This interview appeared on ConstructedBy
Who are you and what do you do?
Why hello there! I am a freelance illustrator and concept artist! After graduating with a degree in Character Design, I began to focus on more illustrative works instead of game design, and started my own freelance studio: Micaela Dawn Art. Now I work as a graphic designer in the daytime and a freelance Illustrator at night. My main focus is creating bold, colorful works of art that dabble in a fantasy feel.
What is your favorite medium?
Digital, by far. When I was a teenager I was given a tablet for Christmas one year. I was resistant to trying it; so many people had told me that “digital art isn’t real art” and I worried that trying a new medium would mean I wasn’t a real artist. Fast forward ten years and I’ve never been happier that I took up that tablet pen and started on my digital art journey.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from books and writing. I have a soft spot in my heart for legends and lore, especially darker stories that would’ve scared me as a child. I also grew up in the mountains, which means I spent a lot of time outside with trees and animals. When I am struggling to find inspiration, all I need to do is look through photos of animals, skulls, or the mountains and I can find something to guide my work.
I also try to travel as much as I can and gather inspiration along the way. I recently spent 6 months traveling across Canada from coast to coast in a tent; taking photos and exploring as much local history as I could. You would be amazed at how inspiring it can be to sit in a tent in the middle of a torrential downpour, or be penniless somewhere on earth that you have never been. Scary, yes. But fear can prompt the most change in life and art.
What is your creative process?
I love fantastic literary worlds and songs, and I always put on music to fit the mood of the piece I am creating before I even start. It helps keep the mood consistent throughout my pieces and lets me lose myself in the art. After that, I start sketching out ideas. Most of the time I sketch in pencil in my sketchbook, but sometimes I go right to digital. Once I have a general idea, I look up a ton of reference photos so I have something to look to while I work.
Once I have everything collected, I start work. I rarely use line-art on my pieces at the beginning, and instead add in line after I’ve finished painting to enhance the look of the piece. Sometimes I’ll use the original sketch as an overlay to give the piece lots of movement. My final steps are adding more texture and tweaking all my colours. My final pieces never have the same colours I started with; so this is one of my favorite parts. You can see a gif of my process here.
Is there a specific theme/message/emotion you aim to evoke?
Every art piece is different. I think I would get bored if I tried to relay the same message or emotion in every piece I create. I try to come up with a mood and theme before I start, but then I just let the creativity flow. Sometimes art that I meant to be happy, turns dark partway through and is better for it. I would much rather follow my creative whims and see where I go than try and force myself into a box.
What motivates you to continue to create?
I see so many amazing art pieces I can’t help but be inspired to create some of my own. Whenever I have a story pop into my head, or a particular image stick in my mind, I realize that I’m the only one who can make it my own. I’m driven to put a piece of myself in all of my art, because really; it is the best way I have to express my emotions and tell a story. I want my life to have meaning, and I’ve found my passion in creative pursuits. So nothing could make me happier than to create.
When you encounter creative blocks, what do you do to overcome them?
I struggle a lot with my mental health; and this directly impacts my creativity. There are days when I can not bring myself to pick up my pen; and I look at my own art with a negative eye that I would never cast on another person. On those days, I have to remind myself that we are all learning and that my art, and myself, should not be looked at so harshly. Sometimes to overcome a creative block, I have to accept that there is nothing I can do aside from set down my creativity and let myself have a cup of tea. When the negative feeling persists, I create anyway; perhaps by choosing a new medium to try out, or finishing what I was working on so I can set it aside. Simply because you create something you dislike does not mean it was a waste of time; you learn more from your failures than you do your successes.
What are your thoughts on the future of art?
Very bright. I look forward to the advances that digital mediums will take, that will help artists create ever more fantastic things. Now that digital work is being more widely accepted as “real” art, people are beginning to see the value and appreciate that it takes the same passion and determination to create something digitally that it does traditionally. This goes for more than just fine-art, but also performing arts. I look forward to finding new inspiration from the changes that will come in the future. Bring it on.
What is something you have had to learn on your own that you would like to pass on to the next Creative?
Do not sell yourself short or listen to those people who tell you to quit. Especially if that voice is your own. You are brave and your passion in the art will take you places no other life-pursuit can. When those little voices in your head tell you, you are not good enough to do art, take those voices and mold them to your desire. “I am not good enough” will become “I want to learn. I want to do more. My creativity is infinite. Just watch me.”