Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An Interview with Ana de los Angeles Morra

Your full name: Ana de los Angeles Morra
Your age: 24
Your location: Buenos Aires, Argentina


Can you describe what you do?
-I am a freelance illustrator, focusing mainly on projects and products for children, like illustrated books. I create art which either narrates on its own, or accompanies a previous text.

When did you first become interested in art? Was there anything specific that prompted this interest?
-I have been drawing and painting since I could hold a pencil in my little hand. I guess my first memory art-related comes from the time when I was three. Used to sit on a small wooden table and draw for hours on white papers my mum brought from work.
My parents were always encouraging about anything I enjoyed doing, so they were a very important support. Besides, art was always appreciated at home. My parents had studied drama when they were young, and my grandpa used to paint as a hobby.

Do you have formal training in art?
-I had no formal training in art when I was a child, except my own practice and a book I read on Human Anatomy. Then, at high school, we had some art classes, where I learned techniques like pastels and acrylics.
After that, I started studying Graphic Design at UBA (University of Buenos Aires), -will be graduating a year from now.
It was only by the end of 2007 when I discovered these Pencil classes by master Oscar Rojas (a highly recognized children illustrator in Argentina), and began studying with him, simultaneous to my studies at University.

What prompted your passion for children's illustration?
-Before taking Pencil classes, I wasn't sure I was on the right way.
I worked at a Design Studio, in the video and post production area, and had no idea I could actually work doing what I loved most. Rojas's classes are aimed to children illustration, and once I started, I just knew THAT was what I wanted to do from that moment on. I guess it's the magic of it all; it's like an excuse for being a child again!

Why do you think it is important to illustrate for this age group?
-I think almost every aspect of who we are as adults, begin to develop when we are children. Education is crucial, but not only the academic part of it. Children are imaginative by nature, and we should encourage that, teach them to grow in creativeness and curiosity. Images, as well as written material, open up a huge world of ideas and imagination for children, especially when they are too little to read.
I believe that a child who gets a good image education will definitely be a more curious and open-minded adult. And that's great.
What inspires you to create?
-Inspiration comes in many ways, but it's hard to specify each one of them!
I guess the main influence comes from what I saw as a child. All those cartoons and picture books I used to read got stuck in my mind, and they created this image back up, from which I take infinite references.
Something that inspires me is reading. I love reading& narrative, poetry, science fiction, legends, art books; it gives me such a big field for imagination.
And not only as an inspiration tool, but as a professional resource, I always check out the work of my colleagues from around the world, from the past and the present.

What kind of techniques do you use to make your stories come alive through pictures?
-I like to use a different technique depending on what the story tells me. I believe that each one has its own feel and climate, so it's good when you can take advantage of that and use it to narrate.
I mainly use Acrylics, Gouache, Ink, Pencils (graphite and color). I love Oil painting but haven't used it in illustration yet.

What message do you hope your art will convey?
-I guess it will depend on the piece, but I know I want my art as a whole to be an instrument for love (ha-ha as silly as it may sound!). I'd like to bring back the values of friendship, help and healthy fun, which are getting so lost in this quick and violent world of us; the idea of taking the proper time to do things and not rushing them.

How does art affect your work life? Your personal life?
-Art is a part of my daily life. I read it, I see it, I almost breathe it. When your job is in the creative field, art is just an inherent aspect of your every day. You no longer see a painting without analyzing its composition, for example. You no longer read a book without imaging an illustration for it; you no longer see a poster without checking the type used. It's like perceiving everything under a new filter.
As I said before, my family is quite close to art, so I have always found support and even learned from them. I keep having art-related conversations with my dad, and my boyfriend is a graphic designer and illustrates too, so I'd say art and creative activities are a really big aspect of my personal life. 

Can you describe your experience being an assistant in Oscar Rojas's pencil classes?
-It's an honor for me to be an assistant in his classes, because he is one of the greatest children illustrators, so you learn from him every single second.
I find it a very fulfilling activity too: you get to transmit your knowledge to other people, but at the same time you learn from them. Since we all feel and see and think different, every question makes you change your point of view and understand things from another angle.
I guess teaching always puts you in crisis, because knowledge is never a definite, unchangeable thing.

What are your ultimate goals in the illustration field?
I am enjoying the moment, I am just starting on this and every new project feels great! But one thing I would love to do is publish my own integral books; being able to write, illustrate and design my own ideas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Doth the Croc

Text by Lewis Carroll - it is "How Doth the Little Crocodile", and if you are not familiar with it, you should be! [link]

We had a project in illustration class where we had to chose a page from a children's book an illustrate the text on that page. I instantly knew that I wanted to do a poem by Lewis Carroll, because they are so much fun! (And also public domain, which is always a plus.)

The lines were painted with India Ink, then scanned and colored in photoshop.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

An Interview with Jessica Nguyen

Please visit Jessica's page, as well as her joint art blog!

Your full name: Jessica Nguyen
Your age: 21
Your location: Orange County, CA

Can you describe your art?
-My art is fun and colorful. Life, at the moment, is so complicated and busy so I also enjoy being simple with my characters. I’d like to think my creations are sincere and not overwhelming. My artwork and doing art makes me happy and I hope that through my artwork others can feel even a moment of happiness as well

When did you first become interested in art? Was there anything specific that prompted this interest?

-I first became interested in art for as long as I can remember, which is such a cliche answer. Regardless, it’s true. I still have my composition books from 1st-3rd grade. They’re so much fun to look at. Sometimes I wish I still drew like that haha.

I think what influenced me at the time were Disney movies and my dad. My favorite characters were Ariel and Jasmine so I would always draw them. My dad and I used to bond through art. Whenever he had the chance, he would try to teach me about drawing landscapes with different perspectives. He also bought me How-to books. My favorites were flowers and birds.

Do you have formal training in art?

-No. However, when I need to register for my classes, I always look at what art courses are being offered. I’m tempted, but more terrified about being graded on my art work. It’s just too much pressure and stress. I would most likely be more stressed out taking a Beginner Drawing class than one of my upper division Biology classes. That’s pretty much how terrified I am.

What is the inspiration behind your wacky creatures?

-Oh I don’t know if they’re wacky haha. Many of my drawings are spur of the moment characters. Other times I will have a specific idea of what character I want to make. The idea could have been something I saw during the day while I was walking around campus, doing my volunteer work, stepping out to my backyard, surfing the Internet, hearing a certain lyric etc. Moreover, the idea could have been something my friends suggest. It could be their current obsession or favorite animal.

You seem to take great care in choosing the colors in each of your pieces. Can you describe the importance of color in your work?

-I adore colors. I think it’s so interesting how colors work together especially if you don’t imagine using certain colors together. Sometimes its the colors that decide what I’m going to be drawing.

Your gallery is full of expressive characters. Are these drawing autobiographical in any way?

-Partly yes. In the past, I used to draw how I felt (y’know how angsty teenagers can be). I still sometimes do. For instance, one of my recent drawings titled “Ouchies” was definitely autobiographical. I was experiencing really bad physical pain in my legs and feet—both of known and unknown causes. I didn’t know how to deal with it especially the pain that I couldn’t figure out why I was hurting. So frustrated, I transferred all those feelings and placed it into a drawing. It felt better to get that frustration out in a positive way.

What message do you hope your art will convey?

- As I said earlier, I hope my art could convey happiness. It’s fulfilling to know that my art can brighten up someone’s day. For me, my art reminds me to always enjoy the little, simple things in life. You don’t always have to be bogged down in stress or pressure even if you’re a pre-med student haha.

How does art affect your work life? Your personal life?

-I use art as a creative output and a stress reliever. Sometimes all I want to do is draw. My friends, who know that I draw, always ask why I am not an Art major. Art is such an important aspect of my life, but I can’t see myself making a career out of it. And so, art is just a hobby to me. I’m currently finishing up my last year as a Biological Sciences major with a minor in Medical Anthropology. I try my best to juggle school, research, volunteer work, watching the many shows that I watch every week, and drawing (I guess socializing too). Drawing is usually the last thing I do at the end of the day (about 90% of the artwork I submit to DeviantArt was done between the times of 12-4am).

Art helps me balance out my life. When I draw, I don’t need to be thinking about all the things I have to get done every single moment. Art also helps me in my volunteer work. One of the places I volunteer at I am the head of the arts and crafts team. So I get to come up with and lead craft projects for the kids. The other place I volunteer at is in the Pediatrics department of a hospital. When I am not playing board games with the patients, I’ll try my best to incorpate art there too. I will redecorate the play room with drawings ( like a underwater sea theme) or I will try to get the little ones into coloring or doing small craft projects (making bracelets, decorating foam visors, etc).

You have mentioned creating banners for your friends music site, and creating designs for downloadable wallpaper. Do you have any long-term goals involving art and design?

-A lot of my dA watchers tell me I should create stationary, T-shirts, or totes with my art work. However, I don’t really have time right now or the resources to get such things done. Also, it’ll only be motivating enough if a lot of people were interested.

The reason I created the banner for my friend was because he asked me if I could. As for the downloadable wallpapers, I would just make them, again, if people were interested in using them. My recent pieces were all wallpaper sized because I personally needed to change up my laptop wallpaper (Lee Pace was my wallpaper for about six months or longer haha).

I am always going to be drawing but some day though in the future (after medical school and all that) I would love to learn more about illustration and create my very own children’s book.