Marie Provence had a nice interview with JAW Cooper for the Illustration 5 essay/presentation...If you haven't seen her work before, check it out!
On to the interview:
How do you feel that your personal history influences your work? Do you draw any inspiration from your travels, pets, music, etc
I might never have taken up drawing at all if it had not been for all the traveling that I did growing up. Jumping from country to country made it necessary to travel light and drawing is the perfect "on the go" activity. My mother is a biologist and illustrator and my father is a biologist and college professor so I'd say that they sparked my interest in both art and nature. I draw inspiration from a number of sources, the most significant of which are probably curio cabinets, fashion photography, and nipples. Who doesn't like nipples? Music is an important part of my process and I often create play-lists for specific projects to get me in the appropriate mood.
I love your beautiful sculptures, and I was particularly admiring the skill at which you were able to find a balance between realistic and fabricated qualities in your “Buddy” piece. I was wondering if you have ever studied taxidermy or surface design? How did you initially become interested in exploring three-dimensional art?
I've never studied taxidermy or surface design but I've always had a morbid fascination for it. I love to draw monsters and freaks and realizing one of my two dimensional designs in three dimensional reality was an extremely rewarding experience. I owe it all to an amazing class I had in college with the very talented Daniel Lim called “Experimental Illustration.” Daniel encouraged me to think big, literally and figuratively, and I ended up fabricating the first of my life-sized mutant bear rugs out of foam, faux fur, fabric, and taxidermy supplies which I named “Randal.” I sold Randal in a gallery show at La Luz de Jesus and made a second rug named “Buddy” which currently resides in my apartment... under my giant dog. I hope to make many more in the future!
Currently, who are the artists that you look to most for inspiration and what is it about these artists that you love? (Artists can be anyone, not just limited to illustrators)
Speaking generally I’d say that I have been influenced by the Japanese woodblock prints of Hokusai and Hiroshige, the oil paintings of Sargent and Leyendecker, and the zoological zeal of Haeckel and Audubon.
As an unknown, trying to establish a voice or direction for my art is a bit of a struggle. How did you come about your unique point of view in illustration? Did you stumble upon it, or was it something that came naturally to you from the beginning?
This is a difficult question that I seem to get a lot. Difficult, because it was never something I struggled with and I think that is because I was an avid keeper of sketchbooks. My junior and senior year of high school I completed one giant sketchbook a semester to accelerate my growth as an artist and to document my evolving interests and processes. My proficiency with drawing lept forward and in the process I naturally cultivated interests in the things that continue to influence my work today. The best advise I can give any artist struggling to find their voice is to keep a sketchbook and pack it full of sketches, lists, ideas, and images that inspire, and to write about it all in the margins so that you can trace your thought processes back in the future. You will naturally start to establish patterns and processes specific to your interests and way of working.
Can you share some of your promotional materials or techniques that you find work well when trying to reach a larger audience? Are you able to disclose some of your process in developing self-promotion ideas without giving away any secrets?
I promote primarily through my blog, though I do also have a facebook account, send out emails and mail promo cards. I’m working on a new set of promo cards right now, actually. In general I think it is important to have a strong web presence and to go out of your way to make connections with others in your field.
If you had one suggestion for an illustrator about to graduate from college, what would it be?
Look at as much illustration as possible, promote like crazy, make solid connections, and have fun creating work! After all, what’s the point of becoming an artist if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing?
Bonus fun question: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only take three things with you, what would they be?
A sketchbook, some pencils, and a cow... I love milk.