Artist Spotlight: Bombshell with Olivia De Berardinis

**Featured Image for this article.** BATMAN RETURNS and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s16). “Chat Noir,” featuring model Michelle Pfeiffer, 2018. Artwork  ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

GDG is starting off 2019 strong with an Artist Spotlight feature on the legendary pinup painter and one of the most successful and accomplished women artists of our time, Olivia De Berardinis! 

Members recently had the unique opportunity to ask questions about Olivia’s experiences as a woman artist making pinup and erotic fantasy art for 40 years. Getting her start back when creating pinup art was an industry that was typically lead and dominated by men when she started out in the mid 70’s. Olivia is living proof that you can break down barriers, and be a successful artist and business woman at any age!

Olivia De Berardinis was born in Long Beach, CA and spent most of her childhood on the East Coast. As stated in her book Malibu Cheesecake, as an only child, her parents set pencils and stacks of paper in front of her to keep her busy.

Magic Happens When An Artist Sees Their First Muse. For Olivia It Was Her Mother Connie, a WWII Veteran

Olivia’s Mother Connie, who was a WWII Women’s Army Corps member and is her very first Muse.

Her drawings were of a Barbie-like character that was inspired by her first muse, her mother Connie.

She would often entertain her daughter with her bad impersonations of Jean Harlow, Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor – all who were major sex symbols of their time. Olivia would observe her and the way people reacted to her, and this amused Olivia. 

Connie posing in one of the dresses that she made and won an award for while attending the Traphagen School of Design in the early 50s.

Connie was a beautiful tomboy with a voluptuous body. She was a pre-war Rosie-the-Riveter, an Army Veteran of World War II, and a working woman. Connie had strong ambitions and she attended the Traphagen School of Design part-time in the early 50s when Olivia was a baby. (The school was founded in 1923 by Ethel Traphagen, who was more commonly known as the Woman Who Pioneered Pants in the 1920s and 30s.) 

After WWII ended, at that time women were often encouraged to give up their jobs and go back to housekeeping. Connie instead sought all kinds of employment and she had hopes of designing and creating one day, only to be dashed by reality. She had a strong desire to work, and a creative job in the fashion industry was unfortunately just not available for her. Nevertheless, Connie prevailed and Olivia still witnessed her Mother fight and win battles while wearing seamed stockings and high heels.

Olivia's Time in N.Y. Art School

From 1967 to 1970, Olivia attended the New York School of Visual Arts. In the early 70’s she moved to Soho and was creating minimalist canvases. There was very little art by women hanging on the walls of the Soho Art Galleries. So Olivia returned to the skills she had gained as a child, painting women. She left the waitress-nightlife culture and started illustrating regularly for sex magazines, working for periodicals and paperback publishers, advertisements, and movie posters. 

Olivia’s Student I.D. from the School of Visual Arts in N.Y.

“Necessity shaped my career.”

I thought illustrating for sex magazines might be a fun temporary job until my ‘real’ career started. In the back of my mind I believed I would go back to the fine arts. It wasn’t clear to me then, but this work became my art.”

In 1977, she and partner Joel Beren started the O Card Company to publish Olivia’s work as greeting cards. In 1979, she married Joel in New York City. They created another company, Ozone Productions, Ltd., to sell and license Olivia’s artwork. In 1987, they moved from Manhattan, New York to Malibu, California, where they currently reside.

Since then Olivia’s work has been featured in Playboy magazine, Heavy Metal, Sideshow Collectibles and much, much more! Her artwork is collected by fans all over the world and has also been showcased in art galleries across the United States and in Japan. 

**The Featured Image for this article.** Olivia’s WIP of her  painting for Sideshow Collectibles. BATMAN RETURNS and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s16). “Chat Noir” featuring model Michelle Pfeiffer, 2018. Artwork  ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

Olivia had over 15 one-woman shows at the Tamara Bane Gallery in LA. from 1987 to 2003.

A regular contributor to Playboy magazine, from 1985 – 2016. She was on the cover of Heavy Metal magazine, 14 times, from 1985 to 1997. There will be a cover in 2019!

Currently she is working on popular culture icons such as Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Princess Leia, and distributing through Sideshow Collectibles.

Olivia's work on Zoom magazine Covers ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

Olivia currently resides in Malibu, CA with her husband Joel. Art available at select galleries, Heritage Auctions, and San Diego Comic Con International. 

You can follow Olivia on:

Who or what inspired you to want to pursue creating pinups? 

Olivia: “I attended School of Visual Arts in New York City from 67 to the early 70s. After SVA I was making minimalist works of art while living in Soho and waiting tables in the Village. There was very little art by women hanging on the walls of the Soho Art Galleries. I did receive some notice, participated in a show at the Larry Aldrich Museum with some giants of the contemporary art world, but it never progressed from there.”

“MotherShip,” 1997 ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights reserved by artist.

“After a few years, frustrated by the gallery and art scene, I quit my waitress job, and began to support myself by illustrating for sex magazines. I thought it might be a fun temporary job until my “real” career started.” 

 I created a portfolio of black and white Aubrey Beardsley inspired women. They emerged from this female character I’d drawn all my life, but now she was sexually amplified by the liberated 60’s, and inspired by choreographer- Bob Fosse, master of jazz burlesque choreography. 

Television commercials for his Broadway hit, “Pippin” ran constantly, a hypnotic loop of 2 women and song-and-dance man Ben Vereen, sporting Panama hats and canes.”

From the film, “Cabaret.” Directed by  Bob Fosse. erformances by Liza Minnelli, Michael York, and Joel Grey, ABC Pictures and Allied Artists, 1972. All rights reserved.

“The movie Cabaret was in the theaters, a masterpiece of dance and direction by Fosse. This was the most charged choreography I had ever seen. I was fascinated by the bizarre, exaggerated moves, the bawdy comedy of it.”

“Piano Lady,” late 1970s ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights reserved by the artist.

“My characters were mentally animated by his dancers, as I drew women in black and white, like the notes on sheet music.” 

“I went to a news stand and wrote down the addresses of adult magazines. Many of these publications were in New York. I made appointments to see the art directors. There was something compelling about entering into this netherworld.” 

First Portfolio Sketches, 1974. ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights reserved by the artist.

There was a shortage of talented illustrators in these magazines and I thought I might get a job and learn erotic illustration. I worked obsessively for several years in my Greenwich Village apartment. I was learning subject and style on the job, and was given considerable freedom by my art directors.”

BATMAN RETURNS and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s16). “Wildcat” featuring model Michelle Pfeiffer, 2018. Artwork ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved


“My creativity blossomed. The work was fun and I was making a living.”

“I was excited by being in a man’s world. I just wasn’t supposed to be there. I liked drawing aggressive, dominant women- everything that I thought I wasn’t. In the back of my mind I believed I would go back to the fine arts.”

What’s it like being a woman in the pinup industry? Were there any challenges that you had to face to make it to the top that men did not?

Olivia: “The art and illustration world was mostly male, you constantly had to prove yourself. That was 45 years ago, some things have changed. Now I see so many talented women in all the arts, and here I’m writing to a large group of women such as the GDG.”

“Do I think it’s equal yet? No, that will still take time and the efforts of women struggling to find their place.”  

WONDER WOMAN and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s16). "Amazon Warrior," featuring Model Gal Gadot, 2018. Artwork ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

“As for any sex harassment? None, and I was out there by myself showing my portfolio. When I started I did everything back then, I went to their offices with a small portfolio, they would offer me an illustration job, I would lie about what I could do because I was new at it, went home, figured it out and delivered.  Years later, when Joel joined me in my business, I’m sure his presence discouraged any aberrant harassment.”

“I know a lot of women are looking for answers on how to start, but it was so different then than now- so I can’t really help you there. You just have to get out of your studio and meet people, get an idea of where you may fit, and if you are offered a job where you are painting or drawing, take it and learn from the experience.”

Who are some of your favorite Artists? Do you have a favorite pose or theme to draw/paint? 

Olivia: “I find almost all art inspiring, so I’m going to narrow it down to only the art that directly connects to my genre. I’ve had a long life and career, there are too many influences to isolate, to say which ones affected me the most. Since I started working in many adult magazines during the ‘70s, I focused on some of my favorite erotic artists: Lautrec, Klimt, Heinrich Kley, Beardsley,

Von Bayros, Hokusai, Utamaro, Vargas, Elvgren, Petty, Boles. I was learning on the job. I tried to change some of their male erotica to a more feminine viewpoint- men rent, I own. It made sense that I would look to Vargas as pinup inspiration, since he was in the Playboy magazines which came to my parents door since the late 50s. I do remember seeing Gustav Klimt paintings early in my life and being moved by their erotic power.

“Don’t Tread On Me,” featuring model Bettie Page. ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

What gets you through a drawing funk? We all have them sometimes!

Olivia: “I’ve had many artists blocks. Some of them can last a very long time, I worked through them. I still have them. I go on automatic until the spark comes back. I will paint through it, thinking the work won’t be exceptional in any way. Sometimes I have gone back to it and see that they did  have a spark after all- and I just didn’t recognize it because of some inner conflicts I was having. The biggest mistake, at least for me, is to stop working.”

What are some of the biggest hurdles you had to deal with promoting yourself and figuring out a plan for your business?

Olivia: “You can make all the plans you want, but life gets messy, and changes them all. You can’t predict, you just have to ride through it and reroute yourself.  Being an artist is a mental game.  Life changes you and you have to constantly adjust. Don’t assume you know exactly where you’re going to wind up as an artist- compromising can be a gift.” 

Various covers for Heavy Metal with art by ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

Your style and technique of using an airbrush for some of your paintings is very unique and distinctive, and it was often considered to be ground breaking. Along with that of pinup art made by Hajime Sorayama, who also used an airbrush technique with his paintings.

What thought process goes on in your head when you are planning out and while working on your next painting? What goes into your creative process when creating a new piece from conception to completion? 

Olivia: “My techniques are similar to the old pinup masters, Vargas and Petty. Both used the same airbrush, the old PaascheAB. One of the things I learned from them is to use mostly handwork, and polish with the airbrush.” 

“My watercolors or acrylic paintings usually start with arranging a shoot with the model and then reworking her image on tracing paper, refining, adding lingerie, stockings, etc. There is a language to pinup, the lines are simplified, almost “tooned.” Exaggerate too little or too much and the illusion can fall apart.

An example of Olivia’s airbrush work for “Scorpion,” featuring model Masuimi Max, 2018 ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights reserved by the artist.

“It took me decades to learn not to “overcook” a watercolor, to learn how to be delicate was the hardest task. I was given the Vargas Page in Playboy by Hef, in ’99. The pressure was big since I had to produce a painting every month, had big shoes to fill, and I was working with the man who created an empire based on the pinup. I did the paintings- afterwards Hugh Hefner wrote the captions.” 

What was your experience like working with Playboy and Heavy Metal?

These publications typically have a predominantly male audience and Members love that they had a female artist working with them.

Olivia: “I had a great time working for both of them, and was good friends with the publishers, Hugh Hefner and Kevin Eastman.  What a lot of people don’t understand is that most of the work that was used on the 14 covers for Heavy Metal Magazine that I did, were picked from my gallery shows. Also true for Hef, he used the art that I was showing, for over 35 party invitations.”

olivia with Hugh Hefner and Bettie Page
Olivia with Hugh Hefner and Bettie Page, holding up her artwork, “Nurse Bettie.” ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

“It wasn’t until I began painting for the “Vargas page” that I started doing consistent illustrations for Playboy, and that was mostly in the 2000s. I think a large portion of the viewership of both of these magazines were women, but they were ignored.  There were very few female illustrators who did Heavy Metal covers. Two years ago I went to the Wiki page of Heavy Metal and found no mention of any female artists. I had to make it known before my name appeared.”

“Hef was always very good to us, he gave me credits and Joel make sure we kept our copyrights. Hef did intros to many of our books, came to a few of my shows. We also got to go to all the Playboy parties.”  

"Cunning Stunt,"featuring model model Bettie Page, 2017.©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

What do you find to be sexy or that you believe has great sex appeal? 

Olivia: “Confidence and a great sense of humor.”

Do you find pinups empowering to women?

Olivia: “The art of pinup’s over-the-top sexuality always made me laugh- I find the game of sex funny.  When I started illustrating for the adult magazines I wanted to create a more “present” woman, who was in control and had an active part in the sexual act.” 

“Kaida,” featuring model Masuimi Max, 2018.©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

I was always disappointed by the crudeness of how women were depicted in American erotica. There was no power, personality or nuance. 





“I can’t speak for other women. Working is empowering to me. “

In your book Malibu Cheesecake, you mention that you were working as a waitress in Greenwich Village and were getting swallowed in to that type night life. You stated that you thought at the time that illustrating for sex magazines might be a fun temporary job until your “real” career in fine art started.   

If you had not made a career out of painting pinups and erotic art. What kind of fine art paintings would have been produced if you had chosen instead to pursue what you had thought was going to be that real “career” in fine art? 

Olivia: “But I did have a few decades of one woman shows in the Tamara Bane gallery, and many others galleries. I didn’t go back to do the fine art style that I was doing in the early 70s. The work was built upon the erotica I was doing for the adult magazines. I had no plan, I just kept working hoping that the path would lead me somewhere.  I was progressing but financial pressures again pushed me into commercial work. The biggest lesson over my long career is that you have to make art out of whatever job you have. It’s all a learning experience- that’s still ongoing.”  

“Boo & GiaFFant,” 2015 ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

“I have dreams like everyone else to be able to make relevant art. I keep working with the hopes that some great revelation will happen. But as many seasoned artists have found, you have to work, constantly work, for inspiration to find you. And ultimately, the process of working becomes an end in itself.”

You have been involved in creating pinup and commercial art for some time now, GDG members and the Team want to wish you a joyous 70th birthday! 

Have you noticed any changes going on in the entertainment and creative industries? Do you think that these changes will help women who are currently in or are aspiring to be creative professionals?

Olivia: “Thank you! The answer is yes I see changes happening, but they are ever so slow.”

“If you knew what it was like 40-50 years ago for women, you would say there are great changes. But if you look at the news in the last year you’d realize we’re still beginning. If you look at the news for most women around the world, you’d realize it’s still the dark ages.”

Sugarbush-Dita von Teese
“Sugarbush,” featuring model Dita Von Teese, 2007. ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

In this era of feminist history with the recent #metoo movement, what do you want to tell people who think that your images of women in bondage/submission send the wrong message?

Olivia: “This question is asking me to defend myself, and I know you didn’t mean for it to sound this way.

To clarify: #MeToo is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault, and BDSM is about a wide range of roleplaying sex with informed consent. 

Olivia:  For those who do pinup or anything erotic, stop apologizing for what you like to do. Spend less of your valuable time explaining yourself- it’s toxic. I know this from experience. I assume you’re all feminists- don’t listen to the women who don’t think you’re feminist enough. You will never make them happy. They will make you stop doing what you like to do.

Olivia working on a watercolor of a “Bettie in Bondage,” image featuring model Bettie Page, 2018. This was originally a birthday gift for Dita Von Teese. ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights reserved by the artist.

Make yourself happy, do the work you want to. Art is supposed to express yourself. I spent too many years worrying about how my work was perceived.  Here’s the bottom line- I’m a feminist and I don’t care if I don’t fit some people’s feminist guidelines. 

BATMAN RETURNS and all related characters and elements © & ™ DC Comics and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s16). “Tongue Lashing,” artwork ©Olivia De Berardinis. All rights Reserved

Do you have any recommendations for aspiring women artists that may be struggling to find their own artistic voice or style? Or who may want to put together a portfolio or pursue a career in commercial art or visual development?

Olivia: “I started my career at 25. I always painted, but I had no discipline. Before my career started I used to work every six months when I had “inspiration”. This got me nowhere. So I started by sitting in front an empty piece of paper, with a pencil, and I made sure I sat there for an hour every day and did nothing else but that. That’s how I started disciplining myself, that’s how I started the flow of ideas. Unless you’re a rock, it happens.  

“You have to work. You also have to get out of your cave. “No Fear” should be your mantra.” 

“Moon Shots,” ©Olivia De Berardinis All rights Reserved

Olivia: “I wish you all the BEST!”

2018/2019 Membership Extended to 2/2 & Info on Vol. 5 Artbook!

Are You Interested In Being A Part Of Girls Drawin Girls?

New Membership Submissions Have Been Extended to February 2nd, 2019!

Have you noticed our new teaser promo featuring Space GiGi? GDG is planning on putting together a Galaxy/Outer Space collaborative art book that will feature writing by known women in Science & Physics, and we want YOU to join and contribute!

If would like to join the ranks of the leading international group of women artists, animators, comic creators, and all around amazing ladies. Please fill out a complete application, and submit 3-5 pieces of your own original art and a $5 non-refundable submission fee through our new and easy to use new member Application form!

If you are selected, the $5 submission fee will go toward your membership dues and it is required upon submission. Of the 3 art pieces that you submit, please include at least one of the pieces be of a female. Our FAQ & Membership Info page is now live if you have questions about joining GDG and about what the Group is all about.

Wondering What Kind Of Art You Should Send?

We are looking for new members that demonstrate an understanding of anatomy, form, and convey a sense of their own personal style. Don’t be shy! We have members of many different skill levels and career types. The Group is about empowering and supporting one another as we continue to pursue our artistic journey and goals!

Our Art Submission Guidelines page shares more information and examples of what kind of approach we are looking for in your art submissions.

Artist Spotlight: Jen Fong Shares How to Build Confidence as an Artist

Where are you from / currently live?

San Diego, CA

Could you give us a brief overview of your art background? Do you know when you first became interested in art? 

“When I was 5 years old, I would hang out at the restaurant my Mom worked at and her customer, Joe, would draw portraits on a napkin.  He would let me sit with him and watch. I was fascinated at what he could do and I started drawing excessively since that day.”

“In my adolescence I got into comic books (X-Men and WildC.A.T.S.) which has greatly influenced my style of illustrating. I attended the Art Institute of CA where I got a degree in Media Arts and Animation and was hired as a Concept Artist Intern at Sony Online Entertainment, working on Free Realms. Since then I’ve done mostly freelance projects including children’s games and books, and work full time as a Graphic Designer.” 

“Frida Blooming,” by Jen Fong

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

“I learned so much at Sony Online Entertainment where I interned for a few months. It was awesome to be part of team and work so closely with the concept artists!”

“Drawing environments and perspective was not my strong point, it definitely helped sharpen those skills. When I worked  children’s books and games as a freelancer, I got to be more playful and creative with designing monsters and creatures, it was really fun and allowed me to experiment with my imagination.”

What artist influences your style the most?

“Joe Madureira”

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

“The biggest struggle I experienced was setting a price when I bid on freelance projects. It took me a while to really assert my worth and build my confidence as an artist.”

Where do you find your inspiration for your art?

“My art is greatly inspired by human anatomy and music.”

“Escape,” by Jen Fong

Have you ever experienced self doubt or lack of confidence as an artist?  If so, how do you overcome it?

“Sure I did. I still have those moments, and when I am caught in it, I pause and let all the things I am telling myself out… and then I pick up my pencil and remind myself that I don’t have to be perfect…”

“I just have to keep practicing at those parts I am not confident about. I like to surround myself with art that inspires me and gets me motivated to be better.”

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

“I knew that creating art, whatever form that may be, was something that will always be a part of my  life.”

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

“I’ve always wanted to learn watercolor. I find it incredibly intriguing and beautiful.”

“Mermaid,” by Jen Fong

Who is the most influential woman artist for you?

“Claire Wendling, hands down.”

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

“To aspiring women artists out there, my advice would be to learn and grow your art as much as as possible.”

“The learning never stops.  To stand your ground in confidence, yet allow yourself to be humbled by constructive criticism… it will only make you better. Above all, follow your heart and allow yourself to experiment with your expression and imagination!”

Artist Spotlight: Joan Varitek on Evolving Your Creative Talents

Where are you from / currently live?

I’m from Chicago and now live in Los Angeles.

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

I attended Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design as an Illustration and Sequential Art major, freelanced as an Illustrator for 10 years before beginning a Staff Artist position.

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

My current work as a Children’s Educational Product Illustrator involves drawing characters in the house style, which is very classically cartoony. So it’s pushed me to focus less on realistic anatomy and perspective, and more on graphic composition and color design. Focusing on those fundamentals of design has in turn improved my personal, more figurative work!

What artist influences your style the most?

Not one specific artist but I’m influenced by a blend of artistic movements like 50’s pinup art, 60’s animation, comic books and advertising art, and 80’s-90’s anime and manga

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

Craftsmanship and attention to detail! I love to work fast and loose but it pays off when I can be patient enough to refine something.

Where do you find your inspiration for your art?

In culture and relationships, I love depicting emotions and ways people affect one another or communicate.

Have you ever experienced self doubt or lack of confidence as an artist?  If so, how do you overcome it?

I think all artists feel that way sometimes. The best way to overcome those feelings of inadequacy is to not compare to others, and focus on your own trajectory. Easier said than done though!

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Yes, since childhood.

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


Who is the most influential woman artist for you?

Yuko Shimizu is an endlessly inspiring illustrator and teacher; her ink drawings are unmistakable!

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

Get everything in writing, don’t undercut other illustrators by offering too low of a rate, and be assertive!

Artist Spotlight: Loren Petty

Where are you from / currently live?

LP: “Henderson, NV

Could you give us a brief overview of your art background? Do you know when you first became interested in art?

LP: “I first got into art when I was a kid because my uncle was an artist. I loved my uncle’s work and I wanted to be able to draw like him. I continued art throughout my schooling and went to a specialty arts high school to keep studying. I got my Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts and Animation and have done freelance sporadically over the years, but I mostly just do art that makes me happy now.”

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

LP: “In the past I’ve worked on a children’s book and an illustration for a mascot of a pet supply company. Recently I just finished up illustrating a comic that is in the lettering process right now and will hopefully come out soon. I think what I learned from these projects is that keeping yourself on a schedule and giving yourself deadlines helps to keep me on track. I also learned that being persistent is worth it because at the end, when you look back at the project, you get to see how all of your hard work has come together. That’s a really good feeling for me.

Has anyone compared your style to anyone else’s?  If so, how does that make you feel?

LP: “Not that I can recall. I’ve always had people say that I drew characters that either looked like me or characters I didn’t know. It use to bother me a lot, but not so much now. Nothing is 100% original and as long as I still enjoy it regardless, I think I could be happy.”

What have been your biggest obstacle to overcome as an artist?

LP: “Energy levels and thinking too much about where I’ve ended up. Being tired a lot of the times makes me not want to draw, but mostly thinking about how much time and money I spent trying to get into the industry and not making it really dampers my mood.”

“However, I do have things that help get me inspired again and help me to not feel so bad about where I’m at now. I just do my best to move forward and enjoy what I do.”

If you ever feel an artistic block, what do you do?

LP: “I typically scroll on instagram, tumbler and mostly, but sometimes pinterest too. Just seeing art gets me so inspired to create. Music is another huge factor too. I’ll listen to a song that creates vivid imagery for me and that’ll help to get the ideas flowing again.”

Have you ever experienced self doubt or lack of confidence as an artist?  If so, how do you overcome it?

LP: “I have and I still do. I feel that I’m not good enough and that sometimes I shouldn’t try, but then I remind myself that I’m just doing my art for me. That if I like it and no one else does, that’s ok. I just want to be happy making art and enjoying the process.”

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

LP: “Always. Even when I thought about being a vet or an astronaut, I still trying to find a way to involve art in everything. It’s a constant in my life.”

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

LP: “I’ve always loved classical paintings. I’d love to learn how to make gorgeous paintings with a softness and a depth that only those old paintings seem to carry. Also, sculpture. Sculpting is just so fun and I’d love to learn to do it better.”

Who is the most influential woman artist for you?

LP: “JAW Cooper. Her work is beautiful and inspirational to me. It has that dark yet hauntingly beautiful aura that I love.”

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

LP: “The industry is tough. Just keep pushing if you want to make it in that realm but don’t burn yourself out either. You don’t need sacrifice your health to show someone that you’re worthy.”

Follow more of Loren Petty’s Art on Instagram @lorenpettyart

Artist Spotlight: Liz Masters on Exceeding Industry Standards

 Where are you from / currently live?

LM: Currently I am based in Burbank, CA. Originally I hail from a small town in rural Pennsylvania.

Could you give us a brief overview of your art background? Do you know when you first became interested in art?

LM: My parents encouraged me to be creative from a young age. I remember coloring in books with my Mom, and wishing that I was as talented as she is. By high school, drawing was my strongest skill and my favorite escape.

When I found “Faeries” by Brian Froud and Allen Lee at the local library, I knew that I wanted to become an Illustrator! There wasn’t much information available about how to make that happen. I earned an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Design, a BFA in Illustration, and started sending out samples. In the end, I had to move clear across the country to find enough solid clients to sustain a full-time career.

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

LM: As a freelancer I painted wine labels, illustrated storyboards, and sketched concepts for both advertising agencies and film studios. During 2014, I was honored to assist Universal Pictures with the dinosaur character style guide for “Jurassic World.” As the full-time illustrator for Home Brew Agency, I design stickers for social media, emojis, posters, and game assets. Each day my skills are tested, stretched, and improved. I practice my craft well over 45 hours per week. The demands of the advertising industry require an artist to be fast, versatile, and efficient under pressure.

Has anyone compared your style to anyone else’s?  If so, how does that make you feel?

LM: No, actually. One of my biggest struggles has been to settle into one style. The ability to switch styles through out the day is one of best strengths. I am actively working toward establishing my own style after hours.

What have been your biggest obstacle to overcome as an artist?

LM: Sticking to one idea! I tend to start lots of projects. Fortunately, I have finally found something that I can get lost in for a long time. I have lots of ideas for enamel pins, and have been sketching nightly. I even launched a Kickstarter!

If you ever feel an artistic block, what do you do?

LM: I will just start sketching (anything). An object near by, a piece of wild life reference, a friend, even a house plant. The physical act of drawing will spark an idea.

Have you ever experienced self doubt or lack of confidence as an artist?  If so, how do you overcome it?

LM: Getting a freelance career off of the ground required a lot of hard work and determination. I was not an instant success. Basically I just kept picking myself up and starting over until it worked.

If I wasn’t good enough to find consistent work yet, I would keep drawing until I was skilled enough. Networking at CTNx and on social media was a major boost.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

LM: Absolutely.

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

LM: Sculpture. I took an ecorche course in grad school, and I love maquettes.

Who is the most influential woman artist for you?

LM: Terry Whitlatch was generous with her time and wisdom while I was in grad school. She is an extremely talented, kind and thoughtful artist. I love her work and I took all of her advice to heart.

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

LM: Never quit. Network with professionals and listen to successful artists who take you under their wing. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you cannot (or should not) do this. If you truly want to be a professional artist, devote yourself to it!

Draw daily. Don’t skip too much sleep though, and remember to take a walk once in a while. Don Bluth told me to find time to enjoy a personal life, too. He is right. Inspiration is outside the door!

Follow Liz Masters on her website Here to see more of her spectacular art!

Artist Spotlight: Asher Benson Talks Rudicorn Series & Learning to Speak Up!

Where are you from / currently live?

AB: I’m from Wilmington, DE and I currently live in Laveen, AZ

Could you give us a brief overview of your art background (when you first became interested in art, education, work history, etc…) we just need a couple sentences, doesn’t have to be full bio. 

AB: I always loved art and grew up in a household that didn’t hold me back from it. I was fortunate. I went to Cab Calloway School of Art in Wilmington, DE and then went on to Delaware College of Art and Design, and finished my Fine Art Bachelors degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I’m currently in school for a Master in Toy Design. 

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

AB: I was relentless with Mattel, and finally was given the chance to take the test for Monster High some years ago. This really showed me the level of organization they required from their artists, and helped to make transitioning between various companies easier. I’ve worked on Polly Pocket and Disney Princess concept work for Hasbro, and Hairdorables rendering is my most recent work for Just Play. There are others, but I think these shaped my process the most.

Is it challenging to find your personal identity as an artist?

AB: It is extremely difficult. Most people feel they have to relate to something or put your work into a category they’re familiar with in order to approach you at conventions. And perspective clients, seem to also put you into one category. I can say that years ago, I was turned down for work from Hasbro, because someone on the team thought my work was too “edgy”. Sometimes you have to speak up, and other times, you just have to simply smile and nod.

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

AB: One of my biggest struggles is finding a platform for my work. Living in Arizona, I’m not very close to many conventions or areas where I can show what I can do all year round. I’ve also attempted to try for jobs that I would absolutely love, but they’re out of state, and no  matter how willing you are to move quickly, they’ll usually pick the person local to the area around them.

I’m not someone who can take that leap of faith and just hope that a position comes around in order to pay my bills, so I do the best I can to travel out of state to platforms where I can reach new groups of people.

What is the inspiration behind your “Rudicorn” series?

AB: I think my inspiration behind the Rudicorns, is that I’ve always tried to be as pleasant and understanding as I can when conversing with anyone, but I also find that there are ones that take advantage of it.  In “polite society”, you still have to get along with everyone, even if you’re annoyed about something and you just want to give them a piece of your mind.

This was an outlet for me to be snarky and to just let some of those frustrations go. I tried to come up with a set of unicorns at the time that were the all around kind and filled with love types, but the longer I looked at them…I really wondered if that’s how they’d act. I said to myself at 3am…”You wouldn’t be kind. You’d be awful…pretty awful!!” And tagline was born along with my Rudicorns brand.

Have you ever experienced self doubt or lack of confidence as an artist?  If so, how do you overcome it?

AB: That’s my constant. I’m always second guessing myself and the decisions I make, and to be brutally honest, I’m my worst critic! But I know that I can be as weepy and sad about circumstances, but I can’t stop moving forward. Even at my worst, I gave myself a few days to attend my pity party, and then I burned that place down to the ground as I left. If I stay in my disappointment, and self loathing, what gets done?! Who will fight my fights for me? Does anything ever change if I refuse to change? I

n order to get some of that negativity out of my head, I keep busy….VERY busy. I plan the next project, maybe several. I plan for my next convention, or I apply for that job I really want, I just throw as many well placed balls in the air as possible that I know…and that’s the key…know that I can handle when they all start coming down. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Do you think it is common or artistic types of people to experience self doubt?

AB: I think anyone experiences self doubt at some time in their lives. If they say they haven’t, then they’d be lying. It’s normal. You want to have the best possible outcome, but there’s no cheat sheet to life, so some of those decisions and outcomes are going to be hard on you.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

AB: Yes, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I started out wanting to be an animator, which is why I have a Fine Arts degree in Animation, but I quickly found my love in concept designs and I was fortunate to have family that supported my ambition and goals.

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

AB: I always wanted to learn 3D imagery. I’m in school partially because of that now.

Who is the most influential woman artist for you?

AB: Honestly my biggest influence is my mother. She used to draw and still likes to joke that I “sucked it out of her”, but those little doodles she used to do for me where significant and irreplaceable parts of my childhood.

You don’t have to be the most talented, or the top artist of your field to be influential. It’s how you carry yourself, the care you show in your work, and how you develop relationships with others around you. Even making my favorite Disney princess, I don’t think she truly understood how that shaped my path. So, thanks Kathy. You’re my biggest influence and I couldn’t be more grateful.

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

AB: Stop apologizing and speak up!

I struggle with this, and never realized how many times I’ve said, “I’m sorry” to people I’ve done nothing to… I’ve even said I’m sorry to inanimate objects! It was built into me, and I feel like this makes me come off as shy and more easier to push around. I never raised my voice as a kid, and this followed me through high school and college.

It still hinders me at work, and I find that I have to exert extra effort to be heard because again, it was a habit I learned to commit to when I was little. You don’t have to fade into the background, you’re allowed to have a voice and you’re allowed to reach for the same goals as everyone else around you. So speak up and stop apologizing for going for what you want.

Thanks Asher for bringing up some really good points! Please show her some love in the comment section below!

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have to use extra energy to make yourself heard?

Speaking up for yourself as an Artist and as a woman in the professional world can be challenging for some.

If you find that a habit of not speaking up is causing you to experience negative interactions professionally; like being undermined or ignored and therefore are not being respected. Don’t be afraid to take the time to find ways or seek help for overcoming habits that you feel are not helping you advance in your personal life, career, and abilities.

Remember that confidence comes with strong actions! It’s okay to naturally be a quiet or reserved person, but in the end the amount of work that you put into a project should demonstrate your strengths and abilities.

Once you find your voice, don’t be afraid to use it and show people that you are a boss babe that is confident in your abilities and deserve respect and recognition for your hard work!

Artist Spotlight: Rosana Iarusso

Where are you from / currently live?

RI: I’m from and live in New York!

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

RI: I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil so art has always been a part of my life. I owe a lot to my elementary school art teacher, he actually taught us about perspective and proportions of the face very early on, so that was a tremendous help later down the line. 

I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and earned my BFA in Illustration and took a bunch of CGMA/Schoolism character design classes. Currently, I’m working as a graphic designer and freelance character designer/illustrator. 

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

RI: I had a character design job for a music video where I had to come up with designs for a bunch of 1930s style characters.

It helped me learn how to draw and tackle a different art style than my own. (On top of helping me work on my turn around skills.)

What artist influences your style the most?

RI: There’s a bunch, so this is a tough one. I’d say the following list of artists are ones that I admire and look up to their work a lot whether they are still around or not: Mary Blair, Al Hirschfeld, Lorelay Bove, Amanda Jolly, Peter Emmerich, Liana Hee, Carter Goodrich, Tim Oreb, Ronald Searle and probably many many more.

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

RI: Right now one of my biggest struggles is holding myself back and figuring out where to start with some of my projects, coming up with ideas/concepts. Sometimes when I have a project in mind, I second guess myself, and the project becomes daunting and that makes it harder for me to start. 

It takes me a while to overcome this fear and I’m trying to get better at fixing this made up fear.

Where do you find your inspiration for your art?

RI: I could be inspired by anything and everything! I would say my art inspiration these days are very much inspired by fashion (especially 50s fashion), mid century modern items, people on the NYC streets, music and the seasons of the year.

Have you ever experienced self doubt or lack of confidence as an artist?  If so, how do you overcome it?

RI: Yes, a lot of the time I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Usually, that means I need to take a minute/a break 

from what I’m doing and try something new. I tend to flip flop from digital art to painting something and most recently I’ve tried embroidery. So that and asking myself how can I switch up this drawing usually helps keep me from becoming stale and creating fresh work.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

RI: Yes, I think so! When I was little I think I might have wanted to be an art teacher for a very brief moment!

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

RI: I would love to try sculpting one of my characters one of these days! Or lino cut and plein air looks fun!

Who is the most influential woman artist for you?

RI: Right now there are two. 

Mary Blair, her paintings and use of color are always so inspiring and definitely one of my good friends, Kristen Sgalambro, she creates amazing paper art and has this crazy drive & work ethic, I definitely look up to her a lot. 

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

RI: I’d say to keep drawing no matter if anyone (or yourself) tells you other wise, you can do it! 

Create things that you enjoy; your work will show if you’re having fun or not so try and remember to have fun while creating! 🙂 

Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment for Rosana! 


Artist Spotlight: 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: 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.

Leave a comment or question for Jennifer below.