Artist Spotlight – Alex Webb

Artist Spotlight – Alex Webb

Artist Spotlight - Alex Webb

iGeekOut

Shortly after Salt Lake Comic Con, 2016, iGeekOut had the opportunity to sit down and interview a talented young artist named Alex Webb. Alex, who is in the very early stages of his artistic career, shows a lot of talent and potential that belies his young age (he is a senior currently enrolled in Copper Hills HIgh School, located in West Jordan, Utah). He was nice enough to take a few minutes to answer a few questions, and provide us some exciting news as to what we could potentially expect from him in the coming years. This is one artist that we would not be surprised to make it big. Who knows, maybe he might even make it to the big time, and one day be the artist or inker for DC or Marvel Comics? The raw talent is certainly there.

When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to do what I am doing know. I always wanted to be an artist.

What originally got you interested in drawing?

I don’t remember much from my childhood, but my Mom used to say that when I was young I used to have books that I couldn’t read. [Instead] I would just stare at the pictures every night. So, for me drawing is obviously a way to express myself, but what got me into it was Comics. That I could make a living off of doing art.

How (and why) did you choose to become an artist?

I just…no matter what I have done, I always come back to drawing. I have always stopped, and whenever I did I have always felt lost. Drawing is a way for me to feel at home. I just love to draw all the time. It’s like a comfort type of thing. Some people have comfort foods, for me I have comfort drawing.

What was your first “Big Break?”

This past Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC16). It was my first time there as an exhibitor, where I was able to get a table, and set up and display my art to a large audience.

What decisions in your career do you consider the most beneficial?

Beneficial, meaning, what helped me out the most? I would just continue to read comic books. Just the thought of, you know, me being able to…my art being able to be in those books, and read around the world, has always been a drive for me.

Did you receive any formal training (i.e., schooling) to become an artist?

No. I really didn’t start taking lessons until my middle school year, and those were only school lessons. Even then, they weren’t very helpful. I have primarily been studying on my own, looking at other people’s art. I think that I excelled in such a way that they just couldn’t teach me much any more.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Most of it has been from comic books, though I am trying to listen to more music. But [unfortunately] I can’t seem to put more of my thoughts from music onto paper. It usually has to be just me, the paper, and complete silence. That’s when I can start to really create.

What is your favorite medium to work in, or with?

Pen and paper, though…hmmmm…you know, at Comic Con, there were a lot of people who asked me “Do you do digital?” To which I would usually respond “Do a lot of people do digital?” and I was told that yeah, they are. I don’t know. To me, it sounded like they are saying it is a handicap if I do digital. But, for me I would like to go into digital and see what I can do. It’s just a money thing right now that’s keeping me from doing that.

Do you draw for a target audiendce, or simply create art that you like to view?

It’s more for me. But now that I’ve gone to Comic Con, and seen all these different people who like sooo many different things, I am starting to think that I should start doing other things, and branch out a bit. Become more diverse, ya know?

How do you come up with your ideas?

Uh…it Just comes a lot from the movies [that I see], and the comics that I read. But, if I really, really like something, I usually take a long time drawing it. Inspiration also just comes from my head, you know? If I feel this is will look good on this character, I try to integrate it as much as I can.

When you start working on a project, what do you do to “Get in the Mood?”?

Beyond absolute silence, usually when I get an idea, I try to sketch it out, and try to force myself to think of it in different ways. Until I start thinking about drawing it “for real,” that’s when I have to get in the mood. Usually…usually, just drawing all day. But, now to get in the mood, I look at other artists. Before that though, I just drew. I always had something with me that I could doodle or draw on.

What is your favorite artistic style?

Honestly, it’s definitely not mine. I wish that my style could be a lot better. It’s not as tight, or as unique as I would like it to become. I have always tried to have things be more realistic, so the artist that I have really tried to influence my style is Joe Madureia. I have always tried to have styles like that. And now that I styles like this. (Pointing at artwork). I can see myself going towards it, though I can also see myself going away from it. I am trying to develop my own style, though having some elements that I like form [Joe’s work].

How do you deal with “Artist’s Block?”

It definitely does happen. I have thousands, and thousands, of screenshots of other artist’s work. I don’t publish them, or share them in any way, but when I see soemthing that I like, I try to draw it in a different way. So, it really is just trying to push past it. Push past the block, and I use other people’s art to help me out.

What is your favorite part of a project?

uh…that’s hard. Because, sometimes I love getting started, but when you get to the end and it did not turn out the way that you wanted. But to me, it’s really towards the middle. Like, that’s when you are in the grind. When you know that you have to keep going. And, in the middle is where I would stop with a lot of pieces. So, it’s just the middle, trying to get past that grind, it’s like the bliss of finishing the project.

How often do real life events impact, or influence, your work?

Definitely does impact my work. Usually, it impacts it for…some times it’s detrimental. But, if there is something hard going on in my life I tend not to draw a lot. After such an experience, I find myself drawing more and more, and if it [the experience] was bad, I try to draw more good things. Sometimes it does influence my work, it just depends on what’s going on. If it’s dark, and I draw more dark things that’s when I know I need to take a break and deal with what’s happening.

If you could pick any one artist to work with, who would it be, and why?

That’s tough, that’s very tough. I would like to see the greats from the Renaissance, you know? Like DaVinci, Michelangelo, and so on. But then, there’s a language barrier there. This is a good question, I have never really thought of it before. It’s a very good question. Straight off the top of my head, I would have to say Michelangelo. This is because he was big into sculpting, and I would love to learn that. It’s the way that he did the human body, and the way that he was so accurate. I would like to get that accuracy into my drawings. I would love to work with Michelangelo and get that accuracy into my drawings.

When working with another artist, how do you divide the work load?

I don’t do a lot of “professional” work with other artist, though there is a family that I do try to work with as much as possible to feed off them. To help me and get a real big mashup of our work. We have tried to do some collabs, but you know, their life and my life sometimes things happen where we can’t. But we have done some collabs. Usually, if we like to draw on it, we draw on it. If we don’t, then we pass it over to the other guy. We generally do the stuff we like, and pass on the stuff we don’t.

When working with another artist, how do you settle “Artistic Differences?”

Oh, man…uhmmm. It’s probably not the best idea [to have those kinds of differences]. It’s probably best to surround yourself with those who have the same interests as you. That family I love to collaborate with, one of them have this style that everyone loves. I try to be around him more often. But, I also find myself going over to this other guy’s work, and it’s very “cartoony.” I don’t know, I can’t pick and choose which one I want to follow any more.

What does a typical work day (or week) look like for you?

For me, it’s split with school and then I have newspaper as well. I actually work with my school newspaper, I am the layout guy, and I do comics for them, and I also have to draw art for them. Then, after school I stay after school to help with the newspaper, and I have swimming. Usually, I try to do it when I can, stay up late or do as much as I can on the weekends.

For comic books and graphic nocels, which is more important – story line, or the artistic depiction of story line?

I don’t know. The story is the backbone. If you don’t have a good backbone then the art is going to just fall off, and it will just reveal the bad story. A good story is crucial since you can have an excellent story, and mediocre art, and still have a fantastic comic. Now, if you have good story, and great art then you have a work of art.

What, from an artistic perspective, do you consider to be the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel?

Uhhmmm…I don’t really know the technical difference between a comic book and a graphic novel is. I think that a comic book is more for entertainment though,s oething that you can enjoy reading, and focus on the great piece of work. A graphic novel would be more on the storytelling side of things, where you can focus more on a single character and see where they go, and what they do.

What other artist, besides yourself, do you consider the most exciting right now, and why?

Oh gosh, I think it’s. I don’t know, I think…have you seen the art from the new Civil War II? I just think that it’s fantastic. I think his name is Mark Morales (it was actually David Marquez). It’s just so realistic, but then you can tell that he has also his own style. It’s just…I know I’m trying to follow after him, and develop my own style to where I want it to be.

Which of your artwork is your favorite, and why?

I don’t know if I could say any of these (Alex points to the artwork he brought with him). I think that it was a picture I drew back in elementary school. I drew this fantastic picture of Venom, and I thought the world of it. I look back on it now, and I still think it’s the greatest even though it doesn’t look as good as I thought it would be. It’s just that it was teh best that I could have drawn at that moment, and it was the one that I thought most epitomizes the skills I had at the time.

Do you have any plans to either continue, or start, a new series, and if so, how many pieces do you envision in it?

I may be working on a comic book series in the future. Ever since Comic Con I was approached by this guy, and I am thinking about it. I have two or three pictures that are with in a collection, but haven’t really tried to tell any stories (of my own) with a series of pictures. If I have done it, it may have been more by accident then design.

I know that things are rather busy for you right now, but what do you do to decompress in your offtime?

Probably bug my little brother. He’s not all that little anymore since he’s almost as tall as me. Just bug the crap out of him, or just veg out from him. When he comes home from practice, he’s just totally destroyed, and I just sit next to him and watch Netflix.

Is there anything special, or specific, that we should be keeping an eye out for?

As I said earlier, I may be working on a comic book series in the future. Ever since Comic Con I was approached by this guy, and I am thinking about it. I’m really, really, thinking about it. It’s a local, it’s called Yonder Comics, and as far as I know it’s called Cosmo-Man. My art might not be in the early issues, ’cause he is already drawing and publishing it. So, I might be involved in the later stages.

If you could say any one thing to a budding artist, what would you say?

Obviously the cheesey line of “Don’t give up.” But, it’s just to try. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You know, I’ve never shown [my work to] as many people as I did over at Comic Con. You know? Just don’t be afraid to show people your art, and you know be out there. Basically, just own it.

What personality trait is the most beneficial for an artist?

I don’t know…I would probably have to say “humble.” If you go around and show people your art, and say “Yeah, I’m the best,” it can kind of push people away. You have got to be able to say “Yeah I drew that,” but you have to be humble, and show that you are nice.

What do you consider your best work?

I would have to say it was a picture of this guy who many people at Comic Con thought was Diablo from Suicide Squad, that was actually just a Native American guy in a head-dress that was done in pen. I called it “Breaking Fate” since it shows this guy breaking chains around his hands and taking his own fate. I just felt like I rocked it, and it was my first real pen drawing.

Email:

mattchief4234@gmail.com

Instagram:

@mattchief4234

Artist Spotlight – Hannah Lynn

Artist Spotlight – Hannah Lynn

Artist Spotlight - Hannah Lynn

iGeekOut

In recent years it seems like there has been a bit of a resurgence in the popularity of coloring books among fans of all ages. Hannah Lynn is one of the most talented artists to currently be working on this fun medium. Not only is her artwork popular among younger children, but it is becoming increasingly popular among parents, and young adults. In a recent trip to Salt Lake Comic Con 2016, she was kind enough to take a moment or two and talk with the staff of iGeekOut. This interview is the result of not only that discussion, but more than a few emails being traded back and forth.

When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

First, I wanted to be a mom. Besides that, I really wanted to be an illustrator. I was always making bookmarks and selling them door to door around my neighborhood, and had my first commissioned job when I was only 11 years old. My 7th grade science teacher paid me $60 for a detailed colored pencil drawing of a bald eagle for his son’s birthday. I still tossed around many other ideas like being a doctor or a scientist, or even a teacher, since being an artist by profession was much less a possibility in my day because the internet didn’t exist yet.

What originally got you interested in drawing?

I have been drawing and coloring since before I can remember! It was just something I always did.

How (and why) did you choose to become an artist?

Ironically, I didn’t follow the path to become an artist by profession until much later in life, after I had started a family, because I grew up in the 80’s and early 90’s before the internet really existed for artists like it does now. I had taken about 10 years off of doing much in the way of art, as work and family became the main priority in my life. I picked up drawing again as a hobby for me, as I desperately needed an outlet for stress as a stay at home mom and online business student. Since I have always been entrepreneurial, I started selling my work right away on eBay, and things very slowly branched off from there.

What was your first “Big Break?”

For me, what I would consider to be the first “big break” was the moment that I knew I could actually “make it” as an artist by career, even if it meant I would still probably struggle for a bit. I had a few small contracts and had sold lots of originals and prints before I got a decent licensing contract about 6 years ago that would keep me quite busy for the minimum term of the contract, which at the time was 3 years. I was also accepted into San Diego Comic Con as an exhibitor that same year after being on the waiting list for 3 years. Up until that year I was still considering it to be a part time gig on the side, and was still looking into other options for long-term employment or other business ideas.

What decisions in your career do you consider the most beneficial?

There are lots of decisions along the way…many forks in the road. It gets a little hairy when you are making an income and you have to let go of something that is making money…but not enough money for the time you are putting in. When first starting out, you can’t say no to anything, because you have to make any dollar you can. You have to bend over backwards to make customers happy and take every job you can get. But those decisions to stop offering bookmarks online and only offer them at shows (even when a handful of people were asking for them online), for example, were ultimately the most beneficial, and the most difficult decisions to make. But, I’m the CEO of my own company, and I’m relying on the big boss to make those tough decisions for the overall health of the company, so that the talent will still have a job 30 years down the line.

Did you receive any formal training (i.e., schooling) to become an artist?

Nope! I have an Associate’s in Business and a 10-year degree from the School of Hard Knocks. When I first started, I literally went to the local craft store and got some cheap cardstock, Crayola colored pencils, an Exact-o knife, and a small cutting board so I could make the little ACEO cards I started with. I had no idea what I was doing. I scanned them and uploaded them to eBay as one-of-a-kind originals because I had no idea how to reproduce a print. As the prices of the originals went up, so did the requests for prints. I taught myself how to use Photoshop by stumbling through it so I could create prints, and upgraded my materials to higher artist’s quality pencils and pens with my earnings. I still learn new things every day in that program! I taught myself how to do a little bit of code for website editing by looking page source codes and messing with them; that’s pretty much how I’ve learned to do everything—by trial and error. You can do anything you are truly passionate about if you have the desire to learn!

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I have always loved character art, specifically eyes and female characters. Early inspiration came from my childhood cartoons and animated feature films from Walt Disney. Today, I find inspiration in almost everything around me. Something as simple as a strawberry can be the theme of a piece.

What is your favorite medium to work in, or with?

I prefer watercolor pencils and ink on heavy weight, hot press illustration board to create my pieces. Although, I do work with acrylics on wood occasionally just for fun.

Do you draw for a target audiendce, or simply create art that you like to view?

Starting out, I didn’t think people would want character art, but I was only doing it as a hobby anyway so what did I have to lose? I was excited to learn that they like what I had to offer! I have had many suggestions to do other things like landscapes or art featuring boys, but I stick to females and their animal friends! This is mainly because that is what I like to paint, and they have always sold. If you look at my early portfolio from when I was a child, it is mainly females, character art such as the Little Mermaid or animals (always cartoon style), or random female eyes surrounded by stars and such. Today, as a professional artist with a distinct brand, my artworks are very congruent and pretty consistent across the board because I aim to be recognizable and trademarked. I want people to know exactly who painted the artwork when they look at it. I do have a series that is in a different media (pencil and ink) and in a different style, but the subject matter is the same (fantasy females).

How do you come up with your ideas?

Ideas can come from absolutely anywhere! Personally, I draw them from my own personal life and from when I was a child. My artworks are very childlike, because that is when our dreams were the biggest and we didn’t place limitations on what we could accomplish, what was possible, or what was hiding in the forest. The fantasy genre is all about that. It’s all about dreaming up whatever, and being as creative as possible without any walls to contain it. It’s about taking your dreams, as crazy and as colorful as they can ever be, and making them tangible through a piece of art. You’ll also notice lots of animals and nature in my pieces, because I am an animal and an avid outdoors enthusiast. There is something so majestic about the forest and the animals that live within it; only in our dreams and through art can we build a scene in which there is a perfect forest, lush with thousand-year-old trees and strategically placed waterfalls…all while we are feeding berries to a wild deer and snuggling with a baby bear; because in reality those things elude us. There is something incredibly mysterious about the ocean, since we know so little about it; it’s like another planet with its alien like creatures and insanely colorful whimsical underwater plants…it begs the existence of a human-like creature to explore it and live in it. Everyone wants to be a mermaid and swim where no human can breathe, chat with the dolphins and play tag with sea turtles; or to be a fairy with wings that can soar high above the clouds and explore the deepest areas of the forest where all the wild animals roam undetected. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. To me, that is what art is about. It’s about going through a portal and escaping reality. Reality is average and abundant. Art is rare and intriguing.

When you start working on a project, what do you do to “Get in the Mood?”?

Google and brainstorm!! Looking at pictures of a particular theme is a great way to get in the zone. I am a visual person, so I need to flood my brain stem with the world I am about to enter. Sometimes I’ll watch movies in the style of the theme as well, like Halloween for example.

What is your favorite artistic style?

Interestingly, as much as I love fantasy art, I also really love folk art paintings of landscapes and the countryside or little towns, because they are places to escape to where everything is perfect about the human condition (also a form of fantasy he-he!). A large painting with a young couple flying a kite, the bakery just down the road, a family raking up leaves, an adorable red barn with happy cows outside of it, and a momma duck with her little ducklings in the town pond with the bench next to it waiting for you to come feed them. No fear, no sadness, no crime, no problems. [It’s] Like Heaven.

How do you deal with “Artist’s Block?”

If I have a big block, I get away. I have to hit the reset button and go out hiking, shopping, visiting with friends, etc. Most of the time it’s because I haven’t gotten out enough. There are things all around that inspire us, but if we stay in the same place looking at the same four walls all day, it can get a little dreary. The internet is helpful, but it’s not the same as just getting away to the forest for a hike, breathing the fresh air, and letting the mist from the rushing river hit your face. Or, sometimes I will use my creative energy doing something else like cooking something I’ve never made before, decorating, or gardening, until the painting muse returns.

What is your favorite part of a project?

When I first get to add color to the piece. After the concept sketch has been done, the line art has been transferred, all the major layout decisions have been made, the penciled-in details have been defined, the inking has been done, and the pencil lines underneath have been erased. All of that is work to me. The fun starts when the color comes out. My second favorite part is about in the middle, when the new world I have created is really fleshing out and my face is so close to the paper that I feel like I could just jump in and live there. That is when I wish I could share that moment with everyone, because it is unlike any other experience.

How often do real life events impact, or influence, your work?

All the time! Artists are emotional beings and most are affected by everything around them, positive or negative. The change of the seasons, the illness of a family member, coming back from vacation; they all bleed through. I got some new baby ducklings after one of mine passed away recently, and they inspired an illustration in my Enchanted Halloween Coloring Book, alongside a mermaid in a pond on an autumn day..

If you could pick any one artist to work with, who would it be, and why?

I’m kind of a loner, so I am not sure about that one!

When working with another artist, how do you divide the work load?

Again, I work alone. I have not done any collaborative projects.

What does a typical work day (or week) look like for you?

90% work like processing orders, website updating, social media, image editing, answering emails, dealing with copyright infringement cases, accounting, etc. and 10% art. I have made efforts to tip the scales in favor of creating lately, and I am accomplishing that goal slowly but surely. Outsourcing my coloring book printing/publishing to Createspace was a big one for me. Ironically, as a professional artist, I still fight for time to create and paint like someone who is moonlighting as an artist. I always joke around saying I should run away with the Circus, as the Artist Who Never Paints.

For comic books and graphic nocels, which is more important – story line, or the artistic depiction of story line?

I have never done a comic book or graphic novel. That is entirely new dimension that I haven’t explored yet, and may never.

What other artist, besides yourself, do you consider the most exciting right now, and why?

Honestly, I don’t follow a lot of other artists so that I can stay as original and authentic as possible.

Which of your artwork is your favorite, and why?

I get this question a lot, and the truth is I don’t have one! I’m just as bad as my fans. You should see me trying to choose the 10 most popular artworks for making pins for a show or something. The list ends up being 75 images long before I just give up!!! I just can’t choose; they are all like my children.

Do you have any plans to either continue, or start, a new series, and if so, how many pieces do you envision in it?

The possibilities of ideas and themes for my artwork are endless. I have at least five more coloring books planned that will take me at least the next year or two, and quite a few new storybook princess paintings to add to the portfolio.

I know that things are rather busy for you right now, but what do you do to decompress in your offtime?

I spend time with my family (husband and two girls), my animals (dogs, cats, ducks, chickens), and my garden. We recently bought a beautiful home out in the country with a couple of acres, so I spend what down time I do have just hanging around and taking in the views of the city, mountains, and canyons that surround our property, since I work from home. I kind of piddle around feeding the chickens, watering the flowers, taking a walk down to our pond, or watching the wildlife when it comes by (we get skunks, deer, rabbits, and lots of birds including owls!) which gets me some exercise and some outdoor nature time on a daily basis. One of my favorite things to do is to go out onto our big wrap around front porch when there is a thunder and lightning storm and just watch it. The sunsets are a pretty amazing treat on the porch as well. As a family, we love to go hiking, camping, or to National Parks like Yellowstone, which we are just an hour and half outside of. We have a family vacation planned in January (when it’s snowing and cold here) to Maui, and I’m very excited about that! I hope to pick up some tropical inspiration there.

Is there anything special, or specific, that we should be keeping an eye out for?

I have a very special coloring book planned that I have been keeping under serious lock and key for almost a year now; sorry no hints! I haven’t told anyone about it because I had so many others to publish before I can make this one a reality. I’m almost there. Just two more books (Christmas and Punch of Color Girls-the sketchy tattoo girl’s series) and then I can get to the one I’ve been dreaming about for the last year! It has to have the proper attention. I’m thinking of booking a writer’s style retreat to do it, so I can eliminate distractions and really get in the zone, but we will see how well real life allows for it when I get to that point and am ready to do it!

If you could say any one thing to a budding artist, what would you say?

I get this question a lot at shows where I exhibit my work. Parents will tell me that their child is talented, but they have no idea where to point them in terms of becoming an artist when they grow up. I tell them the same thing every time. Go to business school unless you have a clear designated path. Learn how to market yourself if you want to make it your living. There are as many ways to make money as an artist as there are colors in the spectrum. Do you want to be a gallery style artist, where the pieces you sell are one of a kind hanging over someone’s fireplace? Or maybe you want to be a video game designer? Do you want people to collect your artwork like they do mine, and travel to shows and do signings and talk to people? Or would you prefer to just do the artwork and have an Agent find ways to sell your work on products? Or maybe you want to be an architect and design houses or skyscrapers? Play to your strengths. My youngest is insanely talented in art already, but she is extremely talented in math as well. Add that to her natural personality traits of being a bit shy and introverted, and you have all the makings of a successful Architect there.

I have always been business-minded and have been making money on my artwork since I was five, literally selling stuff door to door, and I have an employment background in management and sales. So, I am an independent artist and entrepreneur because I enjoy creating products that people can use and enjoy in their everyday lives (like coloring books or bookmarks, or a print for their daughter’s room), and I like talking to people (not all the time, I need my quiet solitude and uninterrupted creating time). So that makes it a good fit. You are much better off taking something that you are already a six at and bringing it up to a 10, than to take something you are a two at and bringing it up to a five or six. Talent is only about 10% of this whole game. The rest of it is your passion, hustle, and building something amazing over a long period of time. Make sure you are investing in something long term rather than running after every little thing that you think will make you money. If you do things solely for the money, it will get old and it will show through in your work, or you will quit at the first real challenge (and they are coming!). In the beginning, it’s a must to explore all the different options, because you are trying to find your way and looking for what sticks. But once you find it, shed the rest and hone your focus. Then keep putting in the hours towards that and keep your eye on the prize. There are so many shiny things that are just waiting to steal your creative juices. FOCUS and have patience! You have to go through each step to get to where you are going; there are no shortcuts.

What personality trait is the most beneficial for an artist?

Being self-motivated is pretty important, because most artists are self-employed and have to be the ones to push themselves to get things done. Even under contract, or under the direction of an agent, proper time management is key since artists are generally provided a window of time in which to get things done, which offers quite a bit of wiggle room. If you are a procrastinator like me, you will use all of your wiggle room up front and then work 16 hours a day and drink five cups of coffee each day until the project is done. Let’s just say I’m not a fan of deadlines. But, most artists aren’t, because creating art isn’t much like any other job on the planet, and it requires a certain “ebb and flow” to it. Art isn’t done until it’s done, and we can’t put an ironclad time stamp on it until those hours are over. To quote a project timeline, I look at how long my last one took, double it, then think about how long I think this next one will take, triple that, and then add it to the first number; this provides a formula in which I can actually meet a deadline, and it’s still by the skin of my teeth! I can spend hours just thinking about a project, and it looks to everyone else like I’m doing nothing. But, it’s all part of the process.

What do you consider your best work?

Actually being an artist by profession. It’s one of the most difficult professions to claim for a living.

If you are interested in seeing some more of Hannah Lynn’s work, purchasing some of her great books or art pieces, or simply want to follow her, then use these links. As you can see, she has a very large social media pressence. Join the club, and see what else she has to offer!

Website:

www.HannahLynn.com

Facebook:

hannahlynnart

Twitter:

hannahlynnart

YouTube:

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Instagram:

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Artist Spotlight – Joy Liberatore

Artist Spotlight – Joy Liberatore

Artist Spotlight - Joy Liberatore

iGeekOut

Perhaps the one thing that I absolutely love the most about attending Fan Conventions, such as the recent Salt Lake Comic Con, is being able to see all the fantastic artwork centralized in the area colloqially known as “Artist’s Alley.” It is perhaps the single greatest gathering of not only the current living legends in the industry, but also the up and coming stars that people need to keep an eye out for. Joy Liberatore is perhaps one of the most talented artists that I was blessed to meet while at SLCC16, and frankly was amazed that she agreed to conduct a brief email interview with me.

When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

For a very long time, I was convinced I was going to be a veterinarian or somehow work with animals. I still did plenty of drawing as a kid and would even draw the animals I hoped to one day take care of. After a visit to Walt Disney World (and a trip to what was then the animation studio there) I realized that I wanted to draw for the rest of my life and changed courses.

What originally got you interested in drawing?

In middle school, I had a friend who would draw tons of Sailor Moon and other anime characters during class. She kept all of her drawings in clear plastic protective sheets in a neat binder and would let me look through them. And she had a story to go with every single picture. Before then, I had always drawn and illustrated homemade picture books, but meeting her changed my perception of drawing and I wanted to be just as skilled as her.

How (and why) did you choose to become an artist?

As I mentioned before, I had the opportunity to visit what was then the Walt Disney Animation Studio in Florida. I was around 14 and was still dabbling in drawing, but after seeing how the Disney animators worked, I was incredibly inspired. Later that same day, my whole family went to watch the Disney World nighttime show, Fantasmic!, which really showcases all classic Disney animated films and music. After watching the show and thinking back on my visit to the animation studio, I realized that I wanted to create animated films that an entire family could enjoy and would bring out the inner child in my audiences.

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What was your first “Big Break?”

Right at the end of middle school, I had the chance to participate in a student writing competition. At the time, I was really into writing poetry, so I compiled a book of my poems and illustrated each of them. I remember looking to several different inspirational artists and artistic time periods for each illustration, so no illustration or poem was like the other. My book went on to win first place in the poetry division for the competition! Writing that book taught me about how to start and finish a project, and how to incorporate storytelling into every image I create.

What decisions in your career do you consider the most beneficial?

Easy – Participating in the Disney College Program. It wasn’t an artistic endeavor by any means, as the Disney College Program is an internship in which you work in a Disney park (Disneyland or Disney World) in a variety of roles including merchandising, janitorial work, operating attractions, etc. I did my Disney College Program at the end of my freshman year at Brigham Young University, and I was an attractions operator in Disney World in Florida. While the job didn’t teach me about art necessarily, I learned SO much about interacting with people and how to be a good co-worker. Living in Disney World for 4 months also gave me the chance to study the Imagineering and design of parks, plus meet people from all across the world. That one job has led to so many other important aspects of my career and gave me vital skills that I still use today.

Did you receive any formal training (i.e., schooling) to become an artist?

Yes I did! I attended Brigham Young University and graduated with a degree in Animation. I learned everything from 3-D animation to figure drawing through that program. Before then, I took several art classes in high school and even community-offered classes.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Definitely Disney. It really shows in my work! I especially enjoy the work of Disney animator Glen Keane, most well-known for animating and designing Ariel, the Beast, and Rapunzel. He breathes such life into his drawings that a few simple lines can immediately communicate to you what kind of emotion he’s trying to evoke. I’m also inspired by a few Japanese animators, especially Hayao Miyazaki and his films. Mostly though, I get inspiration from stories. If anything – books, movies, plays, music, anecdotes from life – has a good story, I get bitten by the creative bug and have to draw something.

What is your favorite medium to work in, or with?

The good ol’ pencil and paper has always been reliable for me, and I also love working in ink and brush pens. Photoshop is my go-to for digital work.

Do you draw for a target audiendce, or simply create art that you like to view?

A bit of both. I definitely draw things that I enjoy or things that I’d like to see on a big screen one day. However, I want to keep all of my [work] family-friendly and ring true with family values. I’ve been getting a lot of kids telling me that they’ve been inspired by my work to try drawing for themselves, so I’d like to continue drawing for them, too!

How do you come up with your ideas?

Boy, that’s a broad question! An idea can come from anywhere. A passage I read in a book, a bit of music that I heard, a conversation I overheard at work…I once saw a woman sitting on the lawn with her back to an electrical box, so I went home and drew her because I wanted to know why she was there. I think that’s what it comes down to: I have a question, so I draw the answer. What would happen if two friends who hadn’t seen each other in 10 years suddenly come across each other? What would happen if a girl got a pet velociraptor? How would any of these scenes look? I also want to know what the emotions are of these scenes, and I’ve come to love drawing the emotion more than anything.

When you start working on a project, what do you do to “Get in the Mood?”?

I usually turn on some good music first. I try to find music that suits whatever it is I’m drawing. I’ll also try to do a warm-up sketch to loosen up my hands and creative thinking.

What is your favorite artistic style?

Anything that would be considered “animated” or “animation.” Animation runs in my blood, so I tend to always lean towards that style. Animation also lends itself to exaggeration and the fantastical, which I love drawing.

How do you deal with “Artist’s Block?”

I have to step away from whatever it is I’m working on. I usually grab a bite to eat (normally, my creative output is proportional to the amount of food I have consumed), watch something, or read a little bit of a book. If it’s a particularly big and ugly artist’s block, I have to leave the house. I’ll go grocery shopping, walk around the mall, or go to Disneyland (if the opportunity presents itself). I find that if I get my mind thinking about something else, I’ll have an easier time solving whatever creative problem I’m trying to tackle.

What is your favorite part of a project?

Depends on the project! With most illustrating projects, I love the initial sketching and idea-generating. Once I actually get into the illustration itself, I love the coloring. There’s something incredibly satisfying about blending and color-picking. I also love the presentation of the project, the moment when I get to show it to people and share my artistic journey with an audience.

How often do real life events impact, or influence, your work?

Sometimes, I just can’t avoid the impact of reality. Yes, there are bills to pay, bathrooms to clean, and groceries to buy. In terms of my daily routine, I try to work those into my schedule before I even begin drawing, otherwise they’ll never get done! But sometimes, life gets frustrating. At those times, I’ll sometimes set aside my current work and just draw out my feelings. I know I’ve had some days where I got upsetting enough news that I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a pencil. As a student, I would get angry with myself for not being able to draw ALL THE TIME, especially during those low moments. But sometimes, life happens. It’s important though, to be able to bounce back with energy and get back into drawing. I hope that answers your question!

If you could pick any one artist to work with, who would it be, and why?

Writer Jennifer Lee and writer/story artist Brenda Chapman are fantastic directors with a unique view of animation as women, and I’d love to work alongside such prominent and talented women in entertainment. Also, director/story artist/character designer Byron Howard is quite a fantastic, positive guy. I met him once and have listened to a conference from him, and he’s got a great grasp on character development, plus team work in animation.

When working with another artist, how do you divide the work load?

Honestly, I haven’t had too many opportunities to share work with another artist. However, any kind of work division should be based on the artist’s strengths. For example, if I’m great with colors but lousy at inking, it would be in my best interest to work with an artist who’s great at inking. That artist takes on inking, since that is their artistic strength, and I take on the coloring, which is my artistic strength. This is really generalized idea, but you get the picture.

When working with another artist, how do you settle “Artistic Differences?”

The same way you would settle any other difference with another person: work out a compromise. It’s no good when two creatives butt heads over why their idea is “the best.” When collaborating with other people – artists or otherwise – the goal is to complete an idea or a project, not to show off one person’s contribution. Work on combining ideas and thoughts, examine the strengths of ideas and which solution best solves the problem. I used to work for creative marketing with Disney Parks and Resorts, and we once had to come up with an idea for an ad campaign for the Disneyland 60th Anniversary. Rather than sitting around talking about why one person’s idea was the best, everyone came up with a different idea, then we examined the strengths and weaknesses of those ideas. From there, we picked the strengths and turned those into another set of ideas. And then we examined the strengths and weaknesses of those ideas. We did this for a while until we came up with the final campaign. In the end, it was hard to tell where one person’s idea ended and another’s began. We had all successfully combined our strongest creative ideas into one, cohesive idea that became the campaign.

What does a typical work day (or week) look like for you?

Right now, I’m a freelance artist, so most of my day is up to me! I still stick to a routine though. Wake up, check and answer emails, have a good breakfast and check my to-do list (which I usually make earlier in the week). I’ll start with the most pressing tasks and go from there. Right now, it’s finishing up my Kickstarter project, so I work on that for a couple of hours. After lunch, I’ll try to switch gears a little so I don’t fall into a creative funk, so I’ll practice piano or read a book for an hour. After that, I go back to working on my Kickstarter project, and maybe some full-time job applications (I usually set aside entire days just for that!). After dinner, it’s time to either read a book or play some video games before I go to bed.

For comic books and graphic novels, which is more important – story line, or the artistic depiction of story line?

The artistic depiction of the story line. You could have a really unique and driving story, but it won’t go anywhere if it isn’t visually clear to your readers. I’ve read a few comics and graphic novels where the story sounded interesting in theory, but the artistry did nothing to drive the story. Characters simply talked about the story, and [the] action had little meaning. When it comes to graphic novels and comics, I always look for something that shows me the story rather than tells me the story.

What, from an artistic perspective, do you consider to be the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel?

A comic book will present to you an idea and tell you about how cool the idea is. A graphic novel will present a cool idea and then show you how cool the idea is. The description is in the title, Graphic Novel. If I can understand characters’ emotion and recognize the rising action, climax and denouement from reading words on a page, I should be able to recognize the same from “reading” pictures.

What other artist, besides yourself, do you consider the most exciting right now, and why?

I’ve got a great and talented friend, Sae Cotton (lightlybow on tumblr) who has a webcomic going right now. It’s a well-drawn and fun story with great characters and occasional humor that borders the ridiculous. Her take on the webcomic venture is very fresh. I have another friend, Allen Ostergar, who’s currently an animator at Disney. He’s already completed two films there and I have no doubt that he’s going to be doing more fantastic animation projects in the future.

Which of your artwork is your favorite, and why?

I am definitely most proud of my Harry Potter cards. It’s been quite an effort that has spanned over two years, and I’ve pushed my character design abilities into a place that I like right now. A single piece I’m proud of, however, is a sketch-turned-painting of Sora and Aqua from Kingdom Hearts. I had a vision of how their reunion will be once the series has ended, and I was extremely happy with the emotion and gesture I was able to capture. A simple, emotional moment like that is what I like to try to draw, and I feel that I succeeded with that one.

Do you have any plans to either continue, or start, a series, and if so, how many pieces do you envision in it?

After drawing 52 Harry Potter cards for over two years, I think I’m ready to end the series. It’s been a fun project and I’ve learned so much from it. However, I have a few other art series that are in the works right now, so I plan on refocusing my efforts to those projects once the Harry Potter cards wrap.

I know that things are rather busy for you right now, but in your offtime what do you do to decompress?

I’m quite bookish, so I spend quite a lot of time reading. Books are where most of my inspiration comes from, anyways! I also love to play piano and sing. Music has always been my go-to for decompressing after a long day. And if I have enough time, I play some video games. Nothing destresses me more quickly than slaying thousands of monsters at a time!

Is there anything special, or specific, that we should be keeping an eye out for?

Keep a lookout for a personal story that I’m working on right now! This one has been sitting in my brain for several years, and I think that it’s time to finally do something about it. To give you a taste, it’s a whimsical story about individual worth that involves a little bit of flying.

If you could say any one thing to a budding artist, what would you say?

Don’t be afraid to try a variety of mediums and styles! I have witnessed one too many budding artists get stuck in one particular method (mostly anime faces with pencil on lined notebook paper), and they become too afraid to try anything different. The best and quickest way to grow is to try something new, to test your creativity. If you work in pencil a lot, try using a ballpoint pen or a brush pen. Maybe after that you’ll feel like you can tackle watercolors. If you draw really small, try filling up a whole sheet of paper. Or vice versa; if you draw really big pictures, try to fit a drawing in a 3x3 square. Art is about challenging yourself, and you can’t grow as an artist if you refuse to challenge yourself.

What personality trait is the most beneficial for an artist?

Learn how to take educational criticism. This was one I struggled with a lot during school. Teachers and peers will point out the flaws in your drawings, and it’s easy to get discouraged and forget that they point out the flaws so that you can avoid them next time. However, it is important to note that some people will give unnecessary criticism, so learn how to recognize educational criticism, and people who just like to be critics. Also, when receiving constructive criticism, it’s also okay to ask what is working about your drawings. There were several times in school where I would try so hard to follow my teachers’ and peers’ educational criticism that I often lost what was good about the drawing in the first place. It’s all about balance and learning how to become a good artist.

What do you consider your best work?

At this point, I think my best artistic work is my Harry Potter cards. Not just because it’s been a long project, but because I learned how to make a product that is cohesive and consistent. I’m excited to take all that I learned from the cards to my next project!

If you are interested in seeing more of Joy’s work, or would like to reach out to her to potentially commission some work, check out these locations –

Tumblr: imaginative-ink.tumblr.com

Web: www.etsy.com/shop/imaginativejoy

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