I start painting. Well, this was not possible this time, so I had to go with the first gut instinct about a certain image. Thankfully, my AD, Dave Young, was really good and with his invaluable help we got the images refined on the go with much better results that I could have achieved on my own.

Some images were of particular difficulty to tie together, as panel 2, which has to accompany text saying how the prince traveled the world meeting princesses but he could not be convinced that they were true princesses. The images below show some of my struggles. The first image was rejected by me and never sent it to Dave, but the second one was an absolute favourite of mine for the whole tale! However, the team at Zoodles thought that it could be offensive if perceived as ‘the prince was not tolerant of other cultures’ and I am happy they are there to think beyond the art, because it never crossed my mind until they pointed that out! But it is better to be safe that sued. So we discarded one and we went into a line up, as in the “Bachelor”. Having never seen the show I was kind of lost about this concept, and it was rejected (great! because I hated it).

Constanza Ehrenhaus (c) 2010

Then David gave me the prompt “worse date ever!” and I knew where to go from there! 🙂  So once I sent the last concept we just needed to refine it a little bit more and be done with that one panel!

Constanza Ehrenhaus (c) 2010

Fortunately all the other panels were much easier to come up with and we were literally producing one full illustration every 1 or 2 days. It was extremely intense! But there is nothing like getting to the end of a project and be happy with it, and have your client happy with it! 🙂

You can see some of the images I made for them in the gallery. Now off to work on Rapunzel! It should be a lot of fun since that is a tale packed with drama!