- This is the second of a three-part interview with artist Heather Hudson. The feature in its entirety can be seen throughout the month of March via the Featured Artist link.
© Heather Hudson
Please tell us a bit about your general work process.
I’ve been thinking about that a bit recently as I make the transition from mainly illustrating to mainly creating personal art. It can be challenging to maintain a consistent level of production without someone else’ deadline to galvanize me. For the last couple of years I’ve started out in January with a month-by-month list of my known commitments — events at which I want to release a new project, committed illustration due dates – and a list of personal dream projects. Then I look for the open spaces. If there’s a big block of time open, I can find a project that should take a similar period of time and slot it in. If there’s a small amount of time, I can work on something small. Or, if things get busy, I count backwards on the calendar from my due date and figure how many days I have, and whether that second project can, realistically, fit into the existing schedule. For a given value of realism, of course.
It’s not a perfect system yet, but it’s a start.
- © Heather Hudson
Transitioning from illustrator to artist means making the mental switch from working on someone else’s ideas, to working on my own. It comes with the responsibility to make them good ideas and to show them to people who will find them happy and useful. I came to this part of the art life later than some of my friends, so I figure there’s always something new to learn.
What about your work do you enjoy most? Dislike most?
I like drawing characters. I like it when a painting comes together, when the picture starts to become whole and complete. When a piece works, that’s wonderful. I like the sense of community I’m starting to find — both of creatives and of people who like the weird fantasy work that I do. I’m creating images of my own — I loved illustrating for games like Magic and D&D, but it’s nice to find that my own ideas can resonate with folks as well.
There are downsides to all good things — the online community can waste time or leave me envious of other artists’ skill, the personal images might not get attention like a piece with a popular brand subject, and I create pieces that don’t work sometimes. But the only thing I really regret is that time is always running out and that I don’t have all the time in the world left to keep trying new things.
What advice would you give to other artists or budding artists?
Draw for an hour a day. Or whatever time you have, if you can’t find an hour, but get used to doing it every day so it becomes comfortable and routine. After a year, look at all your work and see how far your drawing has come.
One other thing — don’t be afraid of being afraid. Most of the artists I’ve talked to worry that they aren’t good enough or that they won’t finish in time, but it’s okay to be afraid as long as you don’t let it stop you from going forward. After you’ve finished the tenth or the twentieth or the fiftieth painting, you learn to recognize that fear is just a thing that happens, and it hasn’t stopped you yet so it probably won’t stop you today.
- © Heather Hudson
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?
It would have been lovely to be less of a twit, but that’s just how youth is, I suppose. Let’s see — value beats hue and drawing beats value but value is still super important. Talk to more people about art, send out more postcards to art directors, get involved with more art communities, practice all the time, and never stop doing personal work; an artist who is doing too much commercial work to do personal stuff is going to be a sad artist when the fashion changes and the gigs dry up.
Where can we find your work?
My core website is www.studiowondercabinet.com, with my portfolio page and store and lots of pictures of monsters. When I’m being professional, I make general announcements as Heather Hudson on Facebook. As CandlemonkeyH, I make public announcements on Twitter — it’s a bit like standing on a tiny step ladder and yelling in public. On Instagram, Studiowondercabinet has evolved into a sketch journal and commentary on what I’m working on, at least if I can show it to the public. And heather-hudson-makes-art is on Tumblr, and I’m still figuring out what to do with it; it will probably wind up as the next incarnation of my blog over the next few months. The Studio Wondercabinet newsletter comes out periodically, and contains a little bit of everything in depth.