Today we’re joined by Beth. Beth is an amazingly talented visual artist whose work is incredibly gorgeous. She was the first person to contact me a while back in March I was looking to commission an artist for C2E2. I could not be happier with her interpretation of Blitz (the finished product had me a bit misty-eyed). Beth is a very versatile artist who does a bit of everything. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m pretty much a jack of all trades. While my primary focus is illustration (mostly of children’s books and games), I also do logo and graphic design, fine art, comics, writing, and I occasionally dabble in 3D arts like sculpture and mask-making.
What inspires you?
I have a couple favorite subjects and themes, particularly birds and space. But my biggest inspiration is probably stories; I really enjoy the challenge inherent in taking a description of a scene, character, or concept, and bringing that to life in visual form. A great illustration can really add a whole new dimension to a piece of writing (just think about how iconic illustrations like Where the Wild Things Are or the Harry Potter covers became) and that’s something I find very inspiring.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Pretty much. My mom is an artist, so I grew up watching her paint and following her around to various art fairs as a kid. I’d spend the whole weekend wandering around talking to the other artists there. My mom was also always exposing myself and my siblings to different media and techniques, letting us experiment. She used to sit and teach me the basics of composition, color, and other important aspects of art by pointing them out in her own paintings, which was incredibly helpful to my own understanding; I had internalized a lot of really important concepts long before I started formal training.
As far as my specific field, I’ve always had an interest in pairing art with storytelling. As a kid, I would spend hours making up stories and filling up notebooks as I drew out the scenes. It was a bit like a comic, although I never bothered to write in any of the dialogue; that was all in my head. I loved (and still love) animation, and initially considered becoming an animator, but I wasn’t really impressed by the idea of working for Disney with their formulaic storytelling (this was well before Dreamworks or Pixar formed) and the immense amount of work involved in animation was daunting. So I opted for illustration, which still has a big focus on storytelling and communication, but in a few dozen images instead of thousands.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I sign most of my pieces with my initials, “BZ.” However, I don’t really like the signature to be too visible, as I find it distracts from the piece, so it’s often blended into the background or somewhat hidden.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Find the thing that you like to draw and draw it. Yes, you need to learn the basic stuff like anatomy and value and everything, even if it feels boring sometimes. But don’t let your art teachers or anyone else pressure you into what you “should” be drawing. My art school was very fine art-focused, and I often felt pressured to draw more realistically. So I waffled back and forth and didn’t fully allow myself to push my own style until after I graduated. Guess what? The art that is getting me jobs now is the art I enjoy drawing, not the realistic pieces that my teachers wanted me to do.
Also: learn how to work digitally. You don’t have to create the art digitally, but you need to know how to do basic stuff like scanning or photographing it, cleaning up that file, and resizing it to display well on the web. The internet creates the possibility for your art to reach around the world, but you’ve got to get it presentable online first.
That said, don’t feel like you need a certain program or tool to make art. You can make art out of practically anything, so work with what you have and keep challenging yourself. You will get better.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not so much, although this is probably because I’m only out to a few close friends. This interview is kind of my debut. (Hi, Internet.) So we’ll see if I get any nasty comments. If I do — eh. I’ll probably just delete them. Life is too short to give that kind of negativity any response.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I think most people just don’t even really ever consider asexuality as a possibility that exists. I know I had no idea that this was something I could be. I found a brief reference to asexuality online, and felt incredibly relieved when I started reading about it. It was incredibly validating to know that other people felt the same way I did and I wasn’t just weird or sheltered because I wasn’t interested in sex.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
You’re not alone.
You don’t need to have a romantic or sexual relationship to have a fulfilling life.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Thank you so much, Beth, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.