Best posts made by KathrynAdebayo
SVS Artist Interview with Braden Hallett - Art of B
Hello all! Lately I've found myself interested in learning more from the artists on this forum. We are all at different stages of our journeys as visual storytellers, but I imagine that we have much to give and take from each other.
The idea came to mind to interview some of the forum members. Here is the first interview with "Art of B", Braden Hallett, who has recently allowed us to follow his work-in-progress on a number of pieces, including some winner monthly contest entries.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
-I’m Canadian living near the middle of BC. So kind of on the outskirts of the middle of nowhere. I was a substitute teacher for a couple of years but quit to pursue the small chance that I could be an illustrator.
What put you on a path to becoming an artist? What are your goals as a visual storyteller, and how far along are you in that journey?
-I quit teaching and when I turned down a couple of teaching jobs nearer home, someone asked me “so what DO you want to do?” My quick answer was “draw stuff”. So I buckled down and gave myself a couple of years to figure it out.
As for how far along I am I have NO clue. I’m not sure anyone pre-professional does. I tend to fluctuate between “&^%$-yeah, I have MADE it!” and “my art is bad, and I should feel bad”. My goal at this particular moment is to get my portfolio up and running then start firing off post cards.
Could you share with us your two favorite art pieces that you've created so far? Also, is there a piece that was especially challenging that you could share, along with what you learned from working on it?
-Here are two recent favourites:
I can’t think of any recent pics that have been particularly challenging, though. I have enough of a process so that once inks are set I can kind of put my head down and paint by numbers. Though, honestly enough, anything to do with colour I find challenging. Which is why I'm trying to colour each and every piece of art that I come up with. Learning to paint with value first has certainly helped a lot.
It's been great to see your submissions to the monthly contest here on the SVS Learn forum. The way that you share your process and utilize critique is great to learn from. When you're creating a piece, what do you think is the balance between following your own artistic eye and changing something based on a suggestion from someone else?
-I try every suggestion I get, especially if I don’t like the suggestion. Once I’ve actually implemented the changes I may or may not keep them, but I always try every suggestion out. So I suppose the balance is to make sure you actually give your ‘artistic eye’ a chance to see the suggestion before keeping or discarding it.
Is there anything that you need as an illustrator that the community here on the forum can help you with?
-The community helps out a lot. I get critiques, suggestions, and get to see a whole lot of cool art. However, what I think that I NEED right now is another few thousand hours of illustration under my belt.
Thanks so much, Braden, for taking the time to answer these questions!
SVS Artist Interview with Viktor Nassli - Nasvikdraws
Hello, everyone! Here is the second of what will hopefully be a series of interviews with artists on this forum. There is so much to learn and share within this community, and it seems that going deeper into people's stories draws out a lot of insights.
Today's words of inspiration and wisdom come from forum member @Nasvikdraws, who caught the attention of many with his humorous and relatable Inktober series, "The Adventures of Dad-dad".
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Viktor Nassli, originally from Hungary, working as an architect in New York. I am married, in my thirties and my son just turned two. He is the most amazing thing that happened to me ( ...but next year is last season of Game of Thrones so this is subject to change….:)
In a few words, what would you say led you into art?
I was alway eager to create. I remember as a kid I was drawing all the time, making clay figurines, building lego skyscrapers, planning out hand-made Christmas gifts in August, reading DIY books for kids, I even embroidered. I was a single child so I learnt to occupy myself. Always something.
Then I went to architecture school because in Hungary the choices were very limited. (I almost became a lawyer…whew) After graduation I had brief experience in many different fields. I did graphic design as a freelancer, I worked at an advertising agency, an editing studio, an animation studio, a game developer and of course at architect offices. A little bit of each. These different experiences helped a lot in finding my way.
Could you share three pieces that you feel are your best to this point? Or that you learned something new from while creating?
I really like working on Adventures of Dad-Dad and as that is my most recent work I may be biased.
Therefore, I would like to present the following 3. Not sure if these are the best but I feel that these were all challenging in different ways. Also they show an array.
’QubeSix’: I attended a short concept art course at School of Visual Art in New York and did this dystopian piece as my personal project. I spent a lot of hours on it and I developed a full story which I will share later. I haven’t yet published this anywhere but here. Looking at it with a fresh eye I could have composed it better but this piece means a lot to me.
‘#nofilter’: This one was done for a competition and it was exhibited at the ARC Billboard Exhibition 2018 in Hungary. I wanted to depict the falsity of social media. It was so much fun to study the technique of line engraving and reproduce it digitally.
‘Bullied’: I really like working in black and white. My recent pieces have a similar style as this piece.
- ‘Flash Intro’ : https://vimeo.com/284847465 This is a bonus one as this is an animation, made for a TV program at a Hungarian music channel. This one is fairly old but I still remember this as a great experience. Except for the music I did the entire thing by myself from concept to final.
What are your goals as a "visual storyteller", and what point would you say you're at in that journey?
My main goal is to create art for a living. Most likely for children as they are the most important audience and they are exposed to so much low-quality content with no curation. Therefore, I would like to create children’s books but first I need to do a lot of color pieces as I am not confident with colors yet. On the long run, with my art, storytelling and accompanying activities I would like to help children to be raised more mindfully and more aware.
As a short term goal I am continuing the Dad-dad strips. I still have a lot to tell. I also have an animation short to finish that I am pushing for a few years now. I would like to have more experience in traditional and digital sculpting. I have so many goals that I will not be bored in the next 200 years.
I started thinking consciously about my art only a few years ago. I have a long journey ahead. My artworks may look developed to some but I think I try to disguise my inexperience with lot of thinking and OCD. If I don’t like something I polish it until I am confident to share. I know it is against the ‘finish not perfect rule’. Therefore, one of my goals is to do art more intuitively and less methodically.
Your comics, based off of this year's Inktober prompts, called "The Adventures of Dad-dad" had me laughing all October long. What has been your inspiration for the characters and their personalities? Do you have plans for publishing the comic?
Thank you. I am happy that you liked my comics. The positive feedback I got from the community helped a lot to carry on.
The biggest inspirations for the characters were my relationship with my son and my role as a father. As a parent you are often trying to be perfect in your role. I just want to show that you don’t have to do that. Be honest instead.
I was inspired by Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean too. He is infantile, playful, observant, egoistic and a little mean. Like a child. He is a misfit in the adult society but as he doesn’t care, he is free. I would like the Dad-dad strips to have the same ideology. Also, I read a lot of Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes when I was a kid and their way of storytelling had a big influence on me. I learnt a lot about comics from Scott MCloud’s books. They are awesome. Furthermore, I am a movie-buff so I think a lot of the movies I watched seep through too.
As for the style, Genndy Tartakovsky’s expressive and graphic style has always been very inspiring to me. I wanted to create a carefully laid out, simplified style enriched with nuance details. So many webstrips have rough, dumbed-down visuals that just don’t add anything to the written story/dialogue. I want the visuals and the written text to organically tell the stories hand in hand. I guess the SVS influence surfaced too. Hahaha.
I would like to self-publish the Inktober strips to have a finished product. I am also planning to continue creating more strips and would like to reach out to publishing companies about a year from now when I have enough material for a real book.
There are many parents on this forum trying to juggle illustration and caring for young children. What has been your biggest learning concerning this subject? What workflow do you use to accomplish your art in addition to other responsibilities?
Before my son was born I wasn’t that conscious about my art time. I wasted so many hours of my life with Netflix marathons and reading about stupid politics. After he was born we had to get used to a new schedule with much less “me-time” and I realized that in order to develop my art I needed to dedicate almost all of my personal time to art. I am much more focused now but it is challenging. You can’t take time away from your day job and you don’t want to cut down family time so you cut back sleep. Eg. I have been doing the Dad-dad comics from 10pm to 3am usually then off to work in the morning. That is why I couldn’t keep up with daily posting. I also draw on the subway and in lunchtime. Anytime when I have 5 minutes.
Also an extra challenge for me is that we are living in a super small apartment so I don’t have a personal workspace. I often have to draw on the cooktop, or the bathroom floor or under our desk covered with a blanket so I don’t disturb the rest of my family. I guess the harder the time the better the memory
Is there anything you need that the SVS Learn community could provide?
SVS Learn community is the best. It is vibrant, resourceful, supportive. I try to be as active as I can to participate (I need to share more WIP work for instance). As I didn’t go to art school I don’t have a network of art friends. Here at SVS I am developing relationship with artists at different levels while learning a lot from others. I am not a misfit anymore :).
I subscribed to SVS Learn too and I need to continue the education after I am done with Inktober (god! it’s mid November…..Lol) I am looking forward to @will-terry ‘s Composition Class 2.0.
Thank you Kathryn for the opportunity.
Thank you, Viktor, for taking the time for this!
Check out more of Viktor's art at the links below. If you haven't already, definitely give those Dad-dad comics some attention. And Viktor, let us know when we can buy the collection.
Adventures of Dad-dad:
SVS Artist Interview with Eric Castleman
A while back, it seemed like an interesting idea to conduct some interviews with SVS artists on this forum to learn from, and be inspired by, the stories and valuable insights we all have to share. So far, I've gleaned a ton from the process. Today's interview is with someone who has tremendous drive in pursuing his illustration and children's literature career, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see his future books make it big. Today's spotlight shines on Eric Castleman as we hear about his take on art, life, and even a forthcoming secret project.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! I grew up in Southern California, in a small city in Los Angeles county. I am very happily married, and we have a five year old son named Gregory.
How long ago did you become "an artist"? And what does that mean to you - to be an artist?
Well, I have always been labeled an artist ever since I can remember. I’ve always seen the world in a romantic way I guess, which lends to that label being placed on me at a young age. I spent most of my years in school just drawing at every free moment I could find. I even spent all my time drawing in daycare. I still remember those brown pieces of paper and oversized red pencils I used there. Between the moments I was flipping through Jumanji and Where the Wild Things Are, I was trying to draw what I saw in those books.
For me being an artist is basically someone who constantly has to reinterpret the world, or change the perspective on the world around them. I think in tangents all the time, and basically cannot stop myself from doing it. This has led me to being quite annoying to adults throughout my younger years, but it has become a positive quality in my illustration pursuits. All my reports cards as a child spoke about me not being able to stay on topic, or when they would call on me to ask a question, my question was very random. Now I look back at that and just see that aspect of me was my creative side, and not really interested in the line of thought being presented. Art fulfills these desires of mine, so I guess that is how I understand what the label means for me.
It seems like you've been really putting in the hours over the last year or two to build your illustration portfolio. I personally think it looks awesome and showcases your really amazing textured digital style. What goals are you working towards, and how close are you to reaching them?
Thank you very much! Yea, these last couple of years I really turned on the jets when it came to put in the hours that I needed to. I knew when started at SVS I was going to have to hold myself accountable and make sure I was drawing every day. One way I did this was to reach out to other SVS students, which helped me feel part of the circle.
My goals for the future are to get a literary agent, and hopefully be able to both write and illustrate. Last year I was fortunate enough to get a featured interview over at Kidlit411, which got me some good attention, and a couple literary agents interested in me. Just today I finished my book dummy and submitted it a couple days ago and hope to land an agent this year.
Beyond that, I have been working towards a secret project with people I met here, which we are just about to announce on social media. SVS has truly been a godsend.
What has been your biggest ah-ha moment in regards to your art or art career?
When I first started at SVS I thought my only limitation was perspective, and then I quickly realized I was bad at just about everything. I remember that being a real kick in the butt moment, but I decided to treat my time at SVS as though I was just learning to draw and paint, and so even if I thought I knew something, I went through the courses, and did the exercises.
My other big ah-ha moment was letting go of trying to find my own style, and just drawing and painting the way I liked. I have always drawn characters like Nickelodeon cartoon characters, and have painted like a gallery painter, because my brother was a realist painter, so that trickled down to me. I just stopped trying to change what I like, and only changed what I wasn't good at.
Could you share three pieces of your art that mean something to you (even if it's just because finishing them marked a particular point in your life or the development of your work)?
This is a hard one for me, because each piece I feel I learn something new, so looking back all I see are all the things I would change. However, each of these pieces were big parts of the last two or so years here at SVS, and so they mean something to me more than just what is seen by the viewer.
(giraffe painting) This one was the first image that I felt I could use my art as a conduit to express emotion without it being in your face with character reactions, or zanny perspective. It was a drawing I did early on at SVS but didn't think much of it so I put it in my drawings vault, and forgot about it. For some reason I found it sometime later and decided to paint it. I was very overwhelmed at the time, and that really comes through in the way I didn't use a ton of color I guess. I can look at this image and remember exactly what was going on in my life at the time. It was the first piece that felt not designed, or thought out, just painted.
(Lake Monster) All I remember about doing this one, was for a good few days I wasn't enjoying myself. I remember telling my wife as I painted "I really am not enjoying myself". I don't know what it was, but the weird thing is that I look back on it with fond memories. I tried a very different color scheme here, and in the end I wish I paid better attention to how I chose these colors because they worked out so well. Because I felt so detached while painting this one, it doesn't feel like my own work, so in some ways, I can appreciate it without being critical of myself. Good job Eric!
(Mouse Knight) Now the total opposite happened with this one. I really loved every minute of this. It is also the most comfortable I have felt with what I am doing artistically since I started getting serious about my art work. I really felt when doing this one that I had control over what I saw in my mind and being able to transfer that on the screen. Mind you, I tend to feel this about my most recent pieces, so maybe in a few months I won’t like this one as much, but for now, I like it.
What advice do you have for other artists who have the intention of finding work as an illustrator?
Put your art up in places where art directors are trying to fish for illustrators. I landed a full page in Highlights last December by simply participating in the Thursday (I think it’s Thursday) #kidlit trend. Art directors know about these little parties, and you should want to be at the party and be cutting a rug in the middle of the dance floor.
Enter contests! It doesn’t always matter if you win. Runner ups gets their art pushed as well, and agents and art directors are not committed to liking the person in first place. I was a runner up in the Kidlit411 banner competition last year, and it shifted my year by having a couple literary agents interested in me and getting to work on manuscripts right after that. I didn’t win, but the agents got to see my work.
You should also be sending out postcards, because after getting to meet some Highlight vets, it was very rare for anyone to get asked to be in Highlights, it usually is a job you get by asking them via their submission process which is laid out in the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market book which show who is looking for illustrators or not in that calendar year. Get that book and start submitting to different magazines.
Finally, don’t quit!
At this point, in a few words, what's your ultimate dream as an artist? Is there anything the others on this forum can do to be of assistance to you as you walk this path?
My ultimate dream as an artist is to make work that is valuable to me, and to others who I have made it for. I see my art as a gift, just like if I was broke and Christmas was coming, and so I decide to dedicate my time crafting something for those I care about, which most likely has elements of things they love and I love, and that gift becomes a valuable sentiment, and they keep it with them forever. I want my illustrations, and hopefully one day my books to have that sort of living spirit in them, and if I can accomplish that, I will be fulfilled.
As for what other on this forum can do for me: I don’t want to see anyone give up. Nothing bothers me more than seeing fellow artists in this pursuit with me lose faith in themselves. My vision for the future is that we were all here in this secret special place, and one day we will look back and see that we were pioneers as the first SVS artists. I will always be an SVS rabbit, and I want everyone else to pursue this common dream together with fire for it. Make sure that you are helping each other at every turn, and remember that you are not competing against each other, but with professionals, so you might as well win together.
Thanks a bunch, Eric, for taking the time for these questions!
Thanks for having me do this!
More of Eric's work can be found at his website: https://www.ericcastleman.com/
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts about what @Eric-Castleman has shared with us!
SVS Artist Interview with Teju Abiola
Here's another interview with one of the SVS forum members who is definitely somebody to follow. Although at the beginning of her career as an artist, she already has rich experiences and expertise that she has shared with us here on the forum, and will, no doubt, continue to offer to the art world as her endeavors move forward. Let's hear from Teju Abiola!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Teju Abiola, and I’ll be turning 21 later this month. I’m from Buffalo, NY, but I’m currently finishing up my last year at Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida. My favorite medium is watercolor, my favorite article of clothing is a sweater, my favorite fruit is the mango, and my favorite musician is Ben Rector
What is your earliest memory of making art? In a nutshell, what has your path to becoming an artist been like since then?
I don’t know if it is actually the earliest, but I remember being really little and having these cheap coloring books that had little swatches of color at the top that you could wet with a brush and paint with. I also remember making many crude tie-dyes with Crayola markers and paper towel. Otherwise, I think I tinkered around like any child, doing little projects here and there. Most of my art-making was during school art times/classes. I did try my hand at manga for a bit in middle school and failed terribly. I wasn’t really interested in art until high school and spent the majority of my free time as a child reading books. But surprisingly not many picture books! I actually had an elementary school friend who was really into art and drew all the time (she does product design now), but I was only passively interested. If you asked anyone what they thought I'd be, they'd have guessed I'd be an editor, writer, lawyer, psychologist or anything else probably.
High school is when I really started considering art seriously when faced with the question what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I’ve always been pretty good at school, but art was one of the things I felt my teachers really noticed me in. Other kids would slack off, but I cared just as much as any other subject, and it showed. I started doing research, and I guess something clicked.
Luckily I had a good track record in academics, so my parents trusted me and were really supportive, although I'm sure they were worried since they didn't know what to expect. Neither did I! I had no clue how to get where I needed to go or knew anyone who had done anything remotely similar, but the internet really helped me learn what to practice. Gotta shout out Will's videos here, and my mom for taking me to a few life drawing sessions and waiting outside for me I worked really hard to build a portfolio to get into a good art school, and some way somehow, I got in.
Could you share three pieces of your art that showcase your favorite style to work in?
Ooh, this is hard! I don’t think I have a cohesive style at all and I lean towards both illustration and fine arts (my portrait work) so it just depends. These aren't my favorite projects per se, but I do like how they turned out for the most part. The first image, The Spirit of Inspiration, is the most recent and a uses a watercolor digital hybrid that I’m currently streamlining and I’ve used in other pieces. The second is watercolor with brown pen and ink, and I was channeling old gift book illustrators. It’s a nice variation for when I want to include a heavier line, but not too harsh since I don’t like hard lines on my own work. The third is minimal, but I really enjoy things I did with the paint. It’s from the story The Light Princess, and I think I managed to capture the feeling that what I was going for.
We learned recently on the forum that you've accepted a job with Hallmark Cards and have also been picked up by Astound Illustration Agency. Congratulations! What are you most excited for, and what do you think will be your biggest challenge while stepping into this level of the professional realm?
Thanks! I interned at Hallmark over the summer, and I’m really happy to go back. There is a lot of history there, and really knowledgeable artists who have mastered their craft. I’m so excited to learn from them and be a part of that community. With Astound, I’m excited to work on projects that are tied more closely with my individual voice and style and to really expand my knowledge of the illustration industry.
I think my biggest challenge will be having confidence in my myself and not being insecure about my art all the time. As a student, I’ve become so used to constant criticism that I second guess my work a lot. On more than one occasion I've have been told to have more confidence. Several times I was asked if I liked what I had done or what I thought of it, and I honestly couldn’t say. I keep reminding myself that I wouldn’t have been chosen if I wasn’t what they were looking for, so I should have confidence that I can deliver as long as I keep working hard.
You're still enrolled in university, pursuing an art degree, correct? How do you think your formal education has impacted your journey and successes (for better or for worse)? Could you have gotten to where you are without it?
Yep, about to finish my last year! It’s hard to say how my career would be laid out if I didn’t attend Ringling, but I can owe my Hallmark job and current body of work directly to going to this school.
Hallmark has a long-standing recruiting relationship with Ringling, and so many Ringles work there that whenever I met one and they found out I went there too, there was this awesome understanding of a shared experience. I also had the opportunity of having them go through my portfolio and interviewing me in person, which I think contributed to me getting the position. I also wouldn’t have met my best friend who all but forced me to apply for their internship. I also wouldn’t have even known to consider them as a potential employer. Neither would my portfolio have been up on Behance for my agent to find if we weren’t forced to have a professional online presence as part of our curriculum. And deadlines, such a natural part of schooling, and I don't really worry about making them. I just know I have to.
If I hadn’t gone here and had certain instructors, I don’t know if I would have realized that visdev was the wrong path for me, or how much I loved to paint traditionally, or that I loved watercolors until much later if at all. I wouldn’t have learned as fast by myself for sure or learned wonderful things from classmates as well as faculty. There have been so many other opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of by being here. And I’d never have been forced to do things I didn’t like—experiences I’ve learned a lot from.
I don’t think I would have gotten to where I am because I wouldn't have known this was a place I could get to. But I do think I could have still been successful if I had taken a different path. But for me and the way I learn, I definitely think school was the right decision. I also started right out of high school at 17, so more formal education after a lifetime of formal education made a lot of sense. I got so much concentrated information in such a short amount of time. I grew up here. However, I will say, I’ve binged tons of art videos, podcasts, youtube channels, read books, scoured websites, used SVS etc, outside of class and on my own time which has rounded everything out so far.
One main negative thing is that because almost all my art education has been instructed, I’m not truly sure how to approach making art just for fun. I didn't have as many opportunities to fail or make art ignorantly and freely. That’s something I’m working on now that I have some breathing room before starting professional work.
Since I also have a Nigerian name, I recognized yours. Has your heritage influenced your art? I appreciated seeing the work you did for Inktober this year (viewable on your website! tejuabiolaart.com) which showcases diverse faces with beautiful plant life. How important do you think it is to show cultural diversity in the work we do as artists (especially for the children's book scene which, as Will Terry and Tyrus Goshay discuss here [https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=56UfBZzaM0w], has mostly white contributors)?
I recognized yours too! My parents emigrated from there and I was born here. They aren’t artsy people (doctors actually), so they never exposed me to Nigerian art aside from music, and most of my influences are from the art I grew up with and experienced here. I’m very blessed that they support me completely in this pursuit, and they’ve definitely given me that Nigerian work ethic. That’s the main influence I think. It sounds kind of weird, but compared to what I know they’ve gone through and sacrificed, especially for me to have the privilege of being an artist, being an artist is easy. It’s an honor to be able to do this work every day. I do have a personal book project in the works that is inspired by my Yoruba culture and family that I hope to complete and publish one day.
I think that today when everything we do is global, it’s really important to show a diverse grouping of characters. Especially for children and especially if you are trying to tell them stories. Just consider the people you know and see in your life. There are so many different people everywhere. If you truly want to reach kids and reflect the essence of what we all experience, that is a real part of life. I don’t know about other countries so much, but if you look at the US, there are a lot of different people, and one of the easiest ways to see that is how different we all look. I’m just entering adulthood, but I feel that some adults forget what it feels like to be a child and not feel like you belong. We’ve all felt that way, whether about race or not. If you could help a child feel more like they had a place, why not?
Honestly, unless there is a particular historical or cultural significance to the story (such as Civil War/ancient Egypt/Hanukkah/Chinese New Year) there isn’t really any reason not too, in my opinion. Just look at The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. A beautiful story about a black child, written by a Jewish man. I think it’s a fallacy to say or think you can’t create authentic stories about people who are different than you. Unless you are writing a story based only on yourself, all your characters are different than you.
Do you have anything to ask of the SVS forum community? Or any concluding words of wisdom?
Here's my question: What is a piece of art that has changed you, reflected a feeling, or inspired you that is not illustration or the field you are going into, and how/why? Think fine art, music, dance, film, literature, poetry, photography. I think it’s important to be inspired by many different things. Mine that I’ll share is the song "Fear" by Ben Rector; it's about the struggle of reaching a goal, the fear that still hangs around once you reach it, and how you learn to work with it. To me, it reflects how I feel about pursuing my art.
I’ve listened and read so many interviews with successful people of different professions and all of them discuss putting in the time and effort, failing, and continuing to work until they made it. I knew that no matter how long it took, I was going to put in the time. It’ll be hard, it’ll sometimes suck, but as long as I keep grinding through it and put in the right time and the right effort, I'd get there eventually. Who knows, this might all go south for me in a year or two, God forbid! Regardless, I'll keep working because eventually is good enough for me
Also, listen to everyone as if they each have something amazing to teach you. I’ve learned a lot that way.
Thank you for this opportunity, Kathryn!
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions. Best wishes for your artistic journeys ahead!
Once again, here's Teju's portfolio site: tejuabiolaart.com
Feel free to chime in below to answer Teju's question or respond to what she's shared with us.
SVS Artist Interview with Nyrryl Cadiz
Here's another chance to get to know, and be inspired by, one of our fellow SVS artists. This time Nyrryl Cadiz shares a bit about her life as an illustrator and what has motivated her to jump over obstacles to get to where she is now. You may recognize the art she's shared here on the forum, often lit with soft but brilliant light, portraying characters in a uniquely relatable way.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I’m Nyrryl. I’m from the Philippines and I’m 21 going 22 this February. If you’re wondering, my name is pronounced like ‘peril’. I’m self-taught and never attended any traditional art class. I wanted to take Animation in college but my family couldn’t afford it so my mother opted not to send me there. Back then, I didn’t even know Illustration was even a thing (not that there was any school in the Philippines offering Illustration anyway lol). So instead, I took up Civil Engineering. It was a bad decision. It was not for me. I felt I was trapped with no avenue to stretch my creative muscles. At the beginning, I did well but as the years went by, I sort of fell into a depression. I didn’t want to go to school, I didn’t want to get out of bed, it was terrible. Luckily though, I pulled through and I’m proud to say that I graduated just last March. I feel more pumped than ever to study art but I still have to study for my CE Licensure Exam ( it’s a national exam in the Philippines where if I pass, I’d be a licensed Engineer). The review takes about 5 months but it’s nice knowing that if things don’t pan out in Illustration, I still have a back-up. So wish me luck guys.
On your website, you wrote about being a young girl and passionate about art but not having any role models or professional artists in your small town to look up to. How did this affect your path, and how did you end up where you are today as an artist?
It was not easy. My grandfather was a photographer and he painted in his spare time but he didn’t technicaly draw for a living. Since no one I knew did art for a living, I assumed that it’s not a real job. I grew up thinking art is just a hobby and so I didn’t really gave it much of a thought career-wise. I never really practiced/studied it seriously. it’s only recently that I learned that you can actually make a decent living drawing. I had to sort of find my own way and teach myself art. I scoured the internet for resources, watching tutorials and imitating speed paints. That’s how I found Will Terry’s youtube channel and eventually SVS.
What are your ultimate goals and dreams when it comes to what your art can contribute to the world of children’s literature?
Wow, this is such a heavy question. I don’t believe my art can change the world any time soon but I do hope that it would help people’s lives even in small things. I want to make them smile when they’re sad. I want to remind them that there is always hope even in the darkest times. I want to help encourage kindness and understanding when all you can think of is hate. I want to spread goodness and positivity.
Though winning an award is great, I want to make a book that when a child will read, will always stick with him even as he/she grows older. (Now that’s sappy )
Could you share with us three illustrations that you’ve done? Feel free to share any details about why you made these pieces.
These images are all mile stone pieces in my art journey. They mark the various stages and progress of my skills and style. Well, that first image is my first “successful” digital illustration. I inked it traditonally and then colored it on photoshop using my wacom intuos small. This piece was made when I was first starting digitally. I didn’t know much about painting and color theory. And as you can see my work is still really flat looking.
The second image is the first illustration I posted on SVS for feed back. First I sketched and shaded that traditionally with a pencil and then colored that in photoshop. By around this time, I’ve started experimenting with photoshop and traditional media. This style was inspired by Jake Parker’s Little Bot and Sparrow look which I believe was also done in pencils and photoshop. I really like this style. I LOVE the texture. I was even planning to do the shading with watercolors. Perhaps, I can try that in the future. I set this style aside though because it took too much time at least for me to shade by hand and scan it properly into photoshop.
The third image, is my first ever entry to win a place in SVS’s monthly contests. I did that one fully digital using my ipad and procreate. This is the time I decided to go full digital as opposed to my previous mixed media works. I’m really proud of this piece. For me this a huge validation. As someone who has never gone to art school, I always have this insecurity that I’ll never be as good as those who did. This piece made me believe that perhaps, I do have a chance. Plus, this is also my first piece that I tried to render the heck out.
You did the illustrations for a book published in 2018 called “Hal’s Worst Wednesday”. Congratulations! It looks like an awesome book! Is this your first book or have you done others?
Thanks! It’s actually my second book from the same publisher but the first book is currently having some publishing issues. I’m not sure when it will be released. Other than that, I’ve done about 4 books before for indipendent authors and I guess about 1 of them is on amazon. LOL Hal’s worst Wednesday didn’t really pay much compared to deals I hear other illustrators are getting but it was certainly a lot for a starting illustrator who’s still at school like me.
My first “published” book was a project I did for my mother’s class. It was then and there that I realised that you can actually make a living drawing books. From there I started looking for jobs in places such as Upwork and Fiverr. I found menial gigs and projects but they were very low paying and most of the clients were... to put it nicely... weren’t the best. It’s alright though. I learned a lot on how to deal with nightmare clients that way. Just this December, I finished a book for a client I met on a facebook children’s writer-illustrator group. The pay was relatively small as expected but the schedule was very loose and the client was very nice to work with so that’s a plus. It’s comming out later this year. I might share an update on that soon.
How did you get the job for “Hal’s Worst Wednesday”? What was the most unexpected thing you learned from the project.
Well, I did that book about a couple of years ago. Back then, I was cold emailing agents with no success. My work back then wasn’t that great so maybe that’s why. I got tired of it all so I decided to just email all the publishers/agents that I found on the internet. Luckily enough though, a small publisher responded to me and we did 2 books. Again, the first book is still in the works. I think they’ve hired a new illustrator for that project because they needed to change the main character’s design because my design didn’t fit the trademark of the institution they’re using it from and I didn’t have enough time to work on it. I don’t know if I’ll still be credited as illustrator. That whole project is a mess.
Anyway, what I learned from that whole process is that ‘you’ll never be fully ready’. There will never be that right moment for you to reach out to publishers and agents and start working. There will never be that moment when your art will be at its best because it will always be changing. I’m seeing a lot of artist taking their chances though they profess that they’re not that fully prepared and making it big. There will never be a right time to chase opportunities. Instead, you make your own opportunities today. My portfolio was crap back then and my style lack-luster, but if I didn’t reached out to that publisher, I would have never gotten that opprtunity no matter how small it was.
Moving forward, what are your needs as an illustrator, and is there anything we can do as fellow SVS artists to support you?
Well, moving forward, i’m hoping to further improve and diversify my skills. Since, I can’t actively look for art jobs because of my current commitments, I’m aiming to further beef up my portfolio, adding at least a piece each month such that come June, assuming I passed my licensure exam, I can go looking for an agent. I think SVS is the best community to help me with this. The people in the forum are always willing to share their knowledge and give critiques. What I really need is a second pair of eyes on my work to point out things that I did wrong and SVS has provided me with so much more. I can’t thank everyone enough. Thank you!️
Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview!
Nyrryl's work can be found at her website: https://nyrrylcadiz.wixsite.com/portfolio
Please feel free to post comments or further questions for Nyrryl.
RE: Feedback on my work?
Don't worry, Craig! I couldn't figure it out at first either. I've seen many people on this forum ask about how to post photos...
First of all, make sure the file size is small enough. 1200 pixels on the longest side will work. (Though I think you can go larger at times and be fine)
The cloud icon with the arrow, or the arrow from the rectangle, both work for me for uploading images, but on my phone I have to manually scroll the icon bar to the right to see these icons. It may be more intuitive on a computer, but I'm not sure.
The image isn't finished loading until the end of the file name looks something like this...
If the file name still says "100%" at the end, keep waiting for the name to change again to the long string of numbers before posting.
I hope this is helpful. Maybe you've already tried all of this, in which case someone else may be able to help you figure it out, since it would be awesome to see your work!
SVS Artist Interview with Judy Elizabeth Wilson
A while back I started a personal project to interview artists on this forum. My hope was to learn from each person, to glean inspiration and to help record wisdom, personal experiences and expertise that might otherwise go unshared. So far I’ve learned a ton from the interviewees and it has propelled me onwards in my own art. Thank you to everyone who has participated so far!
I was surprised and excited when the SVS crew asked if I’d help with the interviews for their new “student spotlight” blog posts. If any of you take the seat of honor in the next few months, I’ll look forward to learning from you too! Thank you, SVS, for the awesome opportunity!
As for another forum member who I thought would probably share some exquisite gems, I asked a prolific creator of whimsical illustrations, Judy Elizabeth Wilson, if she would be up for an interview. I can imagine her enthusiasm and passion for her work after reading her responses. Here is a chance to learn from her and to enjoy samples of some of her latest creations!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, I’m Judy from the UK and a children's book author and illustrator.
Right now, I’m creating whimsical fairytale illustrations for the children’s picture book market.
I’m taking on drawing challenges to draw everyday. Last month I finished a 30 day challenge and now am in the process of turning the illustrations into patterns to sell to manufacturers.
Currently, I'm illustrating 3 children’s books. One is called, ‘If I Were King King’. This story is the reason I started drawing in 2011. The story is about King King, who will do anything to take over the only robot making machine left and keep all the robots, to create his army... Until he discovers something new and more dazzling. It’s a distopian comedy set in the future for 7-10 year olds.
'Nanny's Garden' is for younger children and is a touching story that practically everyone can relate to, which deals with the emotional subject of losing a grandparent.
'The North Pole Secret' is a lighthearted and fun Christmas story about young Rudolph whose unglowing nose sets him on an arctic adventure where he learns the North Pole's grandest secret.
Early in 2015, I took Will Terry’s Illustrating Children's Books course and had a live critique with Will and Jake. My work has got so much better studying with SVS. Will, Jake and Lee share the best information in all their classes and know how to deliver so you understand and can apply these new skills to your own art projects.
I have illustrated children’s books for publishers and had success with illustrating for self publishers.
One chihuahua, two yorkies and four mini chorkies dominate my studio. They are good fun and often end up in my art.
Could you also share a few examples of your artwork?
Artwork by Judy Elizabeth Wilson - An illustration from ‘If I Were King King’ reading, "I have travelled all over my resplendent kingdom. I am the big boss."
Artwork by Judy Elizabeth Wilson - A spread from ‘The North Pole Secret’
Artwork by Judy Elizabeth Wilson - A scene from ‘Nanny's Garden’
Artwork by Judy Elizabeth Wilson - A product of a recent 30 day drawing challenge
You definitely have a recognizable and personalized illustration style. How has your art evolved over time, and what helped you to come to the style you work with now?
When I started writing King King's story, I wanted to draw the motley machines, the four legged characters and King's castle full of robots. Learning to draw what you see in your mind's eye was the hardest challenge. I took things day by day.
I would describe my style as busy yet simple, I think kids relate to that.
Now, I’m working digitally with a Cintiq since Sept 2018. I switched to digital gradually using an Intous pen tablet for five years. I would ink linework and paint gouche and watercolour, scan and work in Photoshop.
I'm enjoying being where I am artistically, the journey is fantastic and I'm always thinking about experimenting and developing a unique visual language. This is a life-long exploration, and I plan to be storytelling and illustrating for a lifetime.
On the forum, you've been sharing some personal projects that evolve from goals to draw every day, such as your 365 Little Tiger illustrations last year. Could you talk about how that project evolved and what it resulted in?
In April 2017, I started a 30 day sketch book drawing project based on Henri Rouseau's jungle paintings. On day 30, I drew a cute tiger character in a tree full of birds. There was something interesting there and so I continued, first to 100 days then to do 365 drawings. I wasn't sure if I would get it done in a year and gave it a go. It took a year and 3 months to get 365 doodles. I shared the drawings on the forum and received so much feedback and encouragment, it was a fun time. I chose my favourites from the collection and inked the linework digitally. The 'Little Tiger and Friends' colouring book is now available on Amazon and I'm currently working on the second colouring book which is for even younger children. It will be a 'first colouring book' coming this summer. I'm working on some patterns for Little Tiger which would be perfect for children's bedroom decor, so step by step, I will get that done. Also I'm working on a collection of needle point kits with the Little Tiger characters.
You have seven beautiful finished books featured on your website. Is being an illustrator your full time work, or do you balance that with other professional endeavors? Also, do you have an agent or find illustration jobs for yourself?
Yes, I'm a full time illustrator. I create illustrations for museums and recently had a brilliant project creating illustrations for a children's museum.
I joined with my agent Allied Artists in October 2018. We are working to sell 'Nanny's Garden' and 'The North Pole Secret' children's books.
There are two more stories waiting to be finished by my desk. I'm focusing on finishing more stories into 2020. It's an exciting time.
What is your best advice for other artists?
Play never gets old. Keeping a sketchbook is the best playground for developing your ideas and visual language.
Momentum creates ideas which creates momentum. To move forward it's good to have a project of your own to work on.
Finally, what has been the biggest thing you've learned or realized recently through your work as an illustrator? Is there any way the other forum members can support you as you continue to learn and progress in your journey?
Finish what you start even if it takes longer than you think it will. When I was on the home stretch of the 365 day project I got behind and I remembered the quote,
'Accountabitilty not ability, determine your success'.
Having fun with your art and having a story to tell are the keys to creating great energetic and charismatic art for children. As visual storytellers in publishing, our job is to engage children to read so they can grow in confidence to be what they want to be. We are in a position to be able to support and nurture children through our work and share positivity through art and I appreciate the opportunity.
Thanks to all the forum members, we have a hive of exceptional artists working very hard to contribute to their particular field of illustration as they share their work and they develop their craft. It's an awesome group to be a part of. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy of The Little Tiger Colouring book. That was above and beyond! Thank you to our great SVS teachers and everyone behind the scenes.
Thank you so much, Judy, for taking the time for these questions! You're an inspiration to me when it comes to consistently and systematically creating.
Judy’s work can be found at her website: http://www.judyelizabethwilson.com
And her SCBWI profile: https://www.scbwi.org/members-public/judy-wilson
Her ‘Little Tiger and Friends’ coloring book can be found on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Little-Tiger-Friends-Adventure-Colorists/dp/0997872993
RE: Eager for suggestions - "Fearless"
If anyone has input on this, I'd love to hear it...
The older girl's face was looking too sunken to me, so I tried re-painting it. In the process, I tried closing her eyes since having them look up was just not reading well from far away. Do you think this "peacefulness", or look of concentration vs. looking up, conveys fearlessness?