Here is the lovely and short but very helpful interview:
- How did you branch out into making props?, was it a natural progression from making or is it something you have always done/wanted to do?
I got my BFA in painting at the University of Hawaii and during my last year in art school, I worked as an assistant art teacher with kindergarten through high school kids. After college I worked as an art teacher full-time at the Honolulu Academy of Arts as well as a few schools in Honolulu. When I decided to move to NYC, I was put in touch with a family friend who was a photographer. She recommended I consider prop /set styling as I had a fine arts background and was familiar with making still lifes. After assisting set stylists who knew I was an artist, I was soon commissioned to make custom surfaces, backdrops and props. I eventually became a stylist myself and focused on the craft styling as I would always prefer to make props rather than buy or rent them and arrange them. So, in short, I didn't even know prop styling was a job at first! But once I did, I saw evidence of it everywhere. I still make custom props but I have been focusing more on illustration and our Scout & Whistle business as of recent.
- Where do you find all the lovely finds you have in your studio and your work?
I LOVE going to thrift shops, antique shops and flea markets. I have found a lot of my treasures that way, as well as absorbing little things from my family's collections.
-Do you characters come from initial ideas and drawings or do they come from things you make/find?
Because I draw almost entirely animals, I use a lot of photo references from nature photography and then draw them in my own anthropomorphic way. I am definitely inspired by artists like Thornton Burgess (from the late 1800s-early 1900s). He had a really sweet drawing style, you should definitely check him out. As for which animals, I go through phases of what I like to draw. Birds, foxes, sloths, bison and raccoons have all been in that list. Not sure what is next!
-Do you have any advice you could offer to a student like myself going into the industry?
You probably hear it a lot but try to make as much work as you can. The more you make, the more you will cultivate your own style and feel proud of your portfolio. It's common to really like a certain artist and subconsciously start making work similar to theirs, but the more you work, the more your own voice comes through, and then you will stand out from the crowd. There are so many talented people in our industry, it's the dedication and perseverance that will get you work. You can make the most beautiful paintings but nobody is coming to find you, you need to get your work out into the world.
To see more of Vanessa Boer's beautiful work, please see her website http://vanessaboer.com/