Charla Pettingill [charlapettingill]
What is your specialty in illustration?
I typically work in watercolor with an ink outline, while doing digital compositing (adding textures, refining, etc). I would describe the subject matter of my work as being elegant and feminine.
What are your regular clients like? What do they expect from you?
The majority of my clients have been female book authors. I am often asked to create work that is more decorative than conceptual, although it seems I beginning to get more conceptual work.
Is there a web address where we can see some of your work?
Yes. I frequently update my illustration blog: http://charlapettingill.blogspot.com
Also, I plan to have www.charlapettingill.com up and running in the next two months.
Have you completed formal art studies, or are you self-taught?
I graduated with my B.F.A. in Communication Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, where I majored in Illustration. I am three weeks away from completing my M.A., as well.
Prior to college, I had very little formal art training. My high school's art program was extremely underfunded, and there were very few community art programs. It was my dream to go to art school, and I am so thankful for the experience. My professors at SCAD were amazing.
How did you get your first full assignment? What did it involve?
My first "real" assignment and first time getting published was in 2006 when author Valerie Perez commissioned me to do the illustrations for her then-upcoming book, "The Last Voyage of the Cosmic Muffin." I obtained the job through word-of-mouth. The assignment involved creating six black and white illustrations to illustrate her novel. I did the art using pen and ink wash. Valerie was wonderful to work with, and "The Last Voyage of the Cosmic Muffin" is a fun read!
What past or present day illustrators do you admire most?
I think the Golden Age of Illustration (early twentieth century) is a fun time to look back at; I particularly admire the "Red Rose Girls," particularly Jessie Wilcox Smith. I feel that these three artists helped to pave the way for feminine and family themes that are now so marketable in illustration.
The illustrator from the present that I most admire is Violet Lemay. Her work is beautiful and light-hearted, and Mrs. Lemay is an incredibly kind person.
How similar are your current drawings to those you did as a child?
It's funny, because my drawing process (in the most basic way) hasn't really changed much since childhood. I've always been a "line person," as my college professors referred to me. I am very line-oriented, and I tend to think of everything in terms of linework when drawing. Like most students, my style bounced around a lot while I was in college, but I returned to more or less the same sketching style I had in high school (using felt tip pens).
What was your favorite comic book as a child?
I wasn't really into comic books, but my best friend was. She always had a wide assortment of them, and sometimes I'd look at them. I was more interested in illustrated books, and I always checked out library books from my elementary school library based on what the illustrations looked like.
Do you have a particular style, or does it vary a lot?
Up until about a year and half ago, my style did vary a lot because I was torn between drawing in a more realistic manner and stylizing my subject matter. I feel like I have really developed a firm grasp on my style within the last year, and that my work now looks very consistent. I suppose that's a good place to be!
What is hardest to draw?
There's no one thing that I would consider to be impossible for me to draw, but I'm always baffled when I see the beautiful artwork done by concept artists and game designers. I don't think I would have the patience to do such intense rendering of huge, photorealistic environments as they do!
What type of music do you listen to while you work?
If I'm working at a fast pace to meet a deadline, I'll listen to rock (Circa Survive, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, etc). For a more steady pace, I'll listen to more atmospheric things like Morcheeba and Supreme Beings of Leisure.
Do you have a favorite work of art?
Yes, but it changes from time to time. Lately I've been a big fan of Andy Warhol's sketches (there's one in particular of a cat that I really like).
What do you do when a client simply says "I don't like it"?
I ask them what they feel isn't working, and then I immediately get to work on fixing it.
What new techniques have you been experimenting with lately?
I've been creating a lot of custom paintbrushes in Photoshop and Painter, and experimenting with their appearance. I've also been scanning a lot of different textures from various surfaces to collage into artwork.
What part of your work do you do on paper and what part digitally?
The sketch, the linework in ink, and often some watercolor are done traditionally. Painting, collaging textures, and further refinements are often done digitally.
What research do you do for your illustrations?
I'll brainstorm with quick little lists and doodles, and then look at images for reference when it comes to poses and accuracy of forms.
If the concept requires some reading into a subject, then I'll do that, as well.
Do you have colleagues with whom you share techniques, tricks, ideas, etc.?
Absolutely. Without revealing too much about my process, I often discuss my work with my fellow SCAD graduates, and fellow artists in Savannah that I meet.
Do you have any specific goals as an illustrator?
Eventually I'd like to become a full-time freelance artist.
What illustration web sites do you frequent?
....and the websites of illustrators I admire.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently most hard at work on a series of greeting cards that I'm creating. I'm very excited about them.
What advice do you have for someone who likes to draw and would like to make a living from it?
Practice, practice, practice. Dedication is key!
Savannah - USA