Sue Blanchard is the epitome of perfectly imperfect, her creativity and determination towards her art has made her reach great heights. Her philosophy is to never chase a popular trend and change your own style for it. She even persuades young artists in finding their style and thinking out of the box.
An illustrator based in Los Angeles, Sue Blanchard is a lover of handmade and imperfect artworks. She draws from her own experiences and memories and tries to feel a connection with the illustrations. She even ventured to follow her passions other than art but nothing seemed to satisfy this brilliant artist’s creative hunger but illustrating.
How would you describe your journey as an artist?
Sue: Squirrely, but also oddly consistent. I’ve always been an artist but I followed other passions that satisfied me for a while until they didn’t.
I then turned back to making art and reached a new level of fulfilment that may not have been possible had I not taken the earlier detours. Who knows? That’s the great thing about life!
Tell us about your love for hand-made illustrations.
Sue: While I do love a sharp, clean graphic logo or illustration, I feel more connection to an illustration that shows the artist’s hand. I don’t need to see perfect perspective or highly realistic rendering. I’d much rather see an interesting line or brushwork and see something fresh and maybe a little bit janky.
Who or what inspires you the most while making illustrations?
Sue: Memories, stories told by my family and friends, broken human nature, animals, nature and travel all fuel my art. I’m not interested in still life or drawing what I see. I like drawing what I hear and think and letting my mind wander and putting whatever pops in it down on paper.
Tell us about the Angry Birds prop design. What does it mean and how did you create it?
Sue: Props design on an animated film means you’re designing props which are objects that a character might use or set dressing for an environment. You look at the story reels to understand how the prop will be used and then start sketching, all the while keeping in line with the film’s design language. Once sketches are approved, you paint it up and send it off to be built! I kind of fell into the prop designer position on Angry Birds and am forever grateful for it. Till then I had bounced around as a freelancer working out of my home studio exclusively and this was my first opportunity to work in-house as part of a design team. I learned so much interacting every day with other artists!
Which types of illustrations do you enjoy creating the most?
Sue: Drawing in my sketchbook with a simple black ink pen brings me the most joy. I’m mobile, it doesn’t require anything other than me and my imagination. When I sit down to a blank page, I have no idea where I’ll go and usually 3 or 4 pages later I look back and marvel at where my mind led my hand.
How does your design process vary depending upon the variety of illustrations and styles?
Sue: If time allows, I always like to start sketching/designing with a paper and pen/pencil. There’s something about it that feels both freeing and rooted for me to start that way. Sometimes it makes more sense to start digitally and even drawing traditionally, I’ll jump into photoshop fairly quickly to finish the sketch and move on to the next phase. Deadlines rarely allow me to work completely traditionally but I try to make sure I’m still drawing/painting and getting messy on a semi-regular basis.
How do you inculcate stories and memories into your artwork?
Sue: It’s really about allowing myself the time to sit still and let my mind wander. Or having the discipline to stop whatever I’m doing when a thought/memory/idea pops into my head and taking that moment to draw. When I tell myself I don’t have time to do either, I end up a dry well and it doesn’t feel good at all. Unfortunately, I keep learning this the hard way!
According to you what are the key features of a perfect client?
Sue: I love a client who knows my work and understands what I do. It’s super fun when I’m hired not only for my style but also for my imagination. It’s painful when you’re hired to create something that is not what you like to do and I’ve often turned those jobs down. I know it’s not going to bring me joy and ultimately, the client won’t be happy either. Life is too short to be a suffering artist!
Do you think art has the capability to impact society?
Sue: Totally, I think it impacts society every day! And yet, ironically, I think society does not appreciate the arts as a whole or encourage art as a pursuit.
Any words of advice for young artists in this field?
Sue: The most valuable lesson I was taught was to learn who you are as an artist is to trust your own style, your voice and do not aspire to be otherwise. It’s tempting to chase a popular trend or see an artist getting great success and think if you just emulate that style or artist, you will also find success. You might find financial success but you may never find your own voice and style.
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