Featured Artist: Arie Monroe!

GDG: Where are you from / currently live?

AM: I am originally from Kansas City Missouri and I am currently living there as well, though I often travel for work and have traveled for school to other states.

GDG: Could you give us an overview of your art background?

AM: I have always loved cartoons and animation. I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons and The Disney Afternoon and was inspired greatly by all of it. Especially The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. When I was 11 years old, I decided I would be an artist.  I have been drawing ever since.  I went to a local school for studio arts and later attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon Graphics for comics and animation.  I also worked as a caricature artist during my time in college during the summers to help me improve my craft.

After leaving the Joe Kubert School I worked at Mada Design as a illustrator for childrens books while I also freelanced and drew sketch cards. Some years later I moved to LA to mentor under an animator where I did work for Warner Brothers and Universal Studios.

I moved back to Missouri, where I currently live, to be with my family and help my mother who had been sick for a while only to find out she had lukemia.

I started my own caricature business, Drawlikecrazy Caricatures, and I also freelance doing comics and other illustration, as well as, working on personal projects.

GDG: Describe some of the jobs you have done professionally how they have helped develop your artistic skills.

AM: I have learned a great deal about what it means to work as a professional very quickly after I started working at Mada Design.  It was a very different task to complete loads of assignments in school for a grade or teachers approval.

I really learned the value of creating quality illustration for a project and how to work in a team. I also learned how picky clients could be and the challenges of trying to please them while still maintaining your artistic vision; something I still struggle with today.  It was great though, I got to illustrate many book covers, coloring books, and kids books for companies like Crayola, Dreamworks and Nickelodeon.  I really loved my time there.

Later, when working in LA, I got to learn how to paint with an airbrush as an airbrush caricature artist, and that was really fun as well. I did character clean up for Warner Brothers and it was exciting seeing my name in the credits of an animated film.

All the things I have done have informed my work with my own business and have taught me to look for what will create passion and excitement in creating and working and not just jumping from job to job, but learning what really matters to me as a artist and sharing that.  Working in caricature I get to talk to people and learn about their sensibilities instead of being isolated in a studio all the time.  I was painfully shy growing up and did not talk to people so I feel like I have come a very long way in learning to be more social and work with others, which is the most important key to working any sort of job, whether you work for yourself or you work for other people.

I am always looking to learn more and improve everyday, not just as a artist, but as a human being.

GDG: Has working around so many other GDG artists influenced your art style? If so, in what way?

AM: I love GDG! So many inspiring women are in the group and such a wonderful network to be a part of. I really enjoy looking at the ladies work and seeing how they approach drawing the female form.  It encourages me to be more and more myself in my work.  If anything, because I appreciate all the unique styles of the creators in the group and how they apply those things to their profession that is uniquely theirs. Whether it is through webcomics or animation, the inspiration is endless.

GDG: What do you find is your biggest struggle as an artist?

AM: I struggle the most with my confidence.  I constantly worry my work is not good enough.  Probably to a pretty unhealthy extent.  It is one of the things that has held me back the most in my career. Even causing me to lose freelance jobs cause I do not have confidence in my work and fear showing it to my client because I did not think they will see it as being good enough. Depending on how stressed I get my level of confidence can swing pretty low and when it is at its lowest I think I draw my worst, so I actually have learned to step away from the drawing table to rest and refresh my mind so that I can see things with fresh eyes. I started taking time to pamper myself and do things like get massages and work out at the gym.  Self care seems to be a big remedy to the confidence issue. I find my work improves once I clear my mind and rest.  When I was in school I was constantly on, wishing I didnt have to sleep so I could do more work and that translated into my work life at an even higher level because now my livelihood relied on it.  I have found that my livelihood was suffering because I was also physically wearing myself down.  I even developed a shoulder injury from long hours painting and my eyes would hurt from hours staring into a lightbox or at a computer screen.

That wear and tear can effect your ability to grow artistically and I didnt realize that, so of course my confidence suffered even more.  Now I have put equal effort into replenishing myself confidence through rest, though sometimes the stress is not worth your health.  Balance is key and everyday I feel more secure in my ability as a artist.

GDG: Where do you find your inspiration for your art?

AM: I love animation, good stories, and time with good people. When others are inspired and excited, it really gets my creative energy flowing as well!  It is refreshing to share ideas and passions with like-minded individuals.

GDG: What would be your artistic “dream job”?

AM: Someone paying me to create what I enjoy and not wanting me to change it in any way.  Just letting me be the creative person I am and accepting it.  The only changes they would offer would be to improve what I do but not change it to their vision.  As artists I feel we spend a great amount of our time recreating the visions of other people.

GDG: Is there a type of art that you‘ve always wanted to learn?

AM: Animation has always been my passion but my work ends up focusing on illustration and comics.  I would love to animate and be amazing at it in every way possible, specifically 2D animation.  I find 3D to be boring because it does not involve drawing.  I love seeing characters move.  It brings a smile to my face to see a painting dance.

GDG: Who is the most influential woman artist for you?

AM: I cannot pick just one because I have known so many and enjoyed the art of so many as well.  There is Anna Marie Cool, who encouraged me to attend the Joe Kubert School, June Brigman who helped me with figure drawing in school and did the cover of my all girls art anthology while attending Joe Kubert. There is also Afua Richardson who is a great friend and an amazing artist whose work has graced the cover of several Marvel books, including Black Panther, World of Wakanda, and so many more… and we cant forget the many artists in GDG that are all doing amazing things.

In terms of artists I dont know I love Claire Wendling, Joanna Quinn, and Joanna Davidovich…the list goes on and on.  I could never choose one.

GDG: Based on your professional experiences, do you have any advice for aspiring young women artists?

AM: Be yourself and make lots of art! Oh and get a good nights sleep. Lol!

Thanks, Arie! Readers, please leave a comment for Arie Monroe!

Artist Spotlight: Cassie Soliday

GDG: Where are you from?

CS: I’m originally from a small town in Southern Illinois but am blessed to now live in Southern California. Hmm… I see a pattern here.

GDG: Could you give us a brief overview of your art background?

CS: Like many, I grew up watching cartoons, drawing what I would see on screen, and wondering what living in these other worlds would be like.  It wasn’t until Toy Story came out that I realized that people make these movies- and those people were animators. I’ve been chasing that excitement and joy ever since.  After graduating Columbia College Chicago and taking numerous workshops to further my skills, I’ve worked in production and artistic roles at Disney, Nickelodeon, Wild Canary, to name a few.

GDG: Describe some of the jobs you have done professionally how they have helped develop your artistic skills.

CS: I used to be a sketch artisan in the Disneyland parks and it was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me artistically.  It was intense character design study everyday and the reality of how these characters & stories affect people really sunk in. I also had the opportunity to storyboard a music video for preschoolers and design props on a Nick Jr show.  In each gig, I learn something new about the work and myself as well.

GDG: Has working around so many other GDG artists influenced your art style?

CS: It’s amazing to be surrounded by so many wonderful artists.  Seeing the diversity of work being shared in the group keeps me on my toes and consistently thinking about what I’m going to make next.

GDG: Where do you find your inspiration for your art?

CS: Emotion is a major driver for anything I make- whether its capturing something I’m feeling or trying to influence someone else to feel it, too.  I find inspiration from my surroundings, people I know and love or admire, comics, books, movies, nature- it’s everywhere!

GDG: Have you ever had to struggle with self doubt as an artist?

CS: Yes! Especially when I was younger, and sometimes even now. It’s easy to play the comparison game, but once I stopped worrying about what others were doing and started focusing on what I was doing or wanted to do, it was a lot easier. I’m very purpose driven and want to put good out into the world- it takes some reminding that what we make can have a positive impact, but it’s definitely motivating to get past your demons and carry on.

GDG: What would be your artistic “dream job”?

CS: I would love to create an animated series full of magical realism. However, I’ve tried to detach my self worth from this idea of a “dream job” because in these creative industries, gigs come and go. The ultimate goal is to always use my drawing, writing, and comedy skills to work in a collaborative atmosphere to create positive and adventurous media for young audiences!

GDG: Do you have a preference between working with digital or traditional methods?

CS: I love traditional methods- there’s nothing more romantic than holding a pencil and feeling the lead leave the tip as you pull it across a sketchbook page and then adding a splash of watercolor.  It’s so tangible and imperfect at times. However, being digital is necessary- it’s just so much easier when collaborating with others and being a part of a production. Plus, Ctrl + Z.

GDG: Is there a type of art that you‘ve always wanted to learn?

CS: I’m currently learning embroidery! There are some amazing artists out there who are really challenging what the form can be- even mixing it with illustration. Mixed media is such a blue sky idea- it can literally be anything!

GDG: Do you have any advice for aspiring young women artists?

CS: Trust yourself and trust that your artistic voice is worth sharing. Someone out in the world can benefit from seeing your art or hearing your story! It’s a gift. You are a gift.

 

Did you enjoy this interview? Leave a comment for Cassie below.