the journal LevinLandâ€™s
Leslie Cober-Gentry takes us thru her latest project
Illustrator/Agent Sarah Beetson
Meet Shelley Zentner
Lake Tahoe's artist/activist
A digital artist on the edge of innovation
3D artist, Teacher Visionary Artist
YOU ARE NOT ALONE: The editor's notes on being an illustrator in 2018
STEP-BY-STEP Leslie Cober-Gentry takes us through her process as she designs art for soap tins PEN & INK AND TONS OF COLOR! We enter the wonderfully colorful world of Sarah Beetson ARTIST REP Arabella Stein gives us a piece of her brilliant mind. 3D VISIONARY Lori Hammond explains how she went from Disney background artist to 3D guru.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
STRAIGHT OUR OF POLAND Agata Karelus and her characters come to life as she creates a world of fantasy. OUR EDITOR INTERVIEWS HIMSELF In a revealing interview Lon Levin talks to himself about how he does his work and why. ARTIST ACTIVIST British artist Shelley Zentner from A-Z PLASTIC OCEAN Jesse Navarra gives us insight into his master class program
with Leslie Cober-Gentry
eslie Cober-Gentry is one of those special people who came into my life for a purpose that I didn't realize at the time of our meeting. I was one of her father's students, a great lover of his work. I had no idea Leslie was an illustrator until our mutual friend /mentor Murray Tinkelman introduced us when I came to speak at his University of Hartford Master Class some years ago. We lossely stayed in touch until the launch of the Illustrators Journal in 2011. By that time I realize Leslie had become a terrific illustrator in her own right and she was kind enough to allow me to interview her in one of our early editions. Fast forward to 2017, the Journal has picked up steam and when I let Leslie know we were stepping up our efforts she offered to give us an exclusive look into one of her latest projects. A step-by-step journey into how she approaches and executes her work. For those of you who don't know who Leslie is, (which is possible) here are some highlights; Leslie is a well respected leader and spokesperson within the illustration community. She's an awardwinning artist known for her uplifting, elegant art and design, Leslie Cober-Gentryâ€™s endeavors include a thriving and accomplished illustration career, she's a designer, curator, and educator. She Instructs and mentors undergraduates in Illustration as a Professor at The Fashion Institute of Technology NYC for the last 10 years. In addition she's an Instructor, mentor, director and thesis advisor to the Graduate MFA Illustration students as a Professor at Western Connecticut State University for 3+ years. Guiding and directing the MFA Illustration Students on a path to completing their visual and written thesis.
Leslieâ€™s lifetime of expertise in all areas of the industry, including publishing, visual n and editorial illustration are visible as she ma She's been a Curator and Chair of The Memberâ€™s show at The Museum of American Illustration Society of Illustrators NYC annually for 5 consecutive years, guest speaker to art and design students at various Universities throughout the country, and serves as a member of the NYC Landmark50 Alliance. A Chairperson of the Visiting Illustrator Lecture Series at WCSU (bringing in world famous, top notch artists), and if that's not enough she's been newly appointed to The Sanford B. Low Illustration Collection Committee at the New Britain Museum, looking over the Low Illustration Collection, advising, and creating ideas for future illustration exhibits.
When European Soaps, LLC enlisted Leslie to create art for their Astrological themed Soap line named "Savon Zodiaque, What's Your Sign?" and the tins they would be packaged in Leslie jumped at the chance. The Twelve shea butter enriched soaps deliciously fragranced to each unique Zodiac's personality were to be packaged in impulse-driven, fun, keepsake tins. The soaps are made from the finest of natural ingredients, lavender, wild flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, and the fresh sea air. Extreme pride and care is the foundation for everything European Soaps create, upholding the quality, artistry and authenticity demanded of products "Made in France".
narrative, childrenâ€™ s books, comics and graphic novels, advertising art, concept art, aintains her own active professional practice. Leslie's process to create something wonderful started with sketches. These sketch ideas were created by reading a manuscript the client provided and searching for zodiac reference.
Partially colored drawings were then printed on the studio printer on Strathmore 500 paper. The next step was for the Illustrations to go back onto the drawing table, where mixed media, gouache, prismacolor pencil, colored india inks, dip pen, and series 7 brush were used to complete all areas and intricate details of the entire drawing. The final drawings were scanned at a high resolution and sent to the client. Final originals are also sent to the client for a perfect color match.
Once she had the proper references the ideas started to flow until the final sketches for each sign of the Zodiac were created. Micron pen sketches were then submitted and approved by the client and were transferred to the final paper with a 2H pencil. The final drawings were drawn out with black ink and a dip pen on Strathmore 500 series paper. Once completed , the final ink line drawings were sent to the client via email. The line drawings were converted into plates that would imprint onto the top of the soaps. All the soaps have drawings imprinted into them. Final pen and ink drawings were scanned into computer and saved at a 600 dpi. In Photoshop, background larger areas were filled with color using paint bucket at 27%, to insure that the black ink line was still the strongest element of the zodiac drawing.
Leslie has won numerous awards, including The Society of Publication Designers, Printâ€™s Regional Design Annual, Vision Awards Annual Report Competitions, and Graphic Design USA. A list of words was then created for the client that best describes the illustrations created for each zodiac tin. This list would be used to choose the most accurate distinct scent that represents each Zodiaque soap created. The tins were printed in China. Soap are handmade and imprinted in France. Zodiaque are packaged and hit hundreds of stores and websites throughout the world. The description of the product so beautifully designed by Leslie reads; Savon Zodiaque | What's Your Sign? Twelve shea butter enriched soaps deliciously fragranced to each unique Zodiac's personality. Packaged in impulsedriven, fun, keepsake tins designed by illustrator Leslie Cober-Gentry.
Leslie serves on: The Executive Board of the Society of Illustrators, NYC The Board of Directors of SI as Event Chair. The Board of Directors of the Fairfield Theatre Company, Fairfield, CT, passionately spreading art, design, culture, & live music throughout the community.The New Britain Museum of American Art Sanford B D Low Illustration Collection Committee The NYCLandmark50Alliance, a committee chaired by the Chair of the NY State Council of the Arts, 85 representatives of NYC most important art and cultural communities. She represents SI on the committee.
When Sarah Beetson was seven years old, she had three ambitions – to win Wimbledon, to be a rock star, and to illustrate a children’s book like Quentin Blake. She’s come pretty close to meeting that third ambition, and has major clients in fashion, editorial and publishing. She also shows in galleries around the world. Sarah spends most of her year in Queensland, Australia, returning to the UK for a few months now and again, on top of her other globetrotting endeavours such as a threemonth artist in residency at Coney Island, New York. Here is my interview with this wildly creative artist.
Interview with Lon Levin
When did you start doing artwork and who influenced you? Did you get support from your parents, friends, siblings? As I child, my brother and I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s pub, entertaining ourselves with coloring books and felt tips (he trained as a graphic designer). I remember winning a My Little Pony Comic coloring competition at age 5, and a CCC competition at 8, and a lady offering to buy one of my drawings on holiday in Portugal when I was 11. My mum particularly always encouraged us. And my dad told me recently that he still has a framed realistic pencil drawing of a Coca Cola Can in his office that I did as a child, dated 1989! I’m sure that the colorful cartoons and TV of the 1980s, like The Care Bears, Wuzzles, Popples, The Raccoons, Teddy Ruxpin, Punky Brewster, Jem and The Holograms and The Garbage Pail Kids were a big influence on my later color palette. My mum always made sure we had plenty of Disney classics in classics in the VHS cabinet – I think the earlier ones like
Snow White and Fantasia were big favourites. I also loved early Tom and Jerry. Growing up in the 80s and early 90s definitely influenced my colour palette, saturated with rainbow, pastel and neon tones. Give us a little bio of your history (school, family, early jobs, etc) Particularly anything surprising or amusing. I studied for a BA HONS in Illustration at Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall for 3 years, gaining a 1st class. It was an incredible experience, being accross the other side of the UK from where I grew up (in Cheshire). Falmouth is a beautiful seaside town, with equal parts students from all corners of the globe, local Cornish folk and sailors coming in from ships - Falmouth is the 3rd deepest natural harbour in the World. with a great creative gang of student talent from around the globe - I lived and worked with students from Norway, Sweden, Greece, Switzerland, and Argentina, and my lecturers were successful practitioners
"I was living below the poverty line, existing on £130 per week" within the field of Illustration. After Falmouth, I spent 4 years in London. I started off interning for Yellowdoor (Mary Portas' Fashion Marketing agency), Pop and The Face Magazines, and Stella McCartney, where I spent 9 months assisting the head of print design. It was a totally transformational experience - and where I learned the value of extensive research in shaping projects. I still use some of the techniques I learned with print and embroidery there within my illustration work today. Whilst I was interning and earlier at uni, I survived cobbling together cash from the occaisional commission alongside jobs in bars and nightclubs. Really the term ‘impoverished artist’ is an understatement – I was living below the poverty line, existing on £130 per week cobbled from numerous bar jobs whilst interning in the fashion industry full time and paying £112 per week in rent! I literally ate one decent meal a day. I hung in
there finding time to create art wherever I could in between jobs in my tiny shared flat, often working on my bed due to lack of space. By early 2004, my debt and overdraft had reached crisis point and I faced leaving London – when suddenly I was thrown a lifeline. Bartending friends from the punk club Electric Ballroom. I met some amazing creative people in those squats who are now successful actors, burlesque stars, artists, fashion designers and TV tarot sensations! I am so proud to call those people my friends, we came so far together. I developed my portfolio in those squats, and in doing so there followed illustration commissions. I got an illustration agent in Canada and one in London. It took three years, but I got back on my feet. It was so hard at the time, but I’m glad I went through it as it makes me so thankful for where I am today.
met some amazing creative people in those squats who are now successful actors, burlesque stars, artists, fashion designers and TV tarot sensations!"
Your work is what I'd categorize as organized chaos. Is this something that comes naturally or did you purposely head in that direction?
Where's Sarah artistically 10 years from now? ( By way of example I have always planned to spend my later years painting large canvases in a barn studio with animals all around)
It developed from life drawing classes at Falmouth, we were taught the blind contour drawing technique, in which you place your pen/pencil on the paper and look at the subject, drawing â€˜blindlyâ€™ without taking your eyes from the subject. This technique can be totally haphazard with moments of clarity; a mess of abstract lines with a perfect hand or eye within it. I decided to combine this technique with the bunch of other materials / styles I liked to work with, and hence my style was born. The focus has always been on colour combined with the line - and I've refined it a lot over the years as my drawing skills have improved.
I already have the giant studio on the farm with 10 rescues hens and the occasional wallaby who come into visit! I have always had this rough life goal that I would love to create a series based around the English lyrics from Jacques Brel's "Amsterdam" - creating a large scale painting for every line in the song. It would definately have to involve a trip to Amsterdam to collect photographic reference! I also want to continue to explore my Coney Island series - and to study other seaside amusement meccas like Santa Cruz, Blackpool and Margate in the UK, The Vienna Prater and both Luna Parks in Sydney and Melbourne.
Your personal palette that you use in a lot of your work is very colorful. It seems to indicate that you are colorful as a person as well. Is that intentional or have you always been that way? I have always been obsessed with colour which I think comes from growing up in the grey, rainy north of England where the only bright colours came in the form of the travelling fairgrounds that arrive every summer –––– which have left an obsessive mark. It is no coincidence that I ended up in sunny Queensland, Australia, where 300 days of sunshine per year saturate the palm trees, neon signs and 60's architecture on the Gold Coast in a pastel colour pallette of dreams! In your role as talent scout what are your responsibilities and how do you find talent (other than people contacting you as I did) Also what are you looking for when you suggest a talent to the group? Is that your sole duty for the agency? I manage the many thousands of submissions that come into the agency via email, and I scout for new styles also. I'm always on the lookout for new and unique styles - which are hard to come by in an internet age that feels so saturated by trends. The most rewarding thing about my role is when I've championed an artist whose work I really believe in, and the team at Illustration Ltd then decides to offer them representation. Giving an artist that career big break is so rewarding! Are there any artists that you look up to or model yourself after? Who and why? I am not sure about modelling myself after, but the artists whose work and stories have most inspired me are Keith Haring, Antonio Gaudi, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Julie Verhoeven, David Downton, Jamie Hewlett, Cindy Sherman, Cary Kwok, Henry Darger, Grayson Perry, Martin Parr, Yoshitomo Nara, Aubrey Beardsley, Robert Crumb, Alan Moore, Antonio Lopez, Vaughan Bode…. and many more.
This may sound odd but you seem like someone who would like sweets. Do you? If so what's your favorite? I used to love sweets but I am trying to eat less sugar! Parma Violets, Love Hearts, sherbet, flying saucers, rhubarb and custard and candy letters were my favourites growing up - I loved their pastel colours and lettering on the packaging. Nowadays I prefer looking at them and drawing them than eating them! What do you think about what's happening in the world around you? How has it affected you and your work. I noticed your Trump artwork and (i'm going out on a limb here) I'm assuming you don't like his politics. Can you explain why? Definately not a Trump fan at all! As a Brit living in Australia, I was just astounded when Brexit happened. I felt so distant from my home country. As home secretary, now PM Teresa May brought in a minimum income requirement from Brits wanting to sponsor their spouse/family to live in the UK - which my boyfriend and I do not meet. Therefore I am effectively banned from living in my home nation with my partner, so I was already feeling very alienated. I remember being in New York with some fellow Brits when Trump was running, talking about how if Brexit could happen, we could see Trump getting in. I created my Garbage Pail Politics series as a parody on current events, and to channel some of my despair! I was home in the UK to exhibit my Garbage Pail Politicians when our recent general election was called, and was fairly happy with the hung parliament. I really hope Jeremy Corbyn is our next PM. I still believe in change. Here in Australia, the government is in the process of conducting an expensive non-legally-binding survey on marriage equality. I am hoping the law will finally be changed. Editor: Many thanks to Sarah for her candid and revealing interview. She's a clear example of an artist who lives for the process, hence her unique and entertaining work
"I already have the giant studio on the farm with 10 rescues hens and the occasional wallaby who come into visit! "
my opinion by Lon Levin
I may be wrong. I want to say that upfront. It's just,... I'm suspect of artist reps. I've had a few and most were not very helpful. I'm sure I'm not the first illustrator to say I followed my reps advice and took the wrong jobs. Jobs and projects that lead me down a path towards complete burnout or my own demise. In retrospect I blame myself for those kind of mistakes more than anyone else, because I was hungry to get work in a certain area and (how many times have you heard this?) It seemed like a good idea at the time. However I find fault in any artist rep who points you in a direction they know isn't good for you just to make money. When I started my career as an illustrator I had no idea how to get work. There was only one rep working in LA that I knew about and he repped around 10 illustrators. On top of that he had a top illustrator named Hank Hinton at the time and my work was similar so he passed. Work was hard to come by so I took some art direction classes at night and got lucky with the teachers I had. I soon found out that my illustration skills were helpful to me as an art director. I got a few free-lance jobs then landed a position at 20th Century Fox as an art director. I was now in a position to give out work instead of asking for it.The reps soon came knocking at my door. For two decades I worked as an art director, creative director and finally an art department head. I handed out hundreds of projects to different art reps. Some I like better than others. I came to see how they operate and how they
treat their artists. Of course the top artists always got preferential treatment. However, if they weren't available the reps would pitch their look-alike artists. Eventually you'd have to settle on a stand-in or a copy artist. You paid a little less and the art was not as good but the execs were happy. The artists however was branded as second class and it probably hurt their chances to get top dollar at that studio in the future. Down the road, that artist might go to a place they never expected. They reach their level of i n c o mp e t e n c e a n d s t a rt t o lo s e wo rk because they were not playing to their strengths. It happens in the entertainment business, children's books and now in gaming and film visualization. And sometimes behind the artist who takes that trip is the rep nudging them all the way. Yes, the opposite happens as well. The stand-in impresses the advertiser, they step out of the shadow of veteran illustrators and become stars. Again the rep might be the player in the background helping the artist carve out a career that highlights their best abilities. What am I saying? Choose wisely, think about your career path and know your goals. Work with a rep who "gets" you. If it not working with your rep find another or go your own way. Don't be so hungry for work you'll take anything and certainly don't let a rep talk you into something you know you're not trained to do. Be smart, be patient and practice your craft daily. Your time will come.
Illustration by Lon Levin
a bright Agent Arabella
Arabella Stein is an Artists Rep at Bright Group in London. Bright creates business for artists, writers and other creative people, enabling them to find the very best work opportunities and commissions. First of all, you're rep for Bright. Do you handle literary and illustration? Do you have a preference? Bright was always an illustration agency first, but the way in which our MD and Founder Vicki has let the company evolve has very much been to develop with the artists we represent. We grew together, so over the last 14 years we’ve progressed to create worldwide, best-selling and award-winning authors and illustrated works by our artists. Bright is also developing its literary list; we are interested in children’s picture book texts, chapter books and middle grade fiction. This department is in its infancy, and will grow gradually alongside our picture book activity. Are you a writer or illustrator? I’m neither. What I hope I am is someone who assists and enables writers and illustrators. I was brought up in the world of publishing and prior to being an agent at Bright, was an editor and worked in a literary agency representing American agents and authors into the UK. But to understand how illustration complements text is key to the success of the picture book as one cannot exist without the other. I could not do the magnificent things our illustrators do
with their artwork nor write as beautifully as our authors. Bright offers a unique approach to representation. Can you explain what the approach is and why it is so unique? The organic nature of the company’s progression I’ve touched on in Q1, so our unique approach has developed over time, but the company ethos has always been the same: Ultimately our team is consistently working in the best interest of our artists, to nurture talent and develop careers, reaching each artists’ full potential. Our growth and subsequent approach is a direct result of the artists’ work at our fingertips, with artwork, character development and brands naturally evolving over time. We couldn’t get the results we do without our talented artists and the dedicated team of agents and staff, fully invested to work with our artists to make this happen. Bright works beyond the standard agency practice to deliver the best results we can for the illustrators and authors we represent, by also not only negotiating the initial deal, and then applying all the due care and attention to the contract, their royalties and the publication process, but also having an in-house marketing department. In addition to all this we now have an artist support team in place, working with our artists to ensure online portfolios are curated to be the best they can be and being an ongoing resource for them regarding general industry or administrative queries.
(cont.) We also believe the agents role now goes further: Bright agents are focused on strategy and creative direction, getting our artists the right deals to sustain long term success across many different territories and divisions. (We have a collective of specialist agents, working across all areas of art licensing, design, advertising and children’s publishing). What does Bright look for in a creative talent. Is there a methodology or is it a gut feeling? It’s a bit of both. We know what we think the market needs, we know what is selling and what’s been oversold. Having said that, there needs to
be that something – that magic we can’t put our finger on, that makes the hairs on our arms stand when we read the last page of a wonderful picture book. Bright is known to take on raw talent and develop it; take Nicky O’Byrne and David Litchfield’s first time author illustrator works, both Waterstones Picture Book Award winners. Or Jarvis and Yasmeen Ismail’s V&A Illustration Awards. Artists don’t just arrive ready to go. Your gut feeling is the knowledge that your methodology for art development and placing them with the best possible publisher for their work, will succeed because there is true talent already there.
"I could not do the magnificent things our illustrators do with their artwork nor write as beautifully as our authors" How did you get started in this business and why did you choose it?
What do you consider your best attribute as a creative rep?
I was brought up in the world of publishing, with a father who was an agent, and a mother who was a publisher. Initially as a bookseller, and later as a publisher myself and then a literary agent, publishing was for me also the only career path that I too was truly drawn to.
A thorough knowledge of the publishing industry and the people in it always helps. Being able to sustain relationships with good energy and personality helps too! Creatively it’s vital to be able to work with artists enabling them to believe in themselves, and to achieve more than they realise they can. Having integrity – because to be a success, the work we produce with our publishers and artists simply must have this too.
Who are your greatest influences? In the world of children’s picture books, Milne and Shepard set a wonderful example – and at a time when their work is being so celebrated this feels apt. Their working style was revolutionary. Instead of Milne writing the words and Shepard’s picture added later as if an afterthought, as had always been done, they collaborated, with neither in charge. Apparently, initially they didn’t even like each other! But this way of working is such a true collaboration and a celebration of enhancing one person’s talent with another, and something that I don’t think we should lose sight of. Can you give us a short bio of yourself? What you were like growing up and where you come from? I grew up in London, but spent every summer in the US, decided not to go to University after leaving school, but moved to New York to work in publishing – and in those days it really was photocopying and typing! But I loved it. Having moved back to London, initially I did work on the adult side, until my absolute love for children’s books took over and I joined Bright in 2016. I have two children – one absolutely a reader and one very definitely not, and it’s been such a range of books that has absorbed them both into different reading worlds. I so want them to have the enjoyment and appreciation for storytelling in whatever shape or form.
If you weren’t doing the job you’re doing what do you think you would do? I’d be a midwife. I love the idea of bringing babies into the world, but don’t actually want to do it! How does the world around you affect what you do? There is a lot in the trade press currently about our responsibility to children and the future of our society. And with good reason! So I’m going to echo these sentiments – that we are in a privileged position within the publishing world to create content that will reach the bookshelves and hands of children. The world around me does affect what I do, because I have an opportunity to make positive changes to the children in it. To create picture books that tell a story that gives them hope, relatability, expression and joy gives me great pleasure as well as a sense of fear and accountability!
"We know what we think the market needs, we know what is selling and what’s been oversold."
5questions with LORI
hammond Lori Hammond ~ currently the Academic Director of Media Arts & Animation, Game Art & Design, Visual Effects & Motion Graphics and Visual Game Programming at The Art Institute of California Hollywood. Ms. Hammond has worked as a Training Specialist at Disney Feature Animation Studios, where she worked on films; "Bolt", Goofy Short "How to Hook Up your Home Theater" and "Princess & The Frog". Ms. Hammond has worked in feature film,TV, Webinars, and shown her work in galleries both nationally and internationally.
Tell us about yourself My background is multi-faceted and has allowed me to experience being a creator. When I began to draw at a young age I had no idea it would lead me to New York where I would receive my MFA in Digital Art with a focus on 3D Animation from Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY. Over the years I have been lucky enough to work in the education, fashion, events and entertainment. I got my first real job in entertainment a few years back as a Training Specialist for Walt Disney Animation Studios. This job gave me the experience I needed to progress not only as an artist but as a educator and it opened doors to a multitude of other experiences not to mention working with the most talented people in the industry. My job there was to train the artists on the software used to create such titles as "Princess and the Frog,” "Bolt,” and a short animation:
"Goofy -How to hook up your Home Theater.” I enjoyed the experience and am thankful. Currently I am the Director of The Art Institute of California - Hollywood and it is my goal to help the students there get the same opportunities as I have had. While education is my day job the Artist in me never sleeps as I am a consummate creator. Currently I am working on an illustrated graphic novel, short artistic videos for gallery displays, and I am a designer for a clothing line on Vida, and you can find my collection here: https://shopvida.com/collections/hammond-lori When did you first notice you were interested in art or creativity? Did you get support from your family and friends, teachers, siblings etc. or a mentor?
The first time I knew I was interested in art. was the day my grade school teacher gave us Fall color paints and told us to paint a fall landscape with tall grass, I believe we all had a reference however I can't remember now but I do know that while all of our paintings looked "similar" mine "popped out" to me, it felt like the best one up there (she posted them all on the wall in the front of the classroom) and everyday I looked at it I felt that it "sang" that it captured something more than just fall grass. I felt it was an accomplishment for me and it was the first thing that ever made my heart sing in response. I did not have a mentor in arts per say but my brothers were good with music so maybe we had the same creative bug but mine was visual where theirs were thru sound. How did you feel growing up as an artistic child? Did you feel great, out-of-place, odd, unique. What were your other interests?
I always felt "out of place" but more so because of other factors, I was adopted and I also had red hair and I was the only girl in my family full of 5 boys. I was the youngest and I was a bit of a tomboy loner. Wherever we lived we had woods by out house and I would always be found in the woods playing, imagining and creating worlds by myself. My grandmother (who adopted me, my Dad died when I was seven and I never met my mom) put me in Ballet and Tap dancing and acrobatics and so my interests
were also in movement and form and beauty and this I found later helped with Animation and Art when it came to composition, line, form and motion. I know you worked at Disney. Was that something you always wanted to do? Once you got there did it meet your expectations? Yes, I worked at Disney but I had never had that "dream" "desire" to really work at Disney nor did I ever at any point consciously make that my goal. I had always only ever wanted to be an artist (with my own voice) and that was and is my goal still to this day. I believe for the most part that Disney and later Education were great experiences for me but they did not meet my expectations nor fill my heart or soul. Disney allowed me the chance at a way to make money off of my talent but only in the areas of "how I used the software" not how I created the art nor the art itself. My art is not production art and probably never was meant to be nor will ever be? I am not sure where my art fits in today's market but I do believe there is a place for it possibly in textiles (fashion) or possibly music videos or galleries. I am reaching out into those areas now. In the past I have helped connect artists to independent animation productions, as well as personally work on special projects with other artists. I am grateful when I'm lucky enough to meet someone who I resonate with, such as Jerryco Manjarres who I collaborated with on several paintings and drawings, but who was also was a huge muse for me opening doors to conversations that led to ideas that led to videos that led to paintings. When you are lucky enough to be able to hear other peoples stories and to help them express themselves in some way, well then you are lucky and I am grateful to have been lucky for some time with our artistic partnership. I hope to "level up" as they say for the next level of collaboration... who knows what the future holds. How did you go from working on character animation to doing the 3D abstract designs you do now? What's behind the genesis of the 3D work you do now. Does it mean something to you that you're trying to put out into the universe? or is it design for design sakes? Well, I've never "officially" been a character designer, while I have the skills to model just about anything in 3D from Character to
"The story of: The Every Changing Bee & Dragonfly" by Jerryco Manjarres and Lori Hammond
Environment to Abstracts I have always preferred abstracts. In grad school I started "playing" with creating abstracts by using code in Maya, specifically modeling with Nurbs and using "Expressions" to help model and animate. It was part of my thesis to learn MEL and Expressions since my thesis topic was on Creating Art using 3D software. I wanted to prove that you could create art that could hang in galleries not just 3D for games or Animation but 3D as another form of "expression" just like using a tool brush.This was always my goal.
"I always felt out of place ...I was adopted, I had red hair and I was the only girl in my family full of 5 boys!"
digital Agata karelus
painting "master digital Artist"
Do you do your work using traditional materials or When did you first realize you were an artists or had artistic talent?
Oh my glob! I didn’t realize anything - I’m too busy drawing! It’s possible that my talent is on it’s way but it will take a lot more work for it to get to me. Did you have encouragement to pursue your dream of being an artist ? or did it just happen over time? Both! I had encouragement from my parents, now from my husby Tomek Karelus and being an artist and calling myself one - that happened over time. I’m never happy enough with what I do and that’s
what keeps pushing me forward. Do you have Parents, brothers sisters? A little family history? I have both Parents and a younger brother. The female part of the family is artistic and little crazy, the male part is more down to earth - so when I need some precise help I call my Dad and when I need to cry over my shoulder - I call my Mom. And I’m in love with my nephew - he loves to draw - mostly mushrooms which btw is really narrow specialisation but I believe in him. We also have one old dog, one old cat, we used to have 3 horses, 2 goats, 1 pig and goose.
g "I grew up in Warsaw, Poland in really crazy times when Poland was still socialist country. I remember standing in a lonoong, looong, line just to buy a toilet paper - which btw was more of a sandpaper"
"The female part of the family is artistic and little crazy,
the male part is more down to earth - so when I need some precise help I call my Dad and when I need to cry over my shoulder - I call my Mom."
Where did you grow up and how do you think where you grew up affected your art? I grew up in Warsaw, Poland in really crazy times when Poland was still a socialist country. I remember standing in a long, long, line just to buy a toilet paper - which by the way was more like sandpaper than the real one we have now. It was hard times but people cared more about others and I can’t say a bad thing about my childhood - who wouldn’t love to be a kid in the 80’s! And sure it affected my art - look at colors I use - it's all 80’s! Your personal color palette is very saturated and intense. Does that come naturally or did you make a conscious effort to use color that way? Yes it comes naturally - sometimes even to easy - I tried, I really, really tried to be an adult and use colours like a pro should - and the end was always the same. It’s possible that it’s the only way I see my inner world - it’s a dream of kid living in 80’s and I can’t do anything about it.
Who influenced you? Artists ? Teachers, family? In my early days - my Mom as she is an artist herself - then there was the internet and other artists - now mostly it’s my husby - he has this power to make me better person and better artist. He is an art director, director and an illustrator himself which makes him an artist, teacher and family all in one. And he has magic patience - that’s what makes him great wife puppet master! If you weren’t an artist or a photographer what do you think you’d like to do? I would sat on a stone and cry my eyes out than I would probably became a farmer. I’m pretty good with horses (not so great with cats - that’s why I have one - obviously) and I would drive a tractor all day long as I love to drive!
lon levin Interview with
Interview by Lon Levin
I'm quite aware that sticking an interview with myself is a little self-serving but I believe it's also constructive. I started this publication because I was interested in how other illustrators work, live and go about their lives. I wanted to connect with them, know them and do right by them. We artists work alone most of the time, and in some cases don't sleep much or when necessary do "all-nighters". So reading about each other's lives is a good way to connect and to know that you're not alone.
How does your work take form? I start with an idea then thumbnails sketches. The sketches are very crude but they serve as a guide. Once I have an idea I either collect scrap, use stock or take pictures to support the poses and the look and feel I'm after. I build a rough look in photoshop then switch to Illustrator. I usually sketch over the rough art in Illustrator with a stylus. Then I started rendering using tools in Illustrator. The ability to use layers to separate elements makes it easier to resize or rebuild individual areas without disturbung the entire image.
You were an art director, so you ve worked with many illustrators. It seems like you might have a leg up on other illustrators knowing how they think. How does that affect your work as an illustrator? It doesn't. My time as an art director is over by choice. I love creating imagery that enhances whatever project I'm working on. I want the art director to guide me and give me feedback. Besides things have changed so rapidly in our industry my knowledge of what an art director does these days is very different than it was back 5-10 years ago. Do you do experimental work completely different from your published work? Always. In fact I think in many ways that confuses potential clients and/or reps. I know they like to see consistency in an illustrators work. If you show one piece that's different from 12 others it places doubt in their minds, which I find odd. To me versatility is a gift. It's what made me such an effective art director and kept me on a roll when I worked as a freelancer. How long do you see yourself doing kid lit art? Do you have any ideas for books you intend to write and illustrate? I do kidlit art all the time. If I don't have a paid project I create my own. It gives me a chance to explore new techniques and styles. I have ideas for books and I've written a few but I'm not pushing that part of my creativity right now. I'm leaning towards creating large paintings that are more intuitive and not planned. When I start out I don't want to have a plan of what I want to do. I want to see what forms then shape it as a sculptor would.
Anything new you've wanted to do for a while that you are excited about? The Illustrator's Journal eZine and Podcast! My publication partner, Gregg Masters and I have stepped up our efforts to make the Journal a destination publication. I am always searching for great stories, ideas and illustrators to interview. I've been very lucky and I'm very thankful that artists worldwide have taken time to speak with me and reveal a little about their life and artwork. I have some other longer term projects like my semi-biographical graphic comic novel "The Kid From Beverly Hills" which I'm targeting to be finished in 2019 and a picture book I wrote and dummied about General Tom Thumb and PT Barnum. I also created a new publication called READY which is a promotional tool for my real estate business. The format is essentially the same as The Illustrators Journal but it encompasses a little more about related businesses that support the real estate business. I still go behind "the curtains" so to speak to get to know people.
Do you do your work using traditional materials or do you do work digitally or both. How has working on the computer helped or hindered? Do you do any social media marketing? I do use traditional materials, specifcally pencils and water oils. I sketch out on cold-press boards and paint into the drawings. Mostly, however I work digitally. It's more liberating because the concerns an artist would have working traditionally are not a problem working digitally, specifically changes, or alterations. I can also experiment a lot quicker and easier. Additionally I can get real close to my art and fix details which traditionally would be very difficult to do. Working on the computer has helped me quite a bit, especially timewise. I can do things a number of different ways to cut time which would be impossible traditionally. The only hinderance I perceive is there isn't a physical piece of art. Somehow I think there are still clients that place a special value on art they can touch and feel. It seems more real to them. I do tons of social media marketing. It allows me to reach out and communicate to many more people than I ever could call or meet in person.
How long did it take you to establish yourself in the kid lit area? Was it hard for you or did it happen very easily? I'm still establishing! This is tough question for me. I've illustrated 15 or so children's books but none that have broken thru. Most of them are done in a style I no longer work in. I do like some of the work in "There's A Kid Under My Bed" and wish I still had the art but a Canadian art collector bought them all. I'm working towards getting that one great project that'll be a break through for me, the publisher and the writer. How has your wife reacted to having an artist as a husband. Do you talk about your work together? My wife is a saint. She puts up with my ADD behavior and my very active imagination. As long as I do my chores (washing dishes, making the beds and taking out the garbage) she's happy. Actually we talk about everything and though she's not an artist she is very creative and has great ideas. She is also a brutally honest critic. I couldn't do what I do without her.
" I love creating art with the computer. I've been doing it for the last 25 years and it never ceases to be a source of fascination and excitement!"
Shelley Zentner is a British artist, living in Lake Tahoe, California with her husband and young daughter.
She teaches Oil painting, Drawing and Art History at Lake Tahoe Community College. She considers herself to be a lifelong learner, fascinated by nature and her environment. Her work is driven by a love of the human figure, philosophy, history and art history.
Interview by Lon Levin
I read where you said you started drawing nudes at 12 years old. I can relate to that because I too started drawing nudes but not for the same reason as you'd suspect. (Laughter from both of us). Ok... let's get serious. When did you start your interest in art? When I was in school I didn't know what I wanted to be or do. Then, there was a moment in art class. I remember it quite distinctly. There was a girl who wouldn't stay still, so they made her sit in the middle of the classroom. The teacher gave us paper and chalk to draw, and she was our model. I sat and drew her. It was amazing - this person just appeared on my paper, and it actually looked like her. I thought, â€œMaybe I can do thisâ€?.
" I'm a figurative artist who paints in oil."
What happened next? Well, I hadn't shown any ability before that, so my teacher took my drawing and hung it in the teacher's staff room. Soon after, other teachers started complimenting me in the corridors. I think they were as surprised as I was! That really empowered me. My art teacher suggested I take evening figure drawing classes at the local Art Gallery, so I did. I went with my best friend, Niki. We loved it. We still do. I wanted to ask you about your influences, Rodin and Michelangelo. How did you discover them? I had an uncle who bought me art books. I was fascinated by all the twisting and turning bodies in those artist's work. I loved figure sculpture and drew copies of their work. I worked in charcoal. It was so immediate and direct –– using a burnt piece of wood to
make marks on paper was just very simple and instinctual. I've learned that you were very influenced by where you're from in Wales. The darkness, the moods and an art teacher named Peter Pendergast, someone I consider to be Cezanne's crazy brother! Can you explain? (Laughter from Shelley again) Peter Prendergast was a teacher on my Foundation Course, which is a Pre-Bachelor’s Degree class many art students in Great Britain do. It's a yearlong course, where you learn different disciplines and decide what the focus of your Bachelor’s Degree will be. Peter and I locked horns quite a bit. He didn't like what I did and vice versa.
A little about us: We are a diverse group of artists working in different creative ways - painters, sculptors, environmental artists, dancers, singers, photographers graphic designers & filmmakers. We have some supporting members who aren’t artists but help inform our politics and public relations.
Our concerns are just as diverse:
Our current campaign is to raise awareness of Human Trafficking in South Lake Tahoe. You can learn more by visiting our Facebook Page and Instagram profile @TahoeActivistArtists, and our website TahoeActivistArtists.com. “Our aim is to empower our community to stand up, to use their voices and actions to create the change they want to see. It’s too easy to become despairing in times like these, to feel overwhelmed and helpless. If we stand together and support each other’s work, we can change the world.”
Human Rights, Animal Rights, Global Warming, the Environment, Politics, Feminism, Addiction and Education. However, the thing that we all have in common is a passion to do good in the world. We want to bring our creative responses to the challenges of our times, encouraging conversation and connection. We feel that political divisiveness, misinformation, fear and anger are tearing our world apart. We use our skills to raise awareness of issues we feel concerned about and have begun partnering with local nonprofits to provide visual impact to the amazing work they do for our community. We have already raised over $3000 for causes we care about, including the Latino Community Foundation who support undocumented victims of the California Wildfires. We are open to developing more collaborations with local organizations we feel connected to. We are operating with no funding and rely entirely on the passion and drive of the group to make these projects happen.
Really, it was only later on that I appreciated all the lessons he taught me and the influence that came with it. He was all about being intuitive and making marks directly from life. He actually provided me with quite an outlet for the teenage angst and frustration I was feeling at the time. It was therapeutic. I was also influenced by the Young British Artists (YBAs), especially Jenny Saville, at that time. You can see that in ‘Sujet’. It’s so raw. Let's switch gears and talk about Lake Tahoe. Frankly I'd love to live there, who wouldn't? So, how in the world did an artist from Wales end up in Tahoe? Tahoe and Wales have a lot of similarities. I lived for a while in Llanberis, at the foot of the highest mountain in England and Wales: Snowdon. There’s also iconic lakes (not as big as Lake Tahoe though!) and tons of rock climbing. It's really similar, with that whole mountain town vibe. I started out managing, and then owning my own little art gallery and open studio in Wales. I got grants and scholarships to support it, and all seemed to be going well. I kept building it up and up. I then refurbished the gallery, and made it look like a city gallery – all perfect white walls and beautiful lighting. It took two years to finish, and I was painting for a living the whole time. On the opening night after all that work, I looked around me with this sinking feeling, and thought, “Oh no… I don't want this.” I did so much work, I'd plowed so much energy into the gallery, I just couldn't do it anymore. I was burnt out. I created a platform for my work, and it was this beautiful thing you know? I was in partnership with great local businesses, arts councils and business connect agencies, but it just sucked all the life out of my work. And me. I limped along for a while longer. Then came my 30th birthday, and like a lot of people it triggered thoughtsof making big changes. So, I decided to pack it all in and go traveling. That's pretty bold of you, what came next? Well, I sold all my clothes, my possessions, everything and kept only what I could carry in a rucksack. I set off for Canada to visit a friend. I had no idea where I was going to end up. I
wanted my journey to completely open, so I just started moving. I ended up flying to British Columbia and bought a camper van. I just started traveling. After 3 months I met my future husband. We rock climbed and traveled together for some time. We started thinking about putting down roots somewhere. My Uncle lived in North Lake Tahoe at the time, so we went to visit him. I had this guitar I had to deliver to a friend from the road. He lived in South Lake Tahoe. When we got there, and looked around, I thought I like this, we could try living here! We got jobs, and we've been here ever since. Incredible. That is a story unto itself. Ok let's make an awkward segueway to the Tahoe activist group. How did that come together? The real catalyst was the Presidential Election. That's been a catalyst for a lot of things... (More laughter) I noticed that many creative people started expressing themselves through art, not only about the president, but what's happening in Syria, North Korea and Russia. It's like they're doubling down on their efforts. Between artists and musicians, it seems like we're all really switched on now. So after the election I wanted to do something. I've never been politically active at all. I'm completely new to this stuff. I started contacting all the creative people in Tahoe I knew and said let's form a group, let's have a meeting.. and so we did. The energy was fantastic, it was great. We shared ideas and passions. We decided to have regular meetings, have shows and campaign about issues we care about. There's no bureaucracy. We’re all about Conversation and Connection. We are all fueled by our passions. But...it's all about Activism!
You can see more of Shelley’s work at
PLASTIC OCEAN PROJECT
Jesse is an MFA student at Western Connecticut State University, currently working on his MFA thesis project “Me, Myself, and Movies” where he's re-imaginin g movie posters from movies that have an importance to him. "As a non-traditional student I came back to school at the age of 29 and haven’t stopped since. I work in oil paint, acrylics, and mixed media. My subjects are generally pop culture based so this Plastic Oceans project was a great experience for me to expand my horizons a bit. This project came to me through my professor Leslie Cober-Gentry. I worked with her throughout the conception of my idea to the execution; she helped guide me and encouraged me to really go out of my comfort zone."
IN THE NEXT ISSUE...
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