What do you use to make your art?
I use a Wacom Cintiq 27 Inch HD Touch, which connects to my MacBook. Essentially, it is like a giant iPad that mirrors my computer screen and lets me use a stylus to draw directly onto the screen! The program I use for my drawings is Adobe Photoshop CC. Occasionally, I will paint using my iPad Pro using the App Procreate!
How long have you been drawing?
I have been drawing since I could hold a crayon--about 2 years old. Many of my drawings were of cartoon characters or cats. I began digital art in 2010 with a mouse, but soon received a Wacom Bamboo Tablet, which lasted me a long time! I've been taking on private commissions since 2012.
Do you trace over photos of pets?
Nope! All of my art, even digital, is freehand. I may have several references for certain angles, or a specific photo I am painting from, but I do not trace. When I tell people I work in Photoshop, it can be confusing because the term "photoshop" has become synonymous with photo-manipulation or compositing. But in Photoshop, I start out with a blank canvas just like I would traditionally, and start sketching!
Do you have any pets?
Yes! I have 11 all together: 6 dogs, 4 cats, and a tortoise. For dogs I have a West Highland White Terrier "Mc-Bee", an Australian Shepherd x Golden Retriever Mix "ShotGun", 2 Siberian Huskies named "Beowulf" and "Shiloh", and a Chow Chow named "Peaches." I've purchased a 6th dog, but he isn't ready to go home yet! My kitties are: Shigwa, Clarence, Pumpkin, and a new exotic shorthair kitten named Peanut. And last but not least, a Red-footed Tortoise named "Chaos."
Who were/are your inspirations?
As a young child, I was inspired by the animated show "Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat." I loved many animal-related animated movies--The Aristocats, 101 Dalmations, Lady and the Tramp, and especially The Lion King, Balto, and Spirit. I also had a dog breed book that I got when I was 9, and I made it my goal to draw every breed listed (didn't get all of them, but I had a good start). Probably my biggest inspiration through middle school was the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. Finally, in my teens, I get inspired by my favorite artists online--two favorites that I have been following for awhile, are Tamberella and ShockTherapyStables, both on Deviantart.
What do you like to do outside of art?
Other than art, I love "Urban Mushing" with my Siberian Huskies, where they basically pull me around on a tricycle, as though the were pulling a sled! They started when they were 5 years old and picked it up very quickly. I also like to run and lift weights at the gym, and spend time with my family.
Do you still draw traditionally?
Yes! I love sketching, sculpting, and painting traditionally. Many of my larger commissions begin on paper, because I sometimes feel like I have more freedom and stronger sketches that way. I also have what is called "Visual Snow Syndrome", which means that I have static or "noise" all across my vision, even when I close my eyes. But it also makes me sensitive to light and gives me long after images (Palinopsia). Because of this, I like to take breaks from the screen when possible, and sketching traditionally is a great solution!
I want to try digital art, but where do I start?
Drawing digitally, with the right tools, can start to feel almost like drawing on paper. If you do not want to buy a big tablet right away, there are smaller, screenless tablets available for you--I started out with the Wacom Bamboo Fun/Create, as well as the Wacom Intuos. Even an older version of the tablet will work great, and you can then get a trial version of photoshop or find similar free programs. The main thing that makes it difficult at first, is all of the buttons and settings on Photoshop or similar. It feels like an uphill battle at first--you just want to complete your drawing the way you see it in your head, but cannot figure out how to execute it with all of the different functions available. But I'd encourage you to play around with the buttons, and find tutorials or ask other artists how to accomplish certain things. Once you get past the overwhelming tools and functions, it becomes muscle memory, and you can focus more on just drawing!