Wednesday, February 26, 2014

GSCE Q&A with Leilani Joy

Recently I've been asked to do a few of these GSCE interviews for students looking to pursue a career in the art field. I thought I'd share the Q&A from my recent interview!

1.What was your first successful artwork? 

I’m not totally sure about this one, I think it was a collection of pieces. Right after graduating from the AAU (Academy of Art University, San Francisco) in 2009, I was contacted by a woman on Myspace (haha!) with a gallery space who had seen some of my school work. She asked if I could do 12 pieces for her gallery and I went nuts painting day and night for a month to get them done. In that series I did, “Kimiko,” “Jaeda and Jai,” “Leslie & Loki,” and quite a few others, but those three became really popular and I still sell lots of prints of them today.

2.Have you tried writing, singing, acting, or any other type of art?

All of those actually! I love creative writing and performance art! If I hadn’t been an artist I would have pursued writing professionally. I used to write daily for many many years and wish I had more time to do it now. I hope one day to combine writing with my art perhaps in childern’s books or graphic novels. I also love dance and performance and I trained in ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance for about 10 years. In high school I became very involved in acting, drama and school plays. I performed in musicals as well, though singing definitely isn’t my strong suit- but I do love a game of Rockband or karaoke bars from time to time, haha!

3.To learn to draw, what are the top 3 resources/guides/classes that you suggest for beginners in drawing people? 

I wish I could narrow it down to “3” but unfortunately I think there are A LOT more than “3” resources you need to learn to draw the human figure. I’ve taken somewhere in the ballpark of 10+ classes on just drawing the human figure alone! Eeep! That’s a lot! And I still consider myself learning. To get started though I would suggest a basic “Analysis of Form” class- in which you basically learn how to interpret light and shadow and draw still life objects. Once you master some of those techniques you can use them on the human form. After that you would want to pursue a nude figure drawing class- possibly a series of them- it really takes a while to master some of the common forms and shapes of the human body. Once you have some familiarity with the nude figure you may want to pursue a clothed figure class and also a quick studies or gesture drawing class. The clothed figure classes will help you better combine your understanding of drapery and fabric and how it covers the human form beneath. A quick studies or gesture drawing class is great for learning to interpret more quickly and learn to draw more dynamic poses for your figures.

4. What is your favorite/ best art style?

 I would never say one style is “better” than another, but I do find myself personally attracted to art nouveau, art deco, pop surrealism, fashion illustration, and also abstract art. I would say my personal style is a hybrid of all of these.

5.What classes (outside of college) have you taken? Are they expensive?

 In high school I enrolled in the Saturday Art Experience offered at the AAU in San Francisco for high school students. It was an awesome way to try out the Art School experience and take really fun classes that aren't available at a regular high school. I took it both my junior and senior year. I took “Intro to 3D modeling” (at the time I believed I wanted to be a 3D animator-but changed my mind in college.) I also took “Comic Book and Graphic Novel Illustration” which I really loved. I suppose “expensive” is relative, and I wouldn’t say it was “cheap,” but I really had a worthwhile experience and it solidified my decision to go to the AAU for my formal training.

6. Why do you continue to do art?

 Because I MUST. Haha…. No, but seriously, I love it! It’s been part of my life since I was very small child and I can not imagine not doing art. Sure, I get burned out- and yes- doing art for a living is quite different than just doing it for fun, but there is still something so incredibly gratifying about creating something from my head that never existing in the world before- and that’s why I love what I do.

7. How do you define your style of art?

 I think I pretty much answered this already, but I usually like to describe my style as just that, “my style.”  My style is a collective of influences, styles, and personal experience that can only come from me. I do find it hard when I hear young artists say over and over “I can’t find my style” and they settle for emulating other artists. There is NO NEED for that! You don't need to “find” your style because just by being “you”- you already have your style! Yes, it takes lots of work and you should still seek art education, but you will find that you naturally gravitate toward a certain way of creating. You should embrace that which makes you unique, and never do things because you see other people doing them and finding success at it. True success only comes by being yourself.

8.Who supports you on a daily basis? When you're struggling?

My boyfriend and family are the best support system I could ask for! My parents have always supported me 110% and gone above and beyond to nurture me and encourage me to pursue my passion. They are still right by my side at every show and always a source of inspiration and an example of hard work paying off.  My boyfriend, Brian (whom I live with and is a fantastic artist himself) has also been an incredibly supportive partner and I’ve grown so much artistically since knowing him. He encourages me without criticizing but always offers insight and pushes me to improve my craft.

9.Was there ever a time when you felt art was not for you?

Haha! More times than I’d like to admit! But I don’t think it’s excusive to the art field. Choosing a career path in the arts is not an easy road and there will be struggles. My journey so far has been very organic and there have been many times where I had no idea if I was doing the right thing and I often worried that I was doomed to fail, but somewhere along the way I decided to just keep at it. I’ve been nearly a straight “A” student all my life and I learned early on that if you are willing to work hard enough you will succeed- regardless if you’re the fastest or most talented etc. With that said, pursuing an art career is not for everyone and there are certainly a ton of talented artists who prefer to do art as a hobby and not pursue it professionally or exclusively.  I think you just need to decide if you love it enough to brave the risk. In fine art and freelance it can often be feast or famine and you often may find yourself drawing for other people and not always enjoying it, but for me the rewards far out weigh the risks and cons. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else!