Artist | Professional | Varied
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved drawing very much. She drew in the morning, she drew at night. She drew when she was sleeping once, and the walls were never the same after that. She drew with markers, she drew with crayons, she even drew with mashed potatoes on her plate.
Her father would watch her draw, and knew that something had to be done. The drawings were everywhere! In their clothes, on the walls, even on the neighbors dog! (Remember boys and girls, never let a child near a dog with paint). That kind man was at a loss, not wanting to stop his daughter's art, but wanting her to not draw on EVERYTHING. Finally at his wit's end, he brought his daughter to a lady who ran a very special art school. As he made his case to the Dean of the school the little girl got bored. A little too bored. She had smuggled a pen into the school and drew faces on her fingers while her dad was talking. The Dean looked over.. and started laughing to see the girl making a puppet show for herself with her fingers.
That's how it all began. At six years old I started school at the Visual Arts Institute in Utah. I learned fast, and took every single class I could. I became a jack of all trades, spending my winters obtaining a classical art's training in painting, sculpture, photography, really anything that they could teach. In the summer I would fly to California and learn from my father. He is a professional props master, set designer and costumer as well as a musician and author (so you can see where I got my jack of all trades habits from). From him I learned to do woodworking, build sets, do faux finishes on walls and build props for plays.
At sixteen I worked part time as a mural artist, painting the walls for video game stores around the Southern California area. With my father's help, I got my first published gig doing illustrations for a book called "Saturday Afternoon" which was published for people in the film and theater industry to get their storytelling out. It was a fantastic experience, getting to see actors I knew and respected explore a side of themselves that they had always dreamed about. It struck a chord with me and made me step out from doing part time art to going full time and putting everything I had into it.
When I moved to Utah in early 1998, I made friends with several incredible artists. One of them was Mike Dringenberg (of Sandman fame), who took me under his wing and taught me to use watercolors. I would spend nearly every weekend at his studio, learning the ins and outs of painting and how to do cover art for books. After his teachings, I moved on to working for Baen publishing and illustrated many short stories, including some for Garth Nix. I worked part time with Baen and a few small publishers, and part time selling my original work through conventions, but as time went by I began to get more acclaim and work for my original art than for my work through publishers. I realized that while working for others was great... working for myself and expressing myself would be even greater. So I took the first steps to starting a business with my best friend Sarah Seiter. We published a book titled "The Mushroom Peddler's Handbook" which was received wonderfully well and began to work on our first ball jointed dolls. Things were going great for us!
Unfortunately the wonderful times did not last. I became seriously ill before we could finish the first doll, and had to take a break from work for several years. After many hospital stays, medications and obtaining a service dog named Zeus, I returned to the art world. Fortunately, Sarah chose not to let the business fall apart in it's early stage, and went on to create The Mushroom Peddler. When I was well enough to return, she and I renewed our business relationship and Sarah began to re-educate me on everything I had forgotten about doll making while I reminded her of everything she had forgotten about print making and illustration. It's a match made in heaven.
These days I make wigs, sculpt, paint, do faceups, being a jack of all trades has it's advantages! In the fine art world I chose to step away from working with publishers and commissioners. Instead I turned my focus towards using my paintings to explore the thoughts and feelings that artists go through as well as explore the repercussions of my illness. From self doubt to anxiety attacks, I use the medium of fantasy art to try and find a way to speak out about mental illness and stress, and let people know that they are not alone in feeling this way. I also work full time on motivational blogs for fellow artists, exploring art as well as discussing the business of art for those who might have questions about it.