Could you introduce yourself?
I'm Chelsea! I'm a 22 year old illustrator born n' raised in Cleveland. I moved to DC this summer to start a job at NPR where I've stayed since! I spend a lot of my time looking at pictures of dogs and accidentally re-telling stories.
What’s your life philosophy? How do you try to apply that to your work?
I'm terrible with philosophies but I'd say know what you're good at and make it work for you. I don't feel like I'm the *best* artist ever BUT I'm good at working hard, generating ideas quickly, and working with others which makes me a good illustrator!
Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart in the art industry?
How many pictures of dogs wearing glasses I'm able to slip into my pieces.
I'm not able to be objective about my own art really, but I think in a lot of ways I'm not doing anything that different from my peers and we're all learning from each other as we go. My hand and the experiences i'm drawing from and the stuff I prioritize makes my art what it is, just as much as it sets me apart from any other human.
How would you describe your art style? Do you feel like it reflects you and your personal style?
My art style is super approachable and that frustrates me sometimes. I want to have cool, graphic, edgy art dang it!!! I have the kind of art that's easy to digest and makes sense to both your teen sister and also your mom.
I think my personality couldn't be described in any better way. I'm approachable but sometimes I want to be edgy and prickly (though I don't do it well haha)
As for my personal style, I've been told that my closet looks like six different people styled it which also sort of lends itself to my art style. I want to be adaptable and I never settle too strongly into one style.
We love all the bright colors you use! Could you tell us your thoughts when it comes to color theory?
Ha! I wish I had a good answer to that. I have a running pinterest board of photos and art and a bunch of stuff that uses color well and I tend to appropriate that to fit my needs and build on it. Almost every time I start an illustration, though, I start with a cream colored background and a fairly transparent blue photoshop brush. It helps to work on a background that isn't stark white when color picking. When I'm doing portraits I start on olive green (like the old master painters but with 100% more photoshop)
Who are the individuals in your work? Friends, family, strangers?
I tend to throw my boyfriend Zak into the backs of compositions for fun sometimes. he always catches me though. really everyone is just a combination of something i've made up in my head and pictures of interesting looking people I use and emulate.
What are a few tips for other artists that might be reading this, that you could give when it comes to creating?
I only made work i hated until immediately after graduating. Developing a style and voice takes awhile and it'll take a lot longer if you don't loosen up. Learn the basics before anything else because no one is too good for an anatomy lesson or understanding a basic light source, perspective etc. it makes your life so much easier. Other than that, always use references (they make your stuff look a lot more believable) and be nice to people.
in business (which a lot of art is) don't be a doormat but don't put your guard up so fast that you assume everyone is out to get you. be courteous, respect yourself, and be the most professional one in the room.
Do you have any rituals you do before you start your creative process for a new project, to get your mind and energy in the right place?
Yes! tons actually though I've never thought about it until now. I always make a mood board before staring new stuff. Before I start a new piece I have to draw a small, funny doodle to clear my palette so to speak. Just so I'm not going from one big idea right into the next. I have to be comfortable (at work i take my shoes off and sit cross legged) and I'm always watching TV (most recently either Attack on Titan or The OC) or listening to podcasts (why oh why and risk! have been my favorites). If I'm really stuck, I'll start listening to the band Pinegrove. For some reason they calm me down enough to get me into the groove. I'll just listen to their audiotree sessions on repeat.
Lastly I'm a huuuuuuuuuuuge snacker. my coworkers always make fun of me because by the end of the work day I'll have amassed piles and piles of food remnants and wrappers around my desk haha.
Coffee or tea?
Why choose?? I start every morning with a coffee but I like to treat myself to some early grey whenever I'm in the mood.
What’s a typical day for you?
That depends on whether or not I'm going into the office. My work schedule is really free-form at NPR. I'm a part-time worker but that basically just means I can take off days to whittle away at my freelance every now and again. On work days (~4 days a week) I get into work at about 9:30 (in various stages of disarray because I'm not a morning person), grab a free coffee from the cafeteria, and check my emails until 10 when we have a 15 minute group meeting called SCRUM. Usually someone on the team will bring in Pocky and we'll all gather around our table and ogle at the snacks. I spend the rest of my day fielding illustration requests from the newsroom and working with a few awesome ladies on my team to get everyones needs met. Really I just sit at my desk snacking and drawing with my headphones in until I look up and its 6:30. I get home around seven, play a board game, do some freelance, lose at mario kart, or just straight up go to bed.
Freelance days are a little more open ended. Usually I get up around 10, slowly eat a bagel while watching anime, then make my way to a coffee shop where I'll park myself until 8pm. Then I usually come home and do any number of the aforementioned "fun" things until I get sleepy around 11.
What are some of your goals for 2017?
Last year I wanted to be more organized. More specifically I wanted to answer my emails when I get them instead of nervously putting off replying. I'm still working on that but I'm getting a lot better. This year, I'm really focused on deadlines and productivity. I'm so much less stressed out when I keep myself organized (even though it doesn't come naturally to me.)
also I want to get a dog. but that probably wont happen this year.
What makes you happy?
Beating zak at mario kart
the lyric video for Maroon 5's song Payphone (its really shocking.........)
images of Bo Obama's weird cylindrical dog feet
going to shows where everyone knows all the words to all the songs
Any closing comments?
Yeah! I'm sort of terrible at answering questions but anyone can contact me at any time if they just want to talk about fumbling through professional life, how cool dogs are, the trials and tribulations of being a woman in the working world, or your favorite band. I promise I don't usually bite (though i'm not microwave safe or recommended for children under 3)