Ask San: art related questions

Its time for round two of Ask San! In round one, I covered questions I get about my hair colors and styles. I figured for round two, I'd cover the other topic I get the most questions about: Art. I tried to pick the most frequently asked questions and answer them to the best of my knowledge, but if I don't cover something you are curious about – feel free to send me an email!


Ask San: Art related questions!

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c6d970b-800wiWhat exactly do you do for a living?
From 8-5, Monday through Friday, I'm an Illustrator and Graphic Designer for a firm here in Atlanta. (You can read more at my linkedin) During the evenings and on the weekends, I do freelance illustration. I stay preeeetty busy.

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c55970b-800wiHow did you become an illustrator?
According to my family, as soon as I was able to hold a pencil I started drawing. I began working professionally as an illustrator in 2007, and started taking freelance illustration work in 2009.

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c89970b-800wiDo I need to be good at art to be a designer/illustrator/etc?
Yes and No. A lot of it depends on what kind of job you want. If you want a really good, exciting and challenging job, then yes – I strongly believe you have to not only be good at art, but also passionate about art in order to succeed. And by art, I mean whatever type of artistic field you are interested in. So if you want to be a designer, than having an eye for what looks good is important, but you also must be interested in learning and growing with the design world. The same applies to illustration, web design, animation, etc. But this is just my opinion! If you are ever interested in studying something or pursuing a career in something, but are unsure – reach out to your school counselor, contact someone you know in the field, write a letter to your favorite artist, talk to your professor, etc. Never give up because you think may not have the right skills or aren't good enough – passion can take you a long way in acquiring skills and growing as a professional! Most people don't start out as amazingly talented artists, they have to grow into their skills – its a constant learning process. (Hope this makes sense!)

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c6d970b-800wiDid you go to art school? Should I go to art school?
I went to the Art Institute of Atlanta from 2001-2003 for Graphic Design, and then from 2003-2006 for Illustration. I really enjoyed going to art school – I think it is good for learning new techniques, being educated on the latest programs, learning how to meet deadlines, acquiring project management/business skills, networking, growing as a person, etc. However! Its not absolutely necessary. I've met lots of successful and talented professionals who didn't go to art school – they went to a regular type college or ended up leaving art school halfway though because it wasn't the best situation for them. Do what works for you!

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c55970b-800wiWhat tools/programs do you use?
For painting:
I use golden fluid acrylics, wood, and mixing mediums.
For drawing:I use carmine red pencils and non photo blue pencils for sketching, and Faber-Castell pitt artist pens for inking.
For digital illustration:I use the cintiq 21ux (at home) and the 12wx(at work) for drawing, and the programs Photoshop and Illustrator to do the drawing in (by Adobe).

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c89970b-800wiDo you like the cintiq? Is there a learning curve?
I looooove the cintiq. It has made my life 10 times easier for digital illustration! And honestly, I really like both models. At first, I wasn't sure if the 12wx was as nice as the 21ux, but now that I've had my computer upgraded at work, I can definitely say there is no difference in quality. My only complaint is the 12wx isn't as portable as I had hoped (it has A LOT of wires to hook it up) but I'd still recommend it, especially if you need to travel or work offsite and don't want to purchase a tablet laptop. If you plan to stay put with the cintiq, the 21ux is nice due to the large screen/workspace. I highly recommend both models for digital illustrators and animators. On the learning curve: it took me about 2-3 months to feel comfortable drawing on the cintiq without doing my sketching on paper first. It's nice because it doesn't require you to learn the hand/eye coordination that a regular tablet needs, but there still is a bit of adjusting to the tool.

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c6d970b-800wiHow do you pick your colors?
Sometimes I sample from photos that I use as reference, but mostly I work with my favorite colors as a palette. (Teal, Purple, Pink, Red, Black and Brown)

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c55970b-800wiWhat inspires you?
Flickr photos, reading blogs, people watching, listening to music, looking at other people's illustration work and sometimes tv shows/movies/books I'm into at the moment.

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c89970b-800wiHow do you get in galleries?
I still don't have a lot of experience with having my art in galleries, but so far – I've just searched for "calls for artists" and applied for shows I wanted to enter. I've also done some networking and picked up shows that way, or sometimes friends tipped me off about things I should participate in. Sorry that isn't too helpful – Nubby Twiglet actually wrote a great article on how to move forward in this direction, so if you want to learn more about getting in galleries go check it out!

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c6d970b-800wiHow do you draw hands/feet/hair/faces/girls/etc.?
I draw constantly and use references when I'm unsure on how something looks. Sometimes I'll take a picture of myself or a friend, or look in the mirror to figure out how something would look. If its an object I'm having trouble drawing, I go out and look at that type of object in person, or look at lots of photos showing the object from different angles. Practice, practice and more practice!! (And just when you think you've got it, there is probably room to improve again! Its never ending practicing/learning.) 

6a00e54ff0e35d88340120a5427c55970b-800wiWho are your favorite artists?
At the moment: Katie Rice, Jaime Hernandez, Tara McPherson, Bruce Timm, Ai Yazawa, Fafi, Adiran Tomine, Derek Kirk Kim and old school teenage fav: Naoko Takeuchi. Some of my more recent favs: Emmy Cicierega, Fiona Staples, Shane Prigmore, Brigette Barrager and StuntKid.


Hope this was helpful!


11 thoughts on “Ask San: art related questions

  1. Sanasaurus says:

    You should start up again! Its never too late πŸ˜€ I’ve lived in Atlanta since
    I was 12, it feels like foreverrrrr. I’m hoping to make my way out to San
    Francisco in the next few years for a bit of scenery change, you know – mix
    it up a bit! πŸ™‚


  2. Melanye K says:

    so cool that you’re a southern girl! i’m in western TN…thanks for answering all these questions because I’ve wondered a lot of them myself. I really would love to go to art school…i’m just a wee bit scared though. it seems intimidating!


  3. She says:

    I recently discovered your blog (through actually) and I really like it!
    I almost went to the Art Institute of Atlanta last year before going to Academy of Art online. AiA has a lot of talented students, and I loved the location of the school. Since I’m taking a hiatus from school at the moment, I almost regret not going there.( But I need to figure out where my passions really lie before going back to any school again.)
    Speaking of passions, I think you’re right about that. In the art and design industry you have to be able to evolve and become inspired by things outside your comfortable medium. For instance, I draw inspiration from art/design blogs that focus on painting and craft related projects. I also like going to art galleries, and carrying around a design journal for inspiration. Recently I’ve been getting into book binding, it really gets the creative juices going and flows over into my web and graphic design projects.


  4. Sanasaurus says:

    Starting off school can be a bit intense, but it is such an awesome
    experience in the long run (I think!). You should make an appointment to go
    on tour of the school you are interested in, it might make things a little


  5. Sanasaurus says:

    Sounds like you are off to a good start! I actually took a 3 month hiautus
    from school inbetween my design degree and my illustration degree – it
    happens and sometimes we just need to chill for a bit. And thats kinda neat
    you found me through! I don’t know a lot of people who use that :B


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