FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How/when did you get started?
My first real step towards working as a professional creative was deciding to go back to art school. Namely, Art Center College of Design. I did a lot of research to pick the right school for me, and I chose Art Center because of its reputable program, the type of students who went there (the average age of first year students was 23 and I was 23 at the time), and their semester system (they have three terms a year, so you can finish in two and a half years). With help and advice from some friends, I figured out how to build a portfolio. While still working full time, I took my first figure drawing class that January 2008, and then I applied to Art Center in August. The following January, I started my first term.
After two years of serious focus on school, I started my first internship (at Ban.do) and taking on freelance jobs (my first official freelance job was for the Playboy Jazz Festival). While in school, I worked at three internships (one with The Hettema Group, where I got to help design the Hello Kitty theme park that just opened in Shanghai, and one with La Luz de Jesus Gallery, where I designed their 25th anniversary book). I cannot recommend doing an internship enough. I met lots of amazing people and mentors who are still friends today.
After I graduated, I worked for a year and a half as an in-house graphic designer at FIDM, and then another year and a half as an in-house packaging designer at Mattel. While working full time, I continued to take on freelance work and develop personal work. I started participating in craft fairs and comic cons, which gave me a deadline outside of client work to force myself to make personal work. I just wanted to work and continually get better! It finally came to the point that I basically had two full-time jobs and I realized prolonged sleep deprivation turns you into a gollum-y human with rocks for shoulders and cranky social skills. After much thought and preparation (meaning saving those dollar bill$), in October 2014 I decided to take the leap and work for myself as a full-time freelancer. I still working on those rocks in my shoulders though.
What artists do you look to for inspiration?
I have a lot of favorite artists, from a variety of fields, whom I look to for inspiration. These artists include: Mary Blair, Charley Harper, Henri Matisse, Rene Gruau, Fred Moore, M. Sasek, Alice and Martin Provensen, Robert McGinnis, Saul Bass, Jean Gabriel Domergue, Ulyana Sargeenko, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Wes Anderson, to name a few. My illustration Pinterest board is a good place to see what inspires me.
It should be said that most of the time now, I don't look to other visual artists who are in the same field as I am for inspiration. I think looking to other artists and trying on different styles is great in the beginning of your practice, but eventually you need to stop looking or you just become a copy of a copy.
Honestly I get the most inspired when I have a change of scenery, when I take a long drive, or when I'm focusing on something completely different (i.e. when I'm brushing my teeth or taking a shower). I find reading or traveling the best way to fill my well of inspiration.
What do you do when you get art block (the eternal struggle)?
I stop making art. I change course, and I take a break for a walk, focus on something else (usually something menial like washing the dishes or doing laundry), or if it's a real big fat mean art block, I'll schedule a weekend trip or a long vacation. I read. I meditate (I'd highly recommend the Headspace app). I talk it out with friends. Sometimes I go back to just making master copies of drawings from other people's work, just so I can focus on the act of drawing and not the pressure of creating something new.
Where did you learn your gouache technique?
While in art school, I took an amazing gouache techniques class with a master painter, Mike Humphries. He painted the backgrounds on the Hunchback of Notre Dame and many other Disney films – ALL WITH REAL PAINT. I learned a lot of great techniques, and then it was through a ton of hours of practice and trial-and-error in the last four years.
At what point did you think, "Yea! I AM a professional artist"?
When I got my first paying job to draw something.
Where do you get your prints printed? What printer/paper do you use?
I make my prints in my studio, on a large format archival ink Epson printer like this one. Depending on the print, I either use Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper or Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper.
What brushes and paint brands do you use?
I use Winsor & Newton Designers' Gouache for painting. I also sometimes use Daler Rowney Gouache or Holbein Acryla Gouache. Gouache can be tricky to learn, but if you're used to painting with acrylics, Acryla Gouache is a good stepping stone to learn gouache. It acts more like acrylic paint when wet, and then dries to a nice flat matte, like gouache. I use Da Vinci brushes and Princeton Select brushes, along with some tiny nail art brushes my friend gives me from Hong Kong. I also clean my brushes frequently with this good old fashioned brush cleaner, which probably hasn't changed its packaging since 1910.
Do you do personal commissions?
No, I am not taking personal commissions at this time.