Happy illustrator’s month and Wednesday greetings to everyone! Today, we have Christina Kaputsos in our cyber cafe.
Christina is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in Illustration. Christina works in a wide array of mediums, from traditional illustration (A blend of acrylic, cut paper and digital) to puppetry and 100% paper sculpture. With a love of pattern and folktales, much of her inspiration is gathered from cultures across the globe.
And now that Christina is cozy in the cafe with her favorite beverage, Green Tea Frappuccino, extra whip cream- (she works better when it has lots of whip in it)
And her favorite snack, Fig Newtons
First off, when did you decide to be an illustrator?
-As soon as I knew how to hold a pencil. I grew up wanting to make things. I still have that genuine drive to create. The realm of illustration allows me to pursue all my favorite creative mediums – acrylic, digital, watercolor, cut paper. Whether I am designing 3D or 2D -a toy, paper sculpture or an illustration, my favorite part about the whole process is being able to share with others the story that the image carries. Stories – good conversations, are what connect us to one another, they are what we pass on, what we leave behind, what inspires us, what scares us and what causes us to move. To be able to share such a gift is a true privilege and that is why I can’t see myself doing anything else.
How long did your path to your first sale take, and what were your biggest hurdles?
-First it depends on what you mean by sale. If someone commissions me to do a piece or invites me judge a show or support an event through my work – I consider that a sale and just as vital for my art career as a book deal. Not to say that I don’t want both though! I also think that you define what success is for you and you define the terms of what makes you a successful illustrator. It might be to have books published or show in galleries, it might be to illustrate for a brand name, create your own products or simply teach and inspire others through your work and love of narrative.
In any case, you first have to “sell” you to your self. In other words, if you wouldn’t want to buy your work- why should anyone else? You have to be a firm believer in what you create, even when you are working through a project you aren’t sure of or dislike. You also have to be all right with trying out what works and doesn’t work for you. Another illustrator’s mode of working might not be yours. I want to make work with my hands, no one else’s, and I do not want to copy a style I know is successful for another artist. You need to have faith in your own finger print.
Your first “sale” happens only if you put your self out there, make good work and push your creative boundaries when it comes to marketing and if what you are making is marketable. What is your niche? I always ask myself why do I want to continue to do what I do? Then I ask how can I share what I want to share with the world? And then I brain storm….
I am constantly working on projects, contract or personal. The road of an illustrator or any artist is indeed a never ending, love/hate (as you are your worst critic), constantly evolving journey. The first hurdle is having the courage enough to share your work with the world in the first place, developing that thick skin and having faith in sticking to your guns… oh and patience… lots of patience. You have to get creative, think outside the cube and, dare I say it, be a bit risky to get what you want. If you don’t advocate for yourself first, no one will do it for you. Wanting something is not enough, you have to have the ability to have it.
Since hindsight is 20/20, what advice for beginners do you wish you would’ve followed?
Well, I won’t lie I am still a tad wet behind the ears myself. I graduated in 2010. However, I been running my studio for three years and have taught a variety of creative -based courses from child, teen, adult and college. I have been a guest speaker, commissioned artist and creative consultant. I recently spoke at a college to a brand new class of freshman art students. This is what I told them, “Research more, don’t be afraid to send your work out, have conviction in your work and have a good group of peers you can bounce ideas off of but take every conversation with a grain of salt.” There’s a quote I am in love with “Every NO will bring you closer to a YES.” And one YES is all you need to get the ball rolling.
What’s your favorite medium?
I use different mediums for different projects. I enjoy being a Renaissance Woman. Every medium has it’s strengths and weaknesses, knowing when to use what when is half the fun. Though I will say digital, acrylic and cut paper are up at the top of my list.
Where’s your favorite place to work?
At my desk, next to my dog, Porkchop.
Which illustrators inspire you?
Arthur Rackman, Jen Wang, Edmund Dulac, Brandon Boyd, Maurice Sendak and Hindu Art.
What was your favorite book as a child?
How do you describe your style and has it changed throughout your career?
I think in terms of style, knowing when enough is enough or when less is more.
How were you inspired to illustrate your current or upcoming release?
Patterns & bold colors.
What was one of your favorite assignments?
Don’t have one, each has been unique.
Time for the lightning round!
Do you . . .
Work from photos or imagination?
Both. Being able to draw what you envision is important. If photo references help- use them!
Talk about works-in-progress, or keep it zipped?
I have been commissioned to work on a book series. Gearing up to offer my own products in 2011. Still working on other commissions and lecturing.
Prefer sketching or final art?
That’s like asking if I like cookies or milk better. You need both to create the full experience.
Dread marketing/blogging or love it?
Time consuming, but necessary.
Enjoy brainstorming more or researching?
Again, I need both. I enjoy both.
Read Kindle or traditional books?
I’m sorry but there is nothing like feeling paper between your fingers and the smell of binding. A traditional book feels different in your arms you know, a life of it’s own. Kindles don’t have souls like books do- ha.
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work
Music to listen to while drawing?
Of course- Frank Sinatra, Bossa Nova, Jazz, World Music & Incubus.
In large part it depends on the project, I might listen to certain type of music in order to feel the mood of the scenario I’m working on.
Traditional media or digital?
Depends on the project. But I do enjoy digital.
Pair of shoes?
Socks or I like knee high boots.
Watching 90’s Nick Junior shows on You-Tube.
Line from a movie?
“You have been weighed, you have been measured and you have been found wanting. Welcome to the new world.” -A Knights Tale
Thanks so much for coming by, Christina! Best of luck with your art. Happy sketching, painting, writing and revising everyone:)