Could you give us a brief overview of your art background (when you first became interested in art, education, work history, etc…)
Like most artists, I’ve been drawing steadily since I could grip a crayon. I entered and won a lot of art contests growing up which must have made me think I might be able to pull off an art career. I ended up studying fine art and illustration at SVA in NYC and The Accademia di Belle Arti, in Florence.
Some of my earliest jobs included illustrating for a fashion label’s ad campaigns, production art at Archie Comics, body painting models for runway shows, book illustration, short animations for commercials…just all across the board. I’ve been lucky in that through it all, all my jobs have been art related. For the last several years my job title has been “Character Designer” and “Concept Artist”. I’ve been designing original characters as well as working with existing properties. This was most often for video games (Nintendo), dolls (Disney princesses and MGA Entertainment), and most recently for TV animation (Nickelodeon’s Dora & Friends).
Describe some of the jobs you have done professionally how they have helped develop your artistic skills.
Some years ago, I was designing characters soley for video games which meant lots of model sheets and drawing each character from all angles, making sure that everything lined up perfectly. After doing that for a few years my spatial abilities sharpened and I was better able to rotate figures and objects in my head instead of looking for someone to pose for me. That job also provided me with a Cintiq, and I started to get more comfortable sketching directly in the computer from scratch.
Most of the jobs I’ve done have also helped me become more efficient; to figure out what the client needed and deliver something that they were happy with in the first round. Being able to save myself from multiple rounds of revisions was invaluable.
Has it been hard to balance being a professional artist around family life/personal life?
Balancing everything was pretty easy before having kids. I managed to keep a pretty flexible schedule and could generally do anything anytime and anywhere as long as I met my deadlines.
I’ve always worked from a home office (with the occasional meeting at studio headquarters) so it wasn’t an enormous change to add a kid into the mix. But I’ve definitely had to become much MUCH more structured with my time and more selective about the work I choose to take on. It’s a bit exhausting and I don’t have as much free time as I used to, but avoiding a commute allows me to watch my child grow up and still remain fully in the workforce.
Do you have a preference between working with digital or traditional methods? Could you give a couple reasons why?
I was clearing out a closet the other day and found my old art supplies – oils, charcoal, sculpting tools, etc. There is a part of me misses using traditional media, but I will admit that I prefer to work digitally because of the almighty UNDO button. It’s hard to give that button up! Sure paints are romantic and beautiful, but they’re also smelly and they take a long time to dry. I do however still use pencil and paper to sketch. Most of my artwork starts out as a pencil drawing scanned into the computer.
Are there any artistic disciplines (sculpture, painting, photography, fashion, etc, anything….) that you have a passion for?
There was a time I wanted to be an animator for feature animation. In high school I taught myself how to animate, learned everything I could about the craft and planned to pursue that as I entered college…but then 3D movies suddenly took over the industry so I went in another direction. I still follow animation closely and have a great love for it but ultimately I’m glad I made that decision.
Is there a type of art that you’ve always wanted to learn?
I never got around to learning Illustrator and I’ve always wanted to have that under my belt. In my opinion vector oftentimes comes off cold and stiff, but as a commercial artist there are real advantages to knowing that program.
Based on your professional experiences, do you have any advice for aspiring young women artists?
Let’s see. Network network network, and if you can do it while being sincere and actually creating friendships within your chosen industry it won’t feel forced or become a chore and it will take on a beautiful life of it’s own. Do NOT work for free (or next to nothing), ever! Not only are you screwing yourself over but you’re hurting everyone else. Avoid taking jobs that you aren’t interested in – you want to be able to fill your portfolio with the kind of work you enjoy, because clients will see what you’ve already done and will usually want to hire you to do more of the same. I could go on but I’ll end with a big fat “Don’t give up!”.