iarXiv: Cult Pens Artist of the Month - February 2014
Every month, we highlight the work of a different artist or illustrator through the title banner of our monthly newsletter - Penorama. If you don't already receive Penorama, you can subscribe here.
The artist of the month for February is iarXiv, who blogs regularly, including daily illustrations of cute piglets.
This is the banner iarXiv made for us:
Here's how it appeared in our newsletter:
Cult Pens: Tell us a bit more about yourself. iarXiv: Proud owner of a blog [no longer available] featuring daily illustrations of piglet adventures and a proud owner of three degrees in what's considered the hardest science. Married to the most wonderful husband in the world. Excited by the thought of spending an hour on the gym elliptical reading The Economist and listening to punk-rock. Best able to relax by reading a good Russian classic. Willing to try new things, as long as they fit into my daily routine.
Cult Pens: How would you describe your work? iarXiv: Varied, in technique and in subject matter. Hardly ever abstract. My digital creations, including the daily piglet adventures, are mostly full-colour paintings done with a Bamboo Stylus in Paper by 53 on my iPad mini. Using traditional media, such as oils, wooden pencils, markers, pencil and ink, I prefer to create a very concrete image for the viewer to explore, be it a face, a landscape or a city scape, a still life or an animal form. I often work from photographs, even when creating the fictional parallel universe for the Porcine Adventure.
Cult Pens: What got you into drawing/illustration? iarXiv: The need to to be creative in a way which was disjoint from my scientific background.
Cult Pens: If you weren't an illustrator, what was the back-up plan? iarXiv: That's a tough one. I'm not a professional illustrator — I'm a bit of a lot of things. My career path isn't set in stone, yet.
Cult Pens: What are your favourite subjects to draw? iarXiv: Piglets!
Cult Pens: Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from? iarXiv: My husband is a great source of inspiration — together we brainstorm ideas for the Porcine Adventures, then he writes and I illustrate. As for my other art, the source can be anything as 'simple' as a gesture I saw someone make on the street, or as 'complicated' as a film-length dream I had last night. I read a lot of books, and I visualise scenes, so often inspiration comes from stories.
Cult Pens: What are you currently working on? iarXiv: I'm illustrating a number of short stories that tie in with the Porcine Adventure, as well as doing a mini-series of charcoals of my home city. I'm also experimenting with marker-based illustrations inspired by Klee.
Cult Pens: How long does it normally take to complete a project? iarXiv: Depends on what it is. A daily piglet drawing can take from two hours for the simpler ones to six hours for the more complicated ones (such as Napigleon, see below). That's not counting the preparation time which includes researching what I will draw, testing out sketches, and visualising different angles from which to portray the scene. A digital design, like the Cult Pens Logo, is something I wouldn't do in one sitting — but rather over the course of days, modifying the sketches until I was happy to begin the final design. Traditional media is an altogether different kettle of fish; for example, it takes hours just to put down one layer of colour with wooden pencils, whereas it takes minutes to complete a first draft of a charcoal piece.
Cult Pens: What pen or pencil couldn't you live without? iarXiv: The Wacom Bamboo Stylus pen for iPad, mostly because I publish daily illustrations done in Paper for iPad, and the Stylus is crucial. After that I'd say the black Pilot G-Tec C4.
Cult Pens: Black & white or full colour? iarXiv: Both have their time and place. Digital porcine art: I prefer colour. Charcoal: I still prefer black on white paper, although I've also done some pieces with tinted charcoal on black paper. Oil paints: definitely colour, although I like to experiment with a limited palette. Wooden pencils: colour. Markers: it depends.
Cult Pens: Do you know when a work is finished or are you constantly tweaking? iarXiv: I'm a perfectionist, so the desire to tweak is huge. But, because I know this I've been paying a lot of attention to fine-tuning my 'feeling' for when an artwork is finished, or at least knowing when it's a good time to stop. I've definitely gotten much better at this.
Cult Pens: What work are you most proud of? iarXiv: Hello. Meet Napigleon. This was an illustration for Puggy the brown piglet's Pigletopedia entry for an event in the parallel porcine history of the world. You might notice a similarity to Jacques-Louis David's oil on canvas "Napoleon Crossing the Alps".
Cult Pens: What tips do you have for aspiring artists/illustrators? iarXiv: Let me pass on two pieces of advice that have stuck with me: 1. Don't be afraid to try different mediums until you find one that works well for you. 2. No topic, subject, or object is too 'silly', 'stupid', or 'overworked' for you to draw. If you feel inspired to give something a go, don't hesitate because it's been done before, because others have done it 'better', or because someone might accuse you of being unoriginal. The best way to learn is by copying the masters, while at the same time making sure that every new piece you do (that you're happy with) is a tiny bit better than your previous one. Eventually you'll find your own style and become a master in your own right.
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