CM: What is your background/education in art?
TK: I got started in art at a very young age. It was one of few things that I was really passionate about, and something I knew I wanted to pursue as a career for as long as I can remember. Whenever adults would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d always say “a children’s book illustrator!” or “an artist!”. As far as education goes, my experience is pretty limited! As a kid I took a few painting classes, and last year attended a couple online lectures, but I never did go to art college. I work best at my own pace, and felt like art college just wouldn’t work well for me.
CM: Did you work other jobs before freelancing? What are some of the benefits and challenges of freelancing?
TK: Freelancing and running my Etsy shop are my first and only jobs, actually! I’m only just starting out in my career, so that may change, but as of right now it’s the only thing I’ve ever known. It definitely comes with many benefits and challenges, yes – being able to work from home and in my own time is something I really enjoy, but it also means keeping myself in line and making sure I don’t procrastinate and miss deadlines, or overwork myself and stress out.
CM: How did you develop your personal style?
TK: It was a long, loooong, never-ending process, and still is! I tried so many different styles and techniques before I even knew what I wanted my work to look like and represent. Once I finally decided that, it became easier to make stylistic decisions and develop it into what I wanted. I feel like developing my style was like building Frakenstein’s monster, in a way – I’d watch animated movie or look at illustrations and pick out certain things I liked about the faces or proportions, and try to make it my own and incorporate it into my art.
CM: What are some of your favorite things to draw?
TK: I just really love everyday people, like maybe a lady walking her dog or someone caught in the rain. I find simple things like that really charming and enjoyable to draw. Some of my favorite projects I’ve worked on are probably fanart pieces, or any time I get to draw plants and trees!
CM: What materials/programs do you use most often?
TK: Definitely Photoshop and my Wacom tablet. I use them almost every day, and they’re often my favorite materials to work with.
CM: What artists have had an influence on your work?
TK: Far too many to recollect! I’m really inspired by Laika films (The Boxtrolls is a favorite of mine), Renaissance paintings, and illustrators like Mary Blair and Claire Keane.
CM: Many of your pieces feature characters or elements from books. Do you often find inspiration in mediums other than art, and do you have any favorites (books or movies) that have influenced or encouraged your art?
TK: Yes, absolutely! I’m often inspired by books and films, as well as music, nature, and just people in general. There’s something about watching/reading my favorite film or book that just fuels my creative fire! Familiar stories like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland are my favorite.
CM: Do you ever experience art block? If so, how do you deal with it?
TK: I’m sure every artist does at some point, and I’m definitely no exception! Whether it lasts a day or a week, I find the best way to get over it is to just draw my way through it. I try to work on small, un-intimidating pieces like flowers or small portraits.
CM: What is a style/medium/new art challenge you would like to try in the future?
TK: Some day I’d love to work with gouache or watercolor! I don’t work in traditional media very much, so I’d really like to conquer my fear of the paintbrush in the future.
CM: What are some of the most important lessons about art you’ve learned through your own experiences?
TK: Artists are often faced with a lot of decision-making, so I learned a lot about being independent and making my own artistic choices. I would often catch myself thinking things like “I’ve never seen that done before, I can’t do that” or drawing something a certain way just because it’s how someone else did it. I learned how to draw that way I would, not the way someone else would.
CM: What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
TK: Start where you are, learn all you can, and be determined! If you’re just starting out, don’t stress about developing a style – start with learning the basics, with anatomy, form, and color. Challenge yourself and set artistic goal! Be persistent, and don’t get discouraged!
Taryn is an American artist currently living in Colorado and working as a freelance illustrator. Outside of art, her hobbies include reading, blogging, and obsessing over her fandoms.