CM: What is one of your earliest experiences with art that you remember?
AL: I’ve pretty much drawn ever since I could hold a crayon! I remember getting through a staggering amount of paper as a kid. I loved bright colours and producing rather hilarious looking renditions of butterflies and flowers as a 3-4 year old.
CM: When did you first start taking real art classes?
AL: It was always part of the school curriculum, but when I got to about 12-13 I was so convinced I wanted to work for Disney/Pixar that I decided it wasn’t going to be enough, so at 14 I started painting and life drawing classes outside school. They were run by this super eccentric lady at her home studio in one of the posh areas of London. She was such an odd character but she taught me a great deal so I’m very grateful for that.
As I got older and took my A-Levels, I also got to do life drawing at school after my usual class hours. That’s about it, really. I’ve never taken a digital art class or learned how to draw cartoons formally.
CM: Where do you attend school and what are you studying?
AL: I’m just finishing my 1st year of my undergraduate degree at university! I’m studying somewhere in rural north England but I’m doing an Economics degree, so nothing art related. I am a member of the Art Society so I try to attend the weekly life drawing sessions as much as I can to keep the practice up, but it’s hard when my schedule’s so jam-packed!
CM: What is your favourite medium to use?
AL: I don’t have one; I think it’s nice to switch it up to stop myself getting bored! Personally I prefer digital for bigger polished drawings and traditional materials like pencils for sketches.
CM: How does drawing digitally compare to drawing traditionally to you?
AL: Digital is fun for working with colour and big compositions because it’s easy to cut/paste/edit things, but sometimes it can get stressful or eye-straining. I prefer doodling traditionally when working on rough character designs or just doing something to relax myself. I don’t post a lot of my traditional stuff online because they’re just messy doodles, ha ha ha…
CM: What are some of your favourite things to draw?
AL: Faces and eyes! Hair too, though it can be a real pain to colour. The fun bit is adding the finishing touches at the end of a drawing.
CM: What are some of your favourite fandoms to draw?
AL: Fandoms tend to come and go, but Disney is by far the one I draw most of. It’s always been in my life and it’s something that really sparked my love for art and animation. I can’t really think of any other fandom I’ve drawn nearly as consistently – there will always be Disney in my art tag, regardless of whatever I happen to be currently into at the moment.
I feel like I should mention though – artists can be strange. Just because we love something to bits doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll draw it a lot, and just because we draw something loads doesn’t mean we’re die-hard fans, you know? There are plenty of things I love to death but never draw.
CM: Why do you enjoy drawing fanart?
AL: To connect with other fans and share my own take on existing characters. I absolutely love seeing an artist’s take on a character’s design, particularly if said artist has a very unique and quirky style. I have a style inspiration tag on my blog specifically for that. I can only hope that I’d maybe be that person for somebody else.
That, and it’s nice to feel part of a community and contribute to it. And I’m just very bad at coming up with my own original character designs, ha ha… *hides away*
CM: How has drawing fanart helped your original art?
Al: Well any drawing is good practice for me, and it’s nice to find inspiration from other characters’ designs, see what works well and what doesn’t, etc. I don’t make enough original work to be honest, that’s something I want to work on in future.
CM: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
AL: Everything! I find anatomy hard. I still struggle a great deal with same-face syndrome, dynamics, and portraying interaction. Backgrounds, colours (I have a terrible eye for colour, honestly)… the list goes on. It’s daunting but exciting at the same time – I have so much more to learn! I really want to work more on environments and pushing character designs because I still feel I’m quite limited and I worry my work is still too similar to a lot of other people’s. I can be quite self-critical, but I feel it’s a good thing because it makes me want to keep improving. I also want to get better at traditional media and other forms of art aside from the stuff on my blog. I wish I were better at graphic design/realism/conceptual painting. I have a friend on my corridor who’s ridiculously good at drawing maps, and he’s inspired me to try and do it too.
In terms of day-to-day stuff, I guess just finding the motivation and time can be difficult. This year has been really rough. My schedule’s been a bit crazy and I’ve had to adjust to living away from home whilst juggling class in a super competitive environment as well as make a whole new bunch of friends, but it’s alright. I’m sad I haven’t had as much time to draw as I used to, but that’s life. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to plan my time better, but you never know with student life.
It also annoys me that inspiration comes like waves – one week you’ll churn out a million sketches and then produce nothing for the next three. It’s frustrating, but then I think that’s the case for 99.9% of artists.
CM: The Internet’s changed the art community in a lot of ways. How has the ability to share your work widely affected your art and you as an artist?
AL: Oh my gosh, so many ways! I feel like the Internet is one of the main reasons why I’m the way I am today art-wise. It’s allowed me to get critique, feedback and encouragement from so many random people and thrown me into the anime trash bin, amongst other things. Had I not been able to get into new fandoms, I would definitely not have become the artist I am today! It’s also meant that I can get paid for my work and join awesome projects/collaborations, which is fantastic and something I’m ridiculously thankful for.
CM: What is something you’ve learned from another artist that helped you a lot?
AL: Wow… what a question. I think the most important thing is to be nice. I know that sounds arbitrary and not very art related, but it’s so important! To build contacts and get involved in collaborative projects, nobody likes someone who is self-centred and all-righteous. Being encouraging to other fellow learning artists, I’m so glad that amongst my art friends we’re all really kind to each other rather than constantly trying to tear each other down or be competitive 24/7. I really am very lucky to know them and for us to have watched each other grow over the last few years.
Also, diversity and representation matters so much. When I first saw a fanart of Harry Potter with olive skin, I feel head over heels in love with it and realised why the common mindset of defaulting everyone to straight/white, etc., is so terrible and just ugh, which I have definitely been guilty of despite being a PoC (Person of Colour) myself. Now I love being more diverse with my character designs and headcanons, and it’s made me a much better person overall, I think.
Also… once you become anime trash you never go back. Unfortunately. Thanks Angela.
CM: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
AL: Be open minded, be kind, do things at your own pace, practice, and be patient. That’s all you need in a nutshell. I could go on forever, but everyone is different and as long as art is making you happy, that’s great. Success and improvement doesn’t come overnight, but it will if you throw yourself out there and get involved.
Andy is a student who likes to draw in her spare time. She’s a notorious fandom hopper and loves anything and everything to do with animation.