Artist Spotlight: Jennifer Llewellyn

GDG: Where are you from and where do you live now? 

JL: I’m currently residing Westbank Kelowna in Canada.   I am living right off the beautiful Okanagan Lake.

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

JL: I’ve always had a passion for drawing, as kids we never had coloring books. My mom would draw any character we requested and we got to color it. Watching her draw and doodle all day every day, sparked an early interest in drawing. However it was when I saw my first movie in a theatre “The Little Mermaid”, that I fell in love with animation. Followed by many art teachers that saw my passion, and helped me reach my dreams.

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

JL: Wowza, how do I narrow down 17 years of work into a few sentences… Yeti Farm: Oh how I wish I could share what I’m working on now. A bucket list item checked off! Charmed Playhouses: Working with Tyson and his team for the TLC (Now Animal Planet) tv show. Has been truly amazing. Drawing live with clients, and their children is an incredible experience. Children have an endless imagination and this work always me to reopen mine. Tysons team of craftsman are truly incredible artists. The Chuck Jones Gallery: Working with the Chuck Jones Gallery on a piece for Comic Con, was truly a dream come true. Bob Godfrey taught us how to animate bug bunny. The day this opportunity came about reminded me of all his lessons. Sally’s Salon, Spa, Studio: Working with a team of 6 men and 2 women to produce a title targeted at women, was one of the most interesting experiences of my life.  Many challenges met with much success. The Sally’s series taught me a lot about women in games, and the real challenges we face. I think it’s important to remember we are of equal value.  Although the product was ultimately abandoned when the studio went under. We will always have these memories.

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

JL: I don’t feel that I even have a “style”, of course being taught under Charles at Vanarts has given me a Disney influence, working in animation you need to be adaptable. The show style changes with each production. You need to be adaptable. With Harmony, and other programs you can’t forget the importance of this. To many schools are not stressing life drawing…. Lets stop that. The Girls however have influenced me in other ways, Laurie B has been a friend for many years now, I miss her energy and laughter. Living with Genvieve FT in Toronto was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, we laughed and learned so much at the Imaginism in house workshop. Never ask us to make soup for you, right Gen?

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

JL: Life.  I truly believe in building your visual memory bank.  Don’t just experience life behind a computer, go live it. Studying people, animals, architecture, nature, and light. There’s endless learning opportunities all around you.

GDG: What is the biggest challenge that comes with being an artist?

JL: Time: Being a professional artist means just that. It becomes who you are; it’s your hobby, turned career. You truly need to engross yourself in it. The days never seem to be long enough. Welcome to being a lifetime student. 

GDG: Do you have a preference between working with digital or traditional methods? Could you give a couple of reasons why?

JL: Oh how I long to flip paper between my fingers. Having started my career in animation with ACTUAL pencil to paper on the “Christmas Orange”. I really miss it. There’s nothing more appealing then flipping through an animated sequence. Watch the Bancroft Brothers you tube videos where they flip scenes from your childhood favorites and you will be able to drool with admiration. I do find it challenging to keep up with all the technology. Photoshop, Flash, Harmony, Maya, on and on. Like I said… lifetime student. You really need to love it.

GDG: Are there any artistic disciplines that you have a passion for?

JL: Storytelling: I’m not a writer but ask me to make up a story by the campfire and you’re in for a treat. Storytelling is the soul behind all animation, one walk through Pixar’s upstairs gallery with all the pre production art, will leave you in awe of these visual storytelling geniuses. Stop Motion: I love getting my hands dirty and sculpting. I truly love all things Laika and Aardman.

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

JL: I love Children’s books. I have worked on many but I would love to take a more Mary Blair Approach to this. There is some that just soaks you in with all of her work. The is the visual story telling I want to learn.

GDG: What is your advice to aspiring women artists?

JL: Never give up. It is very easy for people to stop pursuing art, and especially animation. The dedication to being a lifelong student is very hard for some people. I’ve seen so many TALENTED artists give up while within a hands grasp of their goal.  Learn from those that came before us. Respect those that paved the way. Keep going, keep drawing, keep building that visual memory bank.

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