Sunday, June 10, 2012

Interview: Ellen Schebor

Ellen Schebor is a 27 year old illustrator from Miami, Florida. Unlike in most of my other artist interviews, I wasn't really hunting for art when I saw her work on Google - I was seeking the Gotye album cover. But when her portrait of Gotye and NZ's beloved Kimbra popped up in the results, all hope of beautifying my iTunes was lost and I had to know more about the artist. Having now looked at all of Ellen's work that I could find, I think she's fantastically talented, and I love the diversity of her subject matter. Her blog has a lot of great work in progress photos and draft sketches, which I always enjoy seeing - so those of you who are art enthusiasts may wish to add it to your reader. Best of all? She comes complete with an Etsy store which stocks prints of her work and the occasional greeting card.

How long have you been creating artwork for?
I'd like to think I grew up in a fairly creative environment. Both my parents are makers of things (my mother does a lot of crafting, my father does a lot of woodworking) so I grew up watching and engaged in their creative processes. I've been making marks since I could physically hold a crayon (the walls in our family room still bare the scars!) Thankfully I've progressed from the scribbling stage.

What artistic training do you have, and do you feel you have benefited most from formal lessons or your own experimentation in developing your style?
While I think each artist has to approach their education and experimentation individually (no one path works for everyone) my formal training was indispensable in giving me a feeling for the real art world. After graduating, (BFA, Michigan State University) the experimentation that followed was a lot more successful.

How many hours in an average week would you spend creating?
Art is very much a full time for me, I don't think I've ever had another role. Between my own personal work and my day job, I probably spend upwards of 70 hours a week involved in making.

What other work or hobbies are you involved with?
In addition to my personal work, I am also lead artist for ChickenBrick Studios where I work on game art, character development, the occasional concept piece, etc. While that work is very different from my personal work, I'd like to think the switch up keeps me from falling into that dreaded art rut. When I'm not involved in an artistic pursuit, I play a lot of videogames.

Do you remember the first piece of artwork that you sold?
A small watercolor, when I was about 12. A lovely neighbor paid me $5 and I was thrilled.

What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?
Thus far, probably being asked to show a set of illustrated posters for a charity auction back in the spring. I was so nervous that nothing would sell, as there were a ton of other items being auctioned off. In the end, thankfully everything sold and I got to talk to a lot of people about my art and make a ton of connections that would not have been possible.

What role has the internet played in your career so far?
Huge. Giant. I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am without the internet. From allowing me to collaborate with other artists instantly, discovering new ideas, researching... I don't think I'd even want to know where I'd be without the internet. It's scary.

How do you record ideas for new pieces?
I have several sketchbooks that I am terrible about using. I keep running lists, but sketches for new work are usually done on scraps.

Do you have any rituals associated with creating artwork?
Coffee and more coffee. And music without words. My current favorite is the soundtrack for the video game Skyrim. It's a beautiful arrangement on it's own, and I draw a lot of inspiration from the songs.

Have you learned any lessons from your experience with exhibiting?
Be prepared. I made the mistake of showing up to a few shows with only a handful of cards or postcards not expecting to hand them all out, only to end up empty-handed halfway through.

Is there a particular place where you would love to see your work exhibited?
There are a ton of incredible galleries here in Miami. A whole section called Wynwood houses loads of fantastic artists, studios and show spaces. I'd would die if I could show in any one of them.

How important to you is being immersed in an artistic community?
Changes everything. I can create on my own, but a community pushes me to try other solutions, start over, make something new. When I work alone I find I can fall into periods of “tunnel vision”, where I get far too focused on one thing. When I step outside my little art box and meet/work with others, the tunnel opens up and I am able to see possibilities that I couldn't before.

What inspires you?
Music and the outdoors inspire me. Great art and people. Anything that stirs an emotion, really. As for particular artists; growing up I adored Georgia O'Keefe. Currently; Marco Mazzoni, (his colored pencil work is mind blowing.) Or the tattoos of Peter Aurisch. Or Zak Smith.

What is your favourite colour to work with?
This changes frequently. I'll find myself attracted to one or two particular colors for awhile and play with them until I just can't anymore. Generally I tend to stay a bit more neutral. Currently I love earthy oranges and purples.

Do you experience periods of "artists block"?
I most certainly do. I can usually out-maneuver the oncoming block by starting a new list or new project but if I can't, I overcome the block by just pushing forward and making something. Anything. Throwing paint on a canvas, wire sculpting, finger painting... anything to keep me working. I try not to focus on success of the work when I'm in that stage, otherwise I might never get out.

What was your work like five years ago?
My work was timid and overly controlled. I'm still in a constant battle to relinquish that control and not get stuck in teeny details, but I'm getting better.

Do you have any goals for the next five years?
I'd like to do a few more group shows. Group shows are a great experience in artistic camaraderie, and I always learn something awesome. Other than that, as long as I am still making, still improving in 5 years I'll be happy.


Dori the Giant said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

HOLY amazing!!

Teddi said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

i always feel like i learn so much from these interviews! :)

Chrissy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Shut the front door, her work is amazing!!

jeremy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


Krystal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

what a great find! her work really is great, and i love that she did a manitee...i love those things :)

Krystal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

p.s. your blog is looking great :)