Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
Small towns mostly through Canada’s west coast were where I called home; we moved a lot! Growing up with a mom who crafted and created with us kids, I caught the art bug quite young.
Did you go to an art school or are you self-taught? How did you develop your skills?
Though art school is great experience for some I am from the ‘self taught’ side. I was quite driven and would practice lots referencing books by Preston Blair, finding artists I loved and studying how they drew. One of my favorite characters to re-create was Garfield. As I got older I’d search out artists who were better than me and ask them about their processes. Learn, practice, repeat.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
As a young kid I was encouraged to create…but my folks joined a fundamental religious faction after I turned 6 and my art was discouraged. Thankfully I’m quite stubborn and this drove me even more to go after what I wanted. Once I found others in my field I started to feel support and understanding. One person who has been my biggest supporter is my hubby who is in the same field; I am so grateful for him.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Comics like Garfield (which I was obsessed with). Loved watching Dark Winged Duck, Tail Spin, Bonkers, Animaniacs… any cartoon on cable at the time! Most Disney movies, not excluding the Brave Little Toaster…that one still makes me cry.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
As a kid I loved drawing animals and extreme action sports like skateboarding. That hasn’t changed too much but I’ve added in humans too. I love capturing moments, silly ones, daring ones, touching ones…drawing the viewer in and evoking an emotion is the best.
From the initial client idea to the final work: what goes through your mind when you are designing and what is the method you use when starting a project? Could you describe it?
After I’ve seen the clients brief with timelines, what’s expected and pay; usually it’s a set fee but it can sometimes be an hourly rate. Once I accept the job I’ll lock it in with a contract. (this is important) If I get a project through my agent they take care of the paperwork for me. Then I rough out sketches and send these to the client for approval. If revisions are needed I’ll go through a max of three rounds before I start to charge extra by the hour (this is all written in my contract). Once the sketches are approved I move to final art and submit these to the client. A few more revisions might be needed then payment is requested before I hand over final files.
What is your process in colouring your art and what type of tools and media do you use?
Photoshop is my program of choice 95% of the time along with a Cintiq, gives me the feel of drawing with traditional tools without the mess. Layers are my best friend, I’ll create my character with a simple shape and use masks for color and details.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The fun part is conjuring up characters and scenes.. but this is also the hardest part. Some days mental images and inspiration just flows and other days it’s like pulling teeth. If I have a mental block I take a break… a good long boarding sesh with music and fresh air usually does the trick.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work/collaborate with?
My day… get up early (6am), grab a coffee and stroll past the kitchen to my home studio. I’ll check/answer emails, see what’s on the agenda for the day and get started on projects. Half way through the day I’ll get an hour of yoga or hip hop in to break up the computer time then back at it. Finish off with some time outside, dinner then some chill time. I work with my hubby in our home studio since he also is in the same field. We work great together, it’s awesome to have a second opinion on things. Otherwise we’ll jump on Skype and chat with other illustrator friends who work from home. We are completely portable and will travel around the world with our work. As long as you hit your deadlines with quality work it’s all good!
Is there something that you have designed that you are most proud of?
I’m currently working on something that I’m super pumped to share….but can’t…NDA!! (keep posted)
What projects have you worked on in the past and what are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
In the past I’ve worked with companies in games creating characters and animating, some include: Fisher Price, Leap Frog, Disney, Pixar and Atomic Cartoons. Currently I’m illustrating for Penguin Random House, Highlights Magazine, Capstone Publishing, Chickadee Magazine, the Washington Post and some of my own creations that have been picked up.
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
Currently I love the projects I’m getting, they are all so random and each have their challenges that allow me to grow. The beauty of building a freelance career is you can eventually choose what you want to work on. If I could keep doing this and travel at the same time I’m one happy illustrator!
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
I’ve tried ‘em all, big companies, small companies, start-ups and freelance. I really recommend doing the same, you learn so much and find where you really want to be. For me it’s freelance, I love making my own hours. When I’m busy I work, when there is a slow period I take some time to develop my own stuff.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
Walk away for an hour and do something else; you can’t force creativity. By going into a different space and headspace for a bit you can give you mind time to breath. Otherwise you’ll spend that hour hitting your head against the wall and get nothing done in the process. I love observing real life for inspiration…you get to see and experience a moment to capture. This is why I love to travel, you see and experience soooo much to draw from!
Concept art, animation, illustration, comics, there are lots of choices. When you’re young, sometimes you know only one thing: you love to draw. What should a young artist take into consideration to make the right decision when choosing an artistic path?
Try all the things! You never know what area of art you really want to unless you try. Also remember you can change what area of art you’re in too. I’ve gone from animation to character design to illustration. At this point in my career I’m loving the illustration space and plan to stay here for a while.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
Yes, it’s good to nurture a consistent style. It may shift and grow with you as you get better and refine over the years but it’s very wise to do.
What’s your point of view about the industry today: what are the expectation for someone who wants to make a living with an artistic career?
It is what you make of it. There are a lot of artists out there but there also is a lot of work. In my experience artists are super supportive of each other. If you need tips, suggestions, or even looking for work the community has been amazing. If you are open to grow, work hard, be present on social media, always practice, don’t have an ego and ‘pay it forward’ when an aspiring artist asks you for help then many great projects will come your way.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Love Emily Hughes, Cory Loftis, Scott Campbell.
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
I too share this soft spot!
Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
I see this as a big pro, now your work can get out to people who didn’t even know you existed. This is a huge advantage over how things used to be. With sites like Etsy, Patreon, and all the print on demand artists have a better chance at making a living creating their own art.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can find me at all these places: My website ( jessvoni.com ), Twitter ( twitter.com/jessvoni ), Instagram ( instagram.com/jessvoni ), Tumblr blog ( jessvoni.tumblr.com ) LinkedIn ( linkedin.com/in/jessika-von-innerebner ) And you can purchase my latest sketch book or prints here on Etsy ( etsy.com/ca/shop/Jessikavon ) Thanks so much!
Thank you Jessika :)