Interview with Artist Miranda Yeo

Mermaid by Miranda Yeo
Mermaid by Miranda Yeo

CM: What got you interested in art at a young age?

MY: I’d have to go with Disney movies being one of the most important things that got me interested in art. I would spend hours watching The Lion King, Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and trying to draw the characters.

CM: When did you decide to become a professional artist?

MY: I had no idea what I was going to do after high school. It really came down to the wire and I looked up art schools and found Sheridan. I figured I could draw decently, maybe I should try it. I applied to the Animation program at Sheridan College but had no idea what I was doing, or even what a portfolio really entailed so I didn’t get accepted – but they recommended the Art Fundamentals program and I ended up taking that instead.

CM: What did you study in college?

MY: I took two years of Art Fundamentals courses and then I applied to the Animation program. In Fundamentals we studied life drawing, painting, 2D design, textiles and sculpture. In Animation we studied character design, storyboarding, layout, 3D animation, life drawing and traditional animation.

CM: What are the benefits to going to art school?

MY: One of the biggest benefits is being in a creative environment with a bunch of peers. Seeing what everyone else is doing is incredibly motivating and class critiques can really help you improve. It’s great to be able to connect with your peers and teachers and create networks that will last after you graduate!

CM: What is your favorite medium and/or tools to use?

MY: That’s a hard one – I love both digital and traditional media. Inking is one of my favourite things to do traditionally, but I also love being able to quickly sketch and colour digitally.

Dancer by Miranda Yeo
Dancer by Miranda Yeo

CM: How is it different to draw traditionally vs. drawing digitally?

MY: It’s actually surprisingly different! I sometimes have a hard time switching to drawing traditionally after weeks of only doing digital work. I tend to feel much more relaxed when I’m drawing in Photoshop because I know I can just Undo any mistakes or tweak any small problems. When working traditionally you have to have an idea of what you’re trying to create – especially when using a permanent medium like ink. There’s no going back!

CM: Which method do you prefer?

MY: Generally most of my work is digital. Sometimes it’s just much easier!

CM: What are your favorite kinds of things to draw?

MY: I love drawing ladies, hair and outfits! Cute stuff is what I gravitate most towards.

CM: Where do you find most of your inspiration?

MY: In everything! Movies, music, books, other artists, the tree outside my window. It’s incredibly cheesy but there is inspiration in everything.

CM: What is the most fun thing about character designing?

MY: I love creating and designing the look of characters and their clothing. I could spend hours researching and gathering references for what a character will look like!

CM: What is the most difficult thing?

MY: The most difficult thing is getting everything working together – do those pants allow the character’s legs to move properly? Does the hair suit the character’s personality? Every aspect has to drive home the character’s personality. You should be able to look at the design and have an idea of what the character is all about.

Character Design by Miranda Yeo
Character Design by Miranda Yeo

CM: What are you favorite kinds of characters to draw?

MY: Kids are incredibly fun to draw! Characters with lots of personality.

CM: What kind of references do you use when you draw?

MY: I usually have some images of clothing, props or people up when I’m drawing characters. If I have to draw something like hands I might take pictures of my own. If I’m drawing an action pose I will get up and do it.

CM: Who are some of the artists you admire most?

MY: There are so many! Glen Keane, Earl Oliver Hurst, Mary Blair, Brittney Lee, and Lorelay Bove are some of them!

CM: What has your experience freelancing for Nickelodeon, Disney Junior, and DHX Media been like?

MY: It’s been great! It’s been such a pleasure working with these studios on projects that I never thought I’d contribute to. I’ve been mainly focusing on freelancing for the past few months. It’s really nice to be able to wake up and work in your own home. It’s interesting to see different studios’ workflows and communicating back and forth with directors via text can be a great form of feedback.

CM: What have your favorite projects been?

MY: One of the most recent projects I set out for myself was to work on drawing all the main characters from the Lord of the Rings series. It was incredibly fun to finally draw the characters I’ve loved for so long! It was a very rewarding project to get into in-between work. I’ve always been a huge Lord of the Rings fan so it was exciting to work with the characters. I also really love taking part in the annual Inktober event on Instagram. It’s so inspiring to see everyone’s work throughout the month! And it’s a great excuse to work traditionally.

CM: What are some of the joys and/or challenges of this work?

MY: The biggest joy is creating art that people respond to. It’s always a great feeling to see people liking your work. I find the biggest challenge is staying motivated and pushing yourself to the next level. It can be easy to get comfortable with your work and not feel a need to keep improving yourself.

CM: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

MY: Always keep drawing. Do not get too hung up on developing a ‘style’ or doing something a particular way. Find what you’re comfortable with and do it as much as you can.

Miranda Yeo is a recent graduate of Sheridan’s B.A Animation program. She is a character designer currently residing in beautiful British Columbia.


Read about Miranda’s Lord of the Rings series here.


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