Friday, October 17, 2014

Con Report: Interviews in Artist's Alley (Part 2)

Continuing from Wednesday, here are some more interviews with the artists displaying their stuff at Geek Girl Con 2014. The third part should be up soon - there were a lot of super talented artists there! I think for me the most heartening part of this was seeing all of these people making art that really mattered to them, that was kind of off the beaten path, but that made them happy. I can get behind that.

Fuerst got started with drawing fanart for Sailor Moon and Final Fantasy IX when she was a kid - seeing the gorgeous art used in the game made her realize that “this is someone’s job!” Not only could she do art for a living, she could make art for videogames for a living. Which is, it turns out, exactly what she does. She’s most proud of the game Skyborn, which you can buy on STEAM, but she’s also worked on Marvel Superhero Squad Online, and a whole host of games that never saw the light of day. Right now she’s working on a top secret project with Amazon gaming, and she’s pretty excited about what’s coming next.

I asked if there was anything she wanted to tell people, and she laughed, saying, “Tell them to buy my game [Skyborn] on STEAM!” But getting serious she added, “More women should get into the gaming industry. We need more voices.”

Bernard also found art inspiration in videogames, but she prefers the classic Legend of Zelda games, especially Ocarina of Time. She started out doing fanart, but has since transitioned into working on webcomics, and is currently running two simultaneously (which is impressive): Willem and Split Screen. What she wants you to know? “Read my webcomics!”

[Artist's Alley, copyright Laura F.]

Popplewell was originally classically trained for painting and printmaking, and now she really really wants to do full time nerd art. She draws inspiration from everything she watches, but she’s recently realized that she wants to go back and rewatch some old favorites so that she can use them for inspiration. Like, say, Princess Bride. She’d also like to do some more Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy, but get past the standard poses and shots that everyone uses to really explore the characters.

When I asked what she’s planning for the future, she sort of laughed and said, “Going to New Zealand?” It’s the ultimate nerd dream after all. On the art side of things, she’s working on designing the art for a tarot set, working on an art book based on classic Norwegian fairy tales, and she would love to get into sci-fi novel covers and kids books. 

Her advice? “It’s important to be yourself. No matter how bad things get, it will get better. Whatever you love, it’s okay to geek out.”

“I draw it because I want it. I want to have it, so I make it.” In other words, Lapisi’s reasons for doing fanart are pretty simple: she wants stuff that no one else is making, so she figures she’d better make it herself! Right now she’s doing fanart, and also working on a webcomic, but there are understandable time limitations involved. It’s hard to write and draw a webcomic while working full time. Her big thing is that she loves drawing things because no one else is, drawing the art that no one else has thought of yet. She’d love to do webcomics full time, because as she puts it, “If you’re not making things for people, what’s the point?”

[Artist's Alley, copyright Laura F.]
Rebecca Flaum - Studio Catawampus

Obviously the first question I asked was where the name of her company came from. I mean, catawampus? What’s that from? Well, apparently it’s named after her super awkward cat. Which is great.

She started out doing a portrait project for school, making a portrait every week, but halfway through the year she ran out of family members and friends, and started doing portraits of fictional characters. Since she was posting them online to track her progress, fans kept finding her art and absolutely loved it. Plus, they were a lot of fun to do. She still sells prints of those portraits in her online shop, along with a series of fantasy inspired prints, and a series she calls “Incongruities”. Just generally she says she likes to make “anything that makes me smile.”

Right now, though, her big goal for the future is to have a goal for the future. She’d like to find a way to do art full time, preferably digital art, but she’s not sure what her path will be. Regardless, her big message to the world is, “Buy my art! And please smile.”

Katie Clark - Katie Clark Art!

I’ll be honest, the first thing I saw in Clark’s booth was a gorgeous paint portrait of Futurama’s Hypnotoad, and I came very close to buying it. Clark’s art is a mishmash of classical painting techniques, gorgeous frames, and portraits of unconventional videogame and television characters. Like, say, Hypnotoad. Or Yoshi. 

As a kid, Clark wanted to work for Nintendo, and as an adult, she did. But she quickly found that she actually hates desk work, and decided to leave the field after a couple of years in favor of working at home in her pajamas. As she said, “I tried on the American Dream, and it didn’t fit. I decided I’d rather play.” Now she does the art for herself, and she’s found a fair amount of success with that. In November her art will be on display in Victor’s Coffee in Redmond, WA. 

“Do what makes you happy. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

[The gaming floor, copyright Laura F.]

“Why do I art? Because I can’t help it!” Bonikowski, who specializes in complex pixel art that looks deceptively simple, started out by painting Day of the Dead skulls. She loved how she could use the same basic patterns but customize them to be personally meaningful, and from there she expanded into customizing her own fanart. She specializes in videogame art, particularly pixel art, “because it looks easy, but actually it’s really hard.” 

In her everyday life, Bonikowski counters the structure of pixel art by being a massage therapist, and she made it clear that while she loves art, she also loves doing things with her life that aren’t art. She’s not sure she would want to go full time, since massage therapy is also a big passion of hers. But she likes think this makes her a well-rounded person, and I agree.

When I asked what she wanted to tell people, she laughed and said that Katie Clark (whose booth was right next door) had stolen her answer, but then she elaborated. “Follow your heart. If you’re doing something just for a paycheck, find your way out of it and do what you love.” Then she started laughing and added, “But don’t make pixel art. It’s a terrible decision in life.”