Each week, we interview a different artist and share their art and featured answers on our official Facebook page. This week's featured artist is @Quelfabulous, one of the members of the DeviantArt Collective!
What are your thoughts regarding an artist’s style?
I tend to approach 'style' from a very technical point of view and that there is a difference between an art style vs. an artistic voice. Separating the two has helped me avoid some tough growing pains- especially in freelance where the ability to produce multiple 'styles' is great for more job opportunities. The key difference is that an art style is something you can change and mimic, whereas our artistic voice is unique to ourselves. The 'artistic voice' describes an artist’s unique perspective on the world and the deliberate choices we make in our art whether to break rules or follow them. Anyone can copy a style. No one can authentically re-create YOUR voice. There will always be subtle differences, no matter how close the result. An 'art style' is a combination of process & result. Different processes, different problems to solve, different techniques used create different results. Together, they create a style.
Most of us like to operate in our comfort zone style, which involves a process that is familiar to us, reliable, leans into our artistic voice and is enjoyable. I think that's what any growing artist should aim for first, and once that comfort zone is established, there's plenty of room to experiment with new ones. The key to finding your comfort zone with style is finding art that you like and figuring out how to recreate those results- whether it be through tutorials or doing master studies. These things take a lifetime to learn, so don't sweat it if you haven't found a comfort zone style yet. Mine always feels like it's evolving with every new piece I do.
What are your favorite themes to create around?
If I am completely left to my own devices, my favorite themes aesthetically are history and nostalgia. I love researching time period clothing and designing clothing for characters, and it's my favorite thing to make references to another place and time with them. Sometimes, it's even memes. Haha. Narratively, I gravitate toward visual storytelling around genderqueer perspectives in fantasy worlds. I am compelled to tell a story of a world that has 99 problems but gender/identity isn't one of them.
What pulls you to create art?
For me, I think it started as an escape in my very young years. I was an only child with a big imagination and little support from my parents when it came to pursuing a career in art- the whole 'don't be a starving artist' spiel. To which, I'm very proud to have stuck with it and proven that ignorant view very wrong. But as I grew and my life changed, if there's one drive that stayed consistent, it was my love for storytelling. Through characters interacting to little comics- people and creatures alike, this was the nuclear power cell of my joy in art making. And when I finally broke into illustrating as a career, I've kept that joy very close to me as a motivator beyond survival.
When streaming, what atmosphere do you aim to create?
My big goal with the stream atmosphere is to be a down-to-earth, honest space where every art peer and folk joining in feels safe in being themselves and is accepting of us all being on different steps in our journey. We spend so much of our time worrying if we've done enough, stressing over numbers, thinking about work and being productive that I want the time spent with me to be a healthy reminder to take a break, breathe, and maybe circle back to the joy that art making can bring us all. It's important to me to foster this small-town kind of space where we focus on a positive, healthy space for the creative growth of fellow professionals & hobbyists alike for the betterment of the community as a whole.
How do you set goals for your art?
I set my goals small and achievable, and make an active effort to schedule time for professional development. Creativity is a cycle for me and is carefully balanced with time to consume media, then practice with that inspiration before moving into production work mode, and so I'm always sandwiching those goals between. One of the best things I've done for myself is theming my personal art OR occasional private commissions around things I want to improve on for my contract work. For example, if I want to amp up my portrait game, I'll offer character busts. If I want to practice a new style, I offer work specifically in that new style. If I'm doing something very adventurous that I'm not confident in delivering results on, I'll tackle it with a personal art of my original IP.
I understand it can be daunting for some artists to take this approach of learning on the job. It works for me because I'm very transparent to my clients about the expectations up front, and all are pretty excited to support my growth this way. But the important part to take away from not stagnating is taking growth opportunities in little bits. It's unfair to expect yourself to learn everything at once.
What’s a piece of advice you’d give those looking to dive into art?
Focus is very hard when you're in a position where there's a lot to learn. However, the most success I've had personally and seen with my students young and old is having a constant-- a 'vehicle' that drives learning. For many people, this vehicle is an original character. For me it was and continues to be my original IP (which is original characters and world).
It is important because it is a single consistent thing to measure your progress on and no matter the frustration of learning pains with skills, you will always have a motivation and joy in trying to make something of it. You will always have something you love to look back on- it encourages healthy habits of comparing your personal and creative growth instead of other people's. And--- it immensely helps with focused study.