What kind of stories and projects are you working on lately?
I’ve been itching to do a children’s book lately, since I really want to let loose and bring some fun into my drawings. I enjoy drawing weird things, like monsters and strange animals with bulging eyes and random patches of hair, and I’ve doodled a few before deciding to come up with a story about an ugly– yet beautiful– dog. At the same time, another part of me likes drawing dark, moodier things, and I find myself sketching out illustrations like that, and sometimes finishing them.
I’ve kept a sketchbook since I can remember. At first it was full of hideous self-portraits and deformed horses (all of which at the age of 10 or so I thought were amazing), but as I entered my teen years I started look at things other than textbook and museum art. I found anime, and I found Ralph Steadman. Some people look down on anime/manga-style drawings, but it taught me that things don’t have to look realistic to be functional. As for Ralph Steadman, I wanted to be him. Or live my life as his work, if I could only transform into a drawing. There was more simplicity in my drawings than in his, with cleaner lines (perhaps due to the fact that I spent a while drawings an obscene number of anime characters), but I mimicked what I could, adding texture and exaggerating to the best of my abilities with my Walgreens-bought pens and colored pencils. I had a style going on, but somehow after leaving Vassar College and going into Pratt, I reverted back and thought that all “real” art had to be painted. After a semester of mediocre paintings, one of my awesome professors, Cheryl Gross, looked at my sketchbook, saw my black and white line work, and taught me how to color in Photoshop. Best. Lesson. Ever. As I got better at Photoshop, my style started gaining more texture and my drawing improved. I also experimented with linocuts recently, and have found using them a great tool in terms of thinking about composition and color. And they have a great organic texture!
I must have india ink, a small brush, and a dip pen, though in some cases, just a few Micron or Faber-Castell black pens will do. I could do a black and white illustration with just that. But I really do love Photoshop. I can fix things, I can add things, I can take them away again and compare between different versions. It allows me to see thousands of options before deciding on a final product, and I really love it just for that. Plus, then I only have to carry around my laptop and a Wacom tablet for a large part of my work, so I can take in anywhere.
I have this nagging feeling that as soon as I answer this, I’ll think of at least a dozen more artists I would answer this question with, but for now I’d have to say my old favorite, Ralph Steadman. Though if I met him, I have no idea what I would do or say. Please let me live and frolic amongst your lines and splashes of color? His work is so loose, so inky, and so insanely alive that it boggles my mind. Though I no longer want to mimic him, every time I set pen/brush/pencil to paper, I aim to have that same vivaciousness exist in my own work.