Interview with Aaron Pocock

11 09 2012

Copyrighted to Aaron Pocock

Hi Aaron, can you please tell our readers about your artistic formation?

Like the story goes… I’ve been drawing from a very young age. I was a very shy little boy who mumbled and stumbled over my words, I found it a lot easier to communicate visually and so developed a great love of drawing and it kind of went from there. I used to copy my favourite pictures from comics and annuals and from picture books I loved. I’m totally self-taught, every now and again I wish my ability would have come a lot quicker (which I’m sure it does when you have instruction) but as a Taurean, I think teaching myself has made the lessons sink in a lot deeper, I’m a self-taught musician also, if I love to do something I intend to take it as far as I possibly can, to do what I love for a living is fabulous.

Copyrighted to Aaron Pocock

Who have been your inspirations?

Goodness, too many… Nature always inspires me, the writings of my favourite author Charles De Lint always inspire me, he’s so visual, I’m not sure if he plucks images from out of my head or places them there, but his work is tangible, living magic-I was very fortunate to have him allow me the use of some very kind comments he made about my art for my latest book ‘Touched By Magic’. (very blessed fellow I am…)
I’d love to list all the artists that inspire me but it’d take too long, from the top of my head I’d list: David Wyatt (an old pal from my 20’s), Charles Vess, Michael Hague, Michael Wm. Kaluta, Arthur Rackham, Frank Frazetta, Alan Lee, John Howe… there are so many more…

What are your tools of choice?

Pencils, pens, dip pens, brushes, watercolours, acrylics, oils and photoshop, and sometimes all of the above.

What is the importance of daily sketching? How do you keep up with this practice?

To me, it’s all important. I draw for a living and I’ve found that if I slack-off for even a day or two, my work becomes stiff and lifeless, I’ve been on month long holidays and it’s like a nightmare if I haven’t drawn to then try and get back into the swing of things… Nowadays, even when I’m on holiday I’ll sketch, at least one thing, or get at least one idea down, on a normal day though, I’ll sketch 3-4 things or see an idea take shape  just to keep my eye and my hand loose, there’s no shortcut I’m afraid.

Copyrighted to Aaron Pocock

What are your best assets? And weaknesses?

My best? I believe I’ve somehow harnessed the ability to make people nostalgic, and to wonder.
My worst? Impatience. I’m terribly impatient (for a taurean).

How would you like to see your art grow?

Well, in a number of ways… I think I’d like to see it become more well-known, I’d like to actually ‘master’ a medium, like most artists, I just want to get better and better, I think that’s a thread we (artists) all share, not to strive for perfection as such, but to develop as best we can.

What attracts you to take part in SketchFest every month?

I would love to take part every month, but I get so busy with commissions and things that it’s hard to find the time so I do it when I can. The camaraderie from all participants is incredible, Ellen has done a wonderful job promoting and maintaining the sketch fest. I’ve made some lovely friends from my time there. I believe it promotes growth as an artist and more importantly, it’s great for people to bounce ideas and receive praise from their peers.

Where can our readers find your art?

My blog:
aaronpocock.wordpress.com

My website:
www.pocockillustration.com

my youtube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/thatspaceinbetween

Copyrighted to Aaron Pocock





Interview with Mitsi Sato-Wiuff

19 06 2012

Copyrighted to Mitzi Sato-Wiuff

Mitzi your art has a clear manga style, how did it evolve into that?

Although I’ve done realism in the past, my current fantasy art style is a result of my years of doodling from my school days (elementary and junior high school).  I was born in Japan, and like most kids there, I grew up reading manga a lot, though I probably had an early start on that even among my peers.  So my doodles were influenced by the vintage shoujo manga of the late 70s and 80s —  very clean, tediously done with lots of details.  I also think that the manga style of art is generally influenced by the traditional Japanese art such as woodblock prints and tattoo art where the line art is an important, integral part of the whole look.  I do feel that my current style reflects my personal approach and taste, and therefore more authentic to me, compared to the works I used to do for fine art exhibitions.

Who are the artists that inspire you?

I find something to inspire myself in most anyone’s work and enjoy a wide variety of genre and media.  I’m usually inspired by originality of vision and uniqueness of style more than technical skills.  Any art that presents a new way of looking at things or a truly magical, personal vision always catches my attention.  But I’ve found much inspiration in the works of the following artists and they’re my favorite: Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt, John Singer Sargent, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Reiko Okano (my favorite manga artist), and Waki Yamato (also a manga artist).

Even when you work digital, your work has a softness that is more characteristic of watercolors, how do you achieve that look?

I’ve always liked the transparent colors where you can see layers of different colors rather than flat, opaque colors filling an area.  I tend to go for this look whether I’m working in watercolor, colored pencils, or digital.  In my digital work, I use Corel Painter program.  First, my line art is done traditionally in pen on paper.  I’ve experimented with different approaches, and I found that this is what I like the most — mixed media of traditional pen work with digital coloring.  I scan the line art, then color the work free hand on my Intuos 3 tablet.  I use ‘tools’ in the wet media selections with opacity set at very low percentage.  The colors are gradually built up by repeated application of light ‘washes’.  My digital coloring technique is just about the exact copy of the way I do traditional watercolor.  Many washes of colors are used to build up the desired colors, while giving the whole thing the look of transparency.  Layers I use are utilized much like traditional masking steps, so most of my works only have 6 or so layers, which I believe is very low in digital art.  You can see a simplified demonstration of my method in a progressive showing of works-in-progress in one of the psuedo-tutorials I’ve made.

Lady of the Forest

Shades of Blue

Copyrighted to Mitzi Sato-Wiuff

Why do you favor monochromes, as opposed to more variable palettes?

I think the more accurate term to describe my works is ‘limited palette’ rather than ‘monochromatic’.  There’s a predominant color, but there are also subdued hues of colors from other groups thrown in.  I’ve never been a big fan of the rainbow, technicolor artwork that utilizes every color on a color wheel.  I like to stay with a limited palette for the overall feeling of serenity and unity that it evokes.  It’s also a result of my approach.  At the beginning of the coloring phase, I always set a ‘paper color’ — something in the mid to light range of the values within a piece –, which is just like working with a colored paper.   That’s something I used to do a lot working with colored pencils when I was a signature member of the Colored Pencil Society of America back in the late 90s and early 2000s.   Because all the colors I use are transparent, the ‘paper color’ will show through to varying degrees throughout a piece of work and give that harmonizing effect that keeps everything “together”.

I see you speak Japanese, is that your mother tongue or learned later in life?

I was born in Japan to Japanese parents, so it’s my mother tongue.  Mitzi is a nickname derived from my Japanese name, Mutsumi, which most non-Japanese people have a hard time pronouncing correctly.

It is not a usual language to know, do you find it helped you with your career?

I can’t say that it’s been particularly helpful in my current art career.  It’s been quite irrelevant for the most part.  If anything, it gives me maybe a slightly varied perspective on things to fall back on occasionally, like when I’m trying to come up with an idea for a given theme or prompt.  I can always look for inspirations in my Japanese culture and/or Eastern traditions to come up with something what my fantasy art peers would think quite original and unique.   I am a foreign language teacher to American students (private tutoring), just happy to share what I know with those students that are looking for something different to learn.

How did you decide to join PSP Tube Stop?

I originally had a licensing agreement with another PSP tubes company that went out of business several months before my contract term was up.   I was approached by several companies, one of which was PSP Tube Stop.  I have an adventurous streak in me, so I was delighted by the fresh opportunity and the approach to the business the owner brought to the table, not to mention the artist-friendly contract.  When I signed the contract, the site wasn’t live yet, but I felt really good about the whole thing and never worried about going with the ‘unproven’ company at all.  In fact, my tubes are doing better than ever with PSP Tube Stop, so I’m very happy with my decision.  I’m also grateful for PSP Tube Stop for taking a chance on me, a relative newcomer.

Copyrighted to Mitzi Sato-Wiuff

What do you like about tubes?

I like the legitimacy of them the most!  These tube companies legitimately provide the art for people to use, while respecting copyright of the artists and increasing awareness of the right way to obtain and use art for personal enjoyment.  In the age of easy art theft and rampant use of found images online from graphics on web site to outright illegal business such as selling prints for profit, I think the tubes and tube businesses do it right.  The royalty is also generally the highest for any licensed products.  It’s also fun to see what creative tags people come up with using your tubes and other elements available from scrapkits, etc.  I also enjoy the interaction on places like Facebook where taggers would post their tags for everyone to see and comment on.

Where can out readers find your art?

My official web site is http://www.aurorawings.com/

where all my fantasy artwork and related links can be found, including my shop at Zazzle and my Blogger blog.
My home on the web is my deviantART account at  http://aruarian-dancer.deviantart.com/

where I interact the most with people and the largest variety of prints are sold.
My Facebook fan page is  http://www.facebook.com/FantasyArtofMitzi
where I hold giveaways of my merchandise periodically.

My line art for digital download and rubber stamps are available from  http://scrapbookstampsociety.com/index.php
and their Etsy shop.

My fabric blocks are available from  http://www.fantasyfabricblocks.com/catalog.php?category=195
where you’ll also find other products like color-me-sheets and cards.

My coloring book, published by Ellen Million Graphics, can be found on Amazon.com.





Interview with Greg Lightner

25 05 2012

Greg did you attend art school?
No, but I was one of 200 high school students who went to the Pennsylvania’s Governor School for the Arts. Much like Face off, I had to audition (in this case, submit artwork). From there I had to go through rounds of interviews and  do a drawing in front of the judges. Also like Face Off, I didn’t really do art for anything but self gratification. I didn’t even have my first art class in school until that year (1993) when I was selected to attend the Governor’s School. I guess I have always been good at art without realizing that i was good at it (if that makes sense).

Image (c) Greg Lightner

What attracted you of being a make up artist?
My love of Halloween mostly. I have always tried to outdo everyone when it came to dressing up and doing makeup. Making a career out of it is just icing on the cake. Really it is just another canvas, another form of expression, but it’s 3D much like sculpture, except alive. I like that aspect of it, turning fantasy into reality and making something exist that doesn’t (to my knowledge) in the natural world.

How did you end up working as a make up artist?
Professionally, I began in 2008 as a makeup artist for Kennywood Park’s Phantom Fright Nights (their annual haunted attraction). I began working there at the insistence of my boyfriend at the time. He knew I enjoyed Halloween and thought it would be fun for me (he worked there as a scareactor). So I interviewed for a makeup position, but got placed as a scareactor the first year (2007). I would do my and his makeup each night. Then people began noticing my work, and I started doing others in my haunt as well. Then I was noticed by the makeup supervisor and asked to assist them as well. The next year I was hired exclusively to do makeup. It was there that I truly began learning and honing my skill.

What is with all the zombies?
Haha. Well Pittsburghers LOVE their zombies! My portfolio is FILLED with them because of Kennywood, and also because of the annual zombie events they hold in Pittsburgh. I typically get hired for two things in Pittsburgh: beauty makeup (weddings, formals, social engagements) and zombies. I’m actually over zombies right now. I want to do more fantasy-related characters. Right now I am obsessing over these tree people I designed.

Can you explain in general lines for our readers what goes into creating art like this?
It all starts with an idea, a concept. Then itypically sketch and doodle and flesh it out. Often giving it a background and a reason for looking the way it does, wearing the clothes (if any)

Art (c) Greg Lightner

that it wears, etc. Giving it a life before I bring it to life. Once I am satisfied with the concept. I begin sculpting it on a form (whether this be a mannequin or a casting I did of the person who is ultimately going to wear the prosthetics). The tricky part there is figuring out how it will work with the human body, where the seams will be, how the prosthetic will be applied, etc. Once I am satisfied, I have to make a mold of the sculpture, which entails pouring a plaster-lke substance on the sculpture so i can make a negative impression of it (this process destroys the sculpture, so you only get one shot at this). Once I have the negative mold, I pour the prosthetic’s medium into it (this can be anything really, I typically use latex or gelatin though more financial reasons). Then you place the original positive that you sculpted on (the mannequin or actor’s casting) into the negative mold and clamp it shut. This will conform the prosthetic to the original cast, ensuring that you get a seamless appliance when it dries. From there it’s simply removing the prosthetic, trimming where needed and painting and applying it to the actor.

You were selected to be at Face Off, what did you take home from that experience?
I had two goals going in: to meet others in the industry and to get publicity so I can make this my full time job. Winning would have been great, but I wasn’t deluding myself in thinking I could win, especially after seeing some of the looks during our final audition. These are truly gifted artists and I was proud just to make it to the top 40, cause (again) I didn’t believe I was that good, but they thought different. After the show, I have a very close set of friends in the industry (most of the cast from season 2 and some of the cast from season 1 even), and I have began getting noticed and asked to do demos and sell my work (I don’t have any “official jobs” yet, but I am staying positive that they will be coming). Right now it’s mainly press for the show and doing publicity tours while trying to promote myself as an artist.

Photo (c) Brett-Patrick Jenkins

What would be your dream job?
Either to work under a master makeup artist that I admire (such as Wayne Toth, Greg Nicotero, Robert Kurtzman, to name a few), or to work for the haunt industry, whether in a shop or as a full time designer and manufacturer of products for the industry. Movies are okay, but they can be exhausting! However, they make the big bucks and get all the glory of seeing it on the screen (haunters get to see their work live, which offers a certain level of satisfaction, but it’s not everlasting like film is).

Where can our readers find your work?
I’m all over the internet now! Haha. I really only update my Facebook page. I need to get a website going, but that’s one more thing that i don’t have the time for right now. My official Facebook address is http://www.Facebook.com/LightkoStudios (I used to call myself under that name, but since deleted it because everyone knows me from the show now, not by my former studio).





Interview with Lisa Cree

2 05 2012

Lisa, can you tell us something about your background as an artist?
I never had any formal training in art, although I was quite talented all my life, I never pursued it as an education because I saw art as a freedom of expression and didn’t see the logic in being told what to paint and how to paint it. I learned a lot about art techniques and history from my local library.

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

You have a very peculiar style, how did it evolve?
I think that a big part of my style comes from a need to depict a certain element in something that I see or imagine and I find beautiful. For instance, eyes are the worst for me… a person is looking to the side, and logically, the eye should be ¾ of the size that it normally would be. I can’t let that eye go! I have to try and squeeze the whole eye into the portrait anyway! Legs too… they have to be super curvy, hair, unable to draw a straight hair, and outlines, I can’t seem to just leave a line to the imagination, it must be drawn and so it goes on. We end up with a sort of medieval look from the centuries before people had a clue about perspective. I can’t shake it, hard as I try sometimes.

All artists have other artists that they admire, who do you draw your inspiration from?
One of my biggest influences is video game art, the small details, the atmosphere, the exaggeration of physical traits. If I had to pick specific artists, I would say that my friends are the biggest influence I have… I have been lucky enough through social networking to meet a lot of great fantasy artists and each of them will influence me in one way or the other. I find that rather than looking at someone who has found their artistic style or niche is less interesting that joining others who are still en route.

What is the reaction of people to your style? Do you find you cater to a niche?
A lot of people like my style, but I don’t think I have a niche. My art seems to touch all kinds of people. When I ask my close friends about which pieces they like, it’s often very hit and miss…some of my pieces touch them and some they do not like at all. It seems to be the same with everyone.

What challenges and advantages there are to be an artist in France?
I really couldn’t say there are many advantages for an artist in France. I’m quite surprised, as when I didn’t live here I imagined it to be the artistic capital of the world, with so many of the greats having spent their time here
The good materials are very hard to come by here, like copic markers, and prismacolour pencils, micron pens, Daniel Smith Watercolours, things like that you have to have them shipped over and I end up having to buy almost everything from Ebay and paying a lot of shipping…

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

…and the taxes! They don’t like the little guy to be self-employed here lol! I pay a large percentage as a sole proprietor then again in personal income taxes, and am unable to claim my materials or even my postage costs.
Art is very traditional over here, they seem to like still lives, landscapes and portraits, so there is not a lot of support for fantasy art, and when I have to explain what I do, I usually end up just saying “I paint fairies”.

How do you juggle art and motherhood?
When my son was younger, I used to work a lot while he slept, or when he was playing on his own with his cars but now he has grown up to be quite the little artist himself so sometimes he works right along side. For example, sometimes we’ll both draw the same thing, or use the same paints and paint together (I think I am the only mother crazy enough to give her 6 year old her best paints and pens to play with hehe). He even has his own micron pens, prismacolor pencils and a few copic markers… a real pro 😉 I sometimes even set up the laptop next to me when I am working digitally and he has a little graphic tablet that he uses with gimp.

I often draw in the living room while the family is watching a film, I’ll sit there and sketch; which is why you don’t see a lot of paintings from me at the moment… I do what the situation allows.

It’s not making the time to do art that I find the challenge, more being able to switch off and have some real dedicated time with my family.

Tell us about your many artistic endeavors.

My first professional artworks were portraits which I did part time in my mid twenties, but my full-time job soon took too much of my time for me to pursue that… the money was never enough for me to live solely from the portraits and I also found that people wanted an exact copy of a picture rather than an artistic interpretation which was kind of off putting.

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

When my son was born, as I gave up my work to care for him, he was quite a good sleeper, so it gave me some time to continue a part time career at home during nap-time J My husband and I decided to make a jungle themed video game together and I learned to make 3D animations for that, little “sprites” of a monkey running and jumping, explosions, jungle animals walking and attacking… that sort of thing. It took a lot of time to learn to do everything myself, the modeling, texturing, rigging, animating and rendering… about two years in total.

After that project was finished, I started trying to sell my works on Ebay, and found ACEOs. I created a lot of those in a semi-abstract style in all sorts of mediums.

I’m not sure how I made it into fantasy art… it’s been something that was always there. I had books about fantasy art, and was very big on video games, but for a long time I never considered that I could do it myself. I think it was my friendship with Katerina Koukiotis which got me to cross over. I had met her because I very much admired her portraiture work, and as she is a fantasy artist too, I guess it gave me the courage to try.

What are Tubes? And what is PSP Tubes Stop?
The best way to describe tubes are to make reference to paper scrapbooking… you cut images out of magazines, pictures whatever and stick them in a book. Tubes are digital “cut outs”… we take an image and remove the background, so that it can be used in another setting. Some people have been doing digital scrapbooking for many years now and it is amazing what they create.

The PSP Tube Stop is a website that I created to sell the tubes of fellow fantasy artists. I started to create my own tubes when I was licensed with another company and when they closed, I wanted to continue as it was something that I enjoyed doing. It’s very satisfying to take an existing work of art and create a way for others to interpret it in their way.

I also wanted to create a licensing company which caters for the artist. Knowing what it is like to be on the artist’s side, I try to create the environment that I would have liked to have had when I licensed my work.

How do you coordinate all those artists?
I have a background as a programmer, and have created a website and database that helps a lot with the co-ordination.

Do you realize that you do organize a lot of things for the artists and you give back to the community a lot? What motivates you?
I try to give back as much as I can. This community has given me so much so I feel like I owe it. When I first met with the fantasy artists that I know, I was suffering from depression, had no work and no hope for my professional future. Fantasy Art and the artistic community have given me my pride and my health back.

All art (c) Lisa Cree.

One thing that motivates me is the tremendous amount of talent and work that I see and the relative lack of opportunity there is to show it, to get it seen. I say relative, because we are living in a digital age, people are always on facebook, in forums, google… connected to something somewhere and there are many opportunities to get seen and to market artworks and yet there are only a select few who manage to get seen regularly and make a decent living. Eventually I would like to use my programming/web skills to help artists with this.

Where can our readers find your work?
http://www.fantaseye.com





Interview at Artist Corner

22 01 2012

Sarah, from Artist Corner, interviewed me recently and the interview is already published here!

So thrilled! 🙂 I am normally the one asking questions, so this was a nice change!





Interview with Pascal Campion

6 09 2011

Pascal Campion is a French-American artist that has a whimsical style, great management of light and finds magic in everyday situations. The one thing that did strike me the most of his art is how much it transpires the huge love he has for his wife and children. Please, join me reading this fascinating interview!

Image (c) Pascal Campion

First, let me congratulate you on the arrival of your new twin boys!
Thank you.

Pascal, could you give us a summary of your artistic background?
Sure.
I have been drawing since I was little  and I guess I  never stopped. I went to art school in France, at a place called Ecole des Arts Decoratifs and was in the illustration section, from which I graduated in 2000.
Right after graduation , I packed my bags and came to the states, where I still am now.
When I got here, I almost immediately got a job in the animation industry and never really got out of it. It was a little strange to me because I always thought I’d be an illustrator working freelance in France, but I was now animating art a company in Portland Oregon.
I didn’t like what I was doing though… It was flash animation and all I had to do was to move symbols (cut out pieces of different parts of the characters) around. There was no drawing involved, and I was bored to death…
Luckily, the main story board artist for the company left, and they were asking around if we knew anybody who could do boards, so I volunteered, and soon became the main story artist in the company. That was an extremely fun job.

The company hit some hard times with the dot com crash, and I left for Hawaii where I got a job in an educational non profit company. I stayed there a little over a year and came back to Portland after that to work at a place called Bent Image Lab.

Bent Image Lab is a commercial production company. They do almost only commercials, and a lot of them used to be in stop motion. Now it’s a bit of everything. but when I started there, the company was just beginning. There were only the three partners, myself and two other kids that left very early. It was a start up mentality and I credit working there for teaching me almost everything I know about being professional, efficient and fast.
We were working around the clock, just about everyday on commercials and pitches. My main job there was to create animatics, that turned out to be fully animated commercials, in rough form, to pitch to clients. I was doing one full commercial in a day or two (in rough form) … and that’s what made me become so much faster.
Eventually, I started directing spots myself and become a director with Bent.

After a few years, I left to come to San Francisco to be with my girlfriend, who is now my wife. When I got here, I started working at Leapfrog as a lead animator. Leapfrog is a toy company that also does video games for younger kids. I was doing design and a little tiny bit of animation there, but mostly, I was managing people, and being managed. It wasn’t a great experience, but not a bad one either…it just wasn’t for me. What it did help me with though was that it introduced me to a bunch of extremely talented artists from the bay area, and helped me establish myself as an artist here as well.

While at Leapfrog, I felt the need  to be creative somehow because my job just didn’t let me do that, so I started something called sketch of the day. I decided that everyday of the week I would start a sketch that I would send to a few friends. It’s nothing incredibly original in the sense that a lot of people do sketch everyday, but it was something fairly new to me since I hadn’t really been drawing for the past five or six years..I had only  been animating
I honestly thought I was not going to be able to keep it up, but it’s been five years now, and I’m still doing sketches of the day. At the time, when I started, I didn’t realize how great of a training it would be. Not just because it would make me better at drawing, but because everyday of the week I would generate a new idea that I would take from the beginning to the end, it made me so much more self assured when it came to dealing with freelance work.
All of a sudden, doing commissioned work was so easy, because, in essence, I was doing that everyday already. It was also good for discipline. I wouldn’t let myself NOT do a sketch because I was tired or not in the mood.. or because I couldn’t find an idea… I kept pushing myself and every time I would come up with something. Of course, sometimes the sketches are not very good, but after a while, with the experience, I was able to create a similar quality everyday, and that level of quality kept going  up …and, hopefully, will keep going up!

Eventually, I left Leapfrog to be a full time freelancer, and that’s what I still do.
I work in commercials as well as tv, features, some print work and am always doing my personal projects.

Image (c) Pascal Campion

How do you think having studied in France has shaped your art?
Growing up in France, I was exposed to all  these different types of art, from american comics to Japanese art and french graphic novels. Plus, I was always interested in paintings. I used to look at reproductions of Bruegel’s work in my textbooks, and dream about being in those paintings. I think the simple fact of being exposed to so many different ways of doing art helped me realize that there is no one way of creating.

The school I went to didn’t force us to draw or impose any technique on us. Their philosophy was that we needed to come up with our own way of representing the world around us, to develop our own graphic grammar in a way. The illustration section was not about nice drawings, but about telling stories through our images. Some of the students could barely draw, and would use different methods to create their illustrations…. modeling scenes in clay or paper, cutting out pictures from magazines to recreate characters and stories… etc. etc.
A lot of us drew of course, because we were interested in drawing, but being around people who didn’t and didn’t care for it while still wanting to be illustrators really helped me shape my outlook on drawing and it’s true importance in illustration. By this I mean that It is important for me to be able to draw what I need to say, but I don’t necessarily need to “know” how to draw a centaur or an elf if it’s not something I am talking about in my art.
If I was asked to do a piece that related to centaurs or elves, I’d find a way to represent them, but I don’t “know” how to draw them… does that make sense? I’ll develop a visual for them based on the mood, the story , the goal of the piece. That’s how I approach all of my work actually. I try and figure out what I want to say and find a way to say it through my images.

How did you find yourself working for companies such as Disney and Dreamworks?
When I do sketches of the day, I post them on my blog, on facebook and a bunch of different places. People see them, and because I update them so often, my work gets around. That was the best marketing tool for me.
After doing sketch of the day for about six months, I got an email from Disney TV telling me they’d seen my work on some blogs, and liked it and asked me If I wanted to do some work for them. That job crumbled as I was working on it, but what I had pleased someone higher up at Disney and I started doing other jobs with Disney… and I still work with them here and there.
It’s pretty much the same for Nick jr,  and all the other major companies I am working with. They see my work on the internet, and send me an email.

Posting and showing your work as much as you can is not only a great way to grow as an artist, it’s a phenomenal way to market yourself, which is primordial if you want to be a commercial artist. It doesn’t matter how good you think you might be if no one sees your work!

There is a mild fantastic element in many of your illustrations. Do you think that fantasy art can be achieved without pointy ears? 🙂
I think what people call Fantasy IS the whole Tolkien universe. I like seeing good fantasy art but I’m not really into doing it.
That said… I like taking everyday situations and pushing them just so slighty out of the real world… and make them bigger than life. I usually use lighting to create this push…and that’ s where the “fantastic” portion of my work comes from… it’s this slight push beyond what is usually there.
I don’t always do it though. A lot of times, I’ll just focus on capturing a perfect moment, one of these instant that you see all the time, but never stop to really look at.

I did this drawing a couple of days ago of my daughter giving one of my new born sons a kiss on the cheek. She actually does that and it’s really cute. But seeing that moment in the drawing made it even MORE special, to me… Capturing those moments and trying to not just show them but make the viewer FEEL them is what I try to do… and I sometimes cheat it a bit to make the emotion more “present”.

Image (c) Pascal Campion

Your style is very unique, saturated colors, beautiful palettes, whimsical even when depicting more adult situations… what where the factors that helped you develop such a style?
When I was in college, at the very beginning, I wanted to be the BEST artist in the world.
I wanted to be able to paint, draw like the greatest… and I started doing gouache paintings. I had it in my mind that I would “master” academic drawing before I could do something else so I was into fairly realistic things.
Then one day, I started doing this gouache painting of an actor’s portrait…and it took me a week to finish it because I wanted it to be perfect. By the end, it looked OK but I was drained, and hated what I had done. I realized then that I liked art and paintings a lot, but that I didn’t want to DO it. At the same time, I really liked a certain type of comic book art… more specifically, I liked the mickey mouse and donald duck comic books that we had in France.

They were all drawn in Italy, and you could see they were done very fast, but they were all impeccable and you could always tell what was going on in the images, and even follow the stories without having to read. When I saw that, I made it a goal to develop a way of drawing that would be fast and efficient… that I was NOT going to go for the best looking art in the world, but for something that could tell a story in the simplest form possible.
And that’s still what I try to do today.

I do have  a few years of experience on me now, so my drawings are a little more complex than what I set out to do, but they are still fairly fast and simple. In short.. it was a conscious decision to prioritize readability and message over graphic “prettyness” that made me develop this style.

A funny thing I realized along the way though…is that you will really only remember what you can understand, and that if you like the content of an image, you will tend to like the way it looks as well.!

Tell us about how you work with light and why it has such a predominant role in your artwork.
Light is mainly predominant in my work because I like it a lot. I’ll be driving or biking, or even walking down the street here, in San Francisco, and see incredible lighting schemes all over the city… in winter, in summer, in fall or spring, anytime of the day.
Since I like to let myself be inspired by what is around me, it was only natural that I start exploring light in my art. That said… it’s  not very easy, at least not for me, so I work with light a lot in order to understand it  better. It’s a whole subject matter all to itself.

Your family seems to be very important for you. Does the fact of being a freelancer allows you for a better interaction and more time with them?
Yes and no. Being a freelancer allows me to go home at 4 to play with my daughter and hang out with my wife, but it also makes have to work odd hours, and sometimes on the weekends in order to complete jobs.
It’s a give and take situation if you compare it to a full time job. I don’t have the same regularity, but I have so much more freedom, and creative challenges that come out from my situation. As for my family… whether I’d be a full time or a freelancer, they always come first

Image (c) Pascal Campion

How do you balance a healthy work life and a healthy family life? Please, tell us the secret!!
It’s easy. I love my family and I love my work.
I love my family so much more, so they always come first, but I need to work to make sure I can enjoy them… when you see it like that,  it’s easier to make balanced decisions.

What do you think is your best asset in your work? And what would be an area you would love to improve?
My family.
They ground me, they stop me from working too much, and they inspire me as well.
Also  the fact that my life is not rooted in art..by this I mean that a lot of artist that I know, especially the younger ones, live for art and only art.
I don’t… I did when I was younger and that was a mistake. I feel like I love life, and use art to express that love.
That’s why I say my biggest asset is my family…seeing all my work through them makes me put back in perspective what I do and why I do it!

Image (c) Pascal Campion





Interview with Angela Sasser

8 04 2011

Angela Sasser is a very talented artist. This innate talent is not all, she is a very hard worker and has studied a lot the business of being an artist. These qualities make her unique, since it is not very easy to find a fantasy artist that has such an extensive academic background as Angela’s. To top it all, she is incredibly friendly! Please, join me in this interview to know more about this wonderful person!

Image (c) Angela Sasser

Angela, you have had a very intense and interesting education regarding art. Can you please tell our readers about it? How has it helped you so far as an artist?

Where to begin? I spent a long time trying to decide what I wanted to do with myself when I was younger. I always knew that I wanted to be involved in illustration and storytelling, but as a young dreamer, I was discouraged from pursuing it as a profession because it was seen as a fool’s errand and a profession that wouldn’t allow me to put food on the table.

I went to college with every aspiration to be an English teacher, since I had an equal love for storytelling and it was a profession at which I could make a modest living.  As time passed, I tacked on a second major in Studio Art and the two majors battled for dominance over what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I also took several business and art education courses in an attempt to find out just what it was I wanted to do with myself.

In the end, I decided I was more interested in the creation of art (even after achieving a Masters in Arts Administration), despite the fact it still took some time to convince myself I was good enough to succeed on my own merits. If my varied education has taught me anything, it’s that confidence in yourself and your art is the essential ingredient to success!  (Learning basic marketing strategies can’t hurt your chances either).

Tell us about your thesis, could you give us an outline of your findings?

For my thesis to complete my MA in Arts Administration at SCAD, I tackled the topic of e-marketing for artists.  My thesis examines the evolution of patrons of the Arts, specifically how these individuals have evolved from an elderly well-off group of appreciators to a younger audience rising up to take their place using internet as the fulcrum of their support. I also breakdown some of the more prominent methods of marketing online that artists can utilize and how many of these internet-based organizations were founded and developed.  I actually started many of my social media pages for my studio as experiments to record research findings for my thesis.

It all boils down to the fact that the arts, particularly those that are considered ‘niche’, are finding new audiences and enthusiasm thanks to the internet and social media!  I have it in mind to rewrite my thesis as a handbook to e-marketing for artists, but that is still in the very skeletal phases while I put my energy into promoting Angelic Visions.  For those who’d like to read my thesis, you can do so at the Savannah College of Art & Design’s libraries in Savannah and Midtown Atlanta where it is kept on file.

If you had to choose one single thing, what is the one decision that has influenced your artistic career the most?

Image (c) Angela Sasser

Hands down it is the decision to work on Angelic Visions for Impact Books.  I had resigned myself to a very desolate job search after finishing grad school when they approached me about doing a book for them.  My experimental efforts in marketing myself for my thesis had paid off, especially for the fact that the editor who found me did so via Google’s search engine!  It was proof this wasn’t the fool’s errand so many claimed it to be and gave me the push and confidence in my work that I needed to get going in my career.  I’m still at the beginning of my journey, technically, but the fine folks at F+W Media (Impact’s main company) got me started and forced me to focus on what I needed to do.  They gave me the push I needed to find out what I was really capable of as an artist!

Can you call yourself a “Jack of all trades”?

I’d like to say so, but I am still a novice at so many things!  I’m a novice leathercrafter (crafting for less than a year now), a hobbyist writer (too many projects waiting to be written), a web designer (I worked as one for a few years in college before programming languages left me behind), a freelance editor (when I have the time), and a would-be artist’s agent (I have the training, even though I am currently working for myself till I feel set on my own path).  All in all, I have interests in many different disciplines, but don’t quite feel a master of them all yet!  Even still, life would be boring I did not learn something new every day!

How has each discipline you practice affected your artwork?

Without this odd combination of skills, I don’t think I could be as independent as I am. If I want my website updated, I do it myself. If I want to make a budget for a convention, I do it myself. It’s been interesting learning more about leathercrafting as well, as it’s really given me wonderful insight on how my characters might function in their armor and even more inspiration for designing armor in a visual sense.  I am a firm believer in learning to do things for yourself. When you have a shoestring budget, it can be a lifesaver!

How did you get started on the masks business?

I’m still somewhat new to mask-making, but I bought my first leather hide over two years ago now along with my friend Brenda (Windfalcon on DA).  She took one half and I took the other. The hide sat in my closet for a

Image (c) Angela Sasser

whole year while I was busy with other things.  Eventually, after drooling over Brenda’s gorgeous feather and leather designs and viewing tutorials by the wonderful Andrea Masse (Merimask on DA), I finally got off my duff and started playing around myself. It was amazing how easy it was for a non-3D minded person like myself to pick up leathercrafting!  Leather surfaces take acrylic paints much like canvas and tooling designs in leather is also very meditative in its tediousness.

Are you a full time artist? How do you deal with this recession?

I am a full time artist and I will be bluntly honest in saying that it if were not for the help of my loving family, I would be working a day job right now to help pay the bills.  They supported me while I took time off to write Angelic Visions and are still supporting me during my endeavors to promote the book. More practically, I’ve been dealing with the recession by providing cheaper, smaller, and easier to produce items, such as ACEO prints and leather keychains which people can invest in small doses without stretching their budgets too far or feeling guilty for spending large sums of money.

The funniest thing about this recession is that if you find the right market to present your work, you can still find buyers! For instance, I did pretty well this year at DragonCon because it is such a large event. There were people in attendance with the willingness and appreciation to pay money for original artisan crafted work, which made it a great market for me.  Smaller events, however, have been somewhat of a bust for me this year.  Mostly I am picking my venues and events more carefully so I can keep the budget for peddling my wares manageable.  You really have to learn to read the mood and crowd of an event so you can predict where you’ll sell better next time.

Tell us about your book.

My book, Angelic Visions, came to be after Pamela Weissman over at F+W Media found my work online and approached me about creating an angel book for them.  From a business standpoint, they knew there was a market for more feminine watercolors after the success of Stephanie Pui Mun Law’s Dreamscapes and they needed someone who could provide a similar book while still being unique.

For me, it was a chance to bring a lifelong obsession with the topic of angels to fruition by combining so many interests, including mythology, painting, theology, and art history into a book that I pretty much had free reign to do what I wanted with!  And so Angelic Visions was born! It is a 125 page tome with many inspirational prompts on character design, demos on using different media, and tidbits of angelic information sprinkled throughout.

Image (c) Angela Sasser

Who is Aurora Adonai? And why does she show up so much in your work?

Ah Aurora. Like so many characters playing poker in my head when not in use, she pops up at her own discretion, usually when I have too much to do.  Aurora was originally a sassy backtalking Shadowrun character of mine – an Elven Street Samurai, to be exact! (Yes, I am a closet geek) She came from a setting that combined technology with the resurgence of magic in a decaying futuristic world.

Something about that backdrop and the way it brought to life a uniquely dark and visually interesting character stuck with me through the years.  She’s yet another pet project awaiting a novel or graphic novel.  If anyone is curious to learn more about her and the other major characters in my artwork, I’ve written a blog series on my ‘muses’ here.

What is the importance of your artist friends in your development as an artist?

First, I should say that all of my friends, including the non-artistic ones, are a precious vein of support that keep me going! Kindred spirits who can weather discussion on topics from gender roles in novels to the best way to bake a potato are a priceless commodity. Those special few of my friends who are also creative professionals prove to me that there are others who are as equally insane to embark on this ‘fool’s errand’ of being an artist.  By supporting one another and sharing information, we pave the road for others and inspire one another in a way we may not have been inspired before!

Where can our readers find your art?

Readers can find my art at my professional online portfolio, http://www.angelicshades.com. I’m known to hang out mainly on DeviantART, where I have a large presence under my studio name – http://angelic-shades.deviantart.com. You Facebook addicts out there can keep up at http://www.facebook.com/AngelicShadesStudio. Finally, I have a blog at http://blog.angelicshades.com with discussions, announcements, and other tidbits of advice.

Brenda Lyons
I’ve known Angela for several years. Before I actually met her, I remember seeing her work online and saying, “wow, I hope someday I’m able to draw as well as her.” Years later, I still see her work and find myself admiring her ability with color, line, and inspiration. She has a determination that follows her into success, and I have a feeling this book will be first of many projects to come.

Samantha Hogg
Ang has been a dear friend and a huge inspiration to me for some years now, and it’s wonderful to see her work finally getting into the public’s eye with her up coming Angelic Visions book! We’ve often spent many a night feeding each other’s project fairies and incurring moar research (inside gag :D) and she’s always been there to offer me thoughts and advice on art and the world beyond. You couldn’t hope to meet a more enthusiastic, imaginative and downright sweet human being, I count myself very lucky indeed to know the lady.

Image (c) Angela Sasser