Monday, April 16, 2012
The Writer's Block Interviews: Stephanie Rodriguez
1) Tell us a bit about who you are, and where you live and work.
My name is Stephanie Rodriguez and I am a freelance illustrator and painter living in Miami, FL. I work in my home studio with my three crazy dogs Gaspard, Leo and Chi-Chi. I have had the opportunity to work with over one hundred books and magazines from all over the world in many different genres from horror to children’s art. Currently, I am focusing on more projects for the children's book field.
2) Describe your journey to becoming an illustrator.
Ever since I was a little girl growing up in Queens, NY, I would spend hours drawing my favorite characters from the books that I read. With the encouragement of my mom, I began to pursue my career in art when accepted into New York City's Fiorello La Guardia high school of art and performing arts. It was here that I decided to become an illustrator. I went on to study illustration at FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) where I began to develop a technique influenced by children’s book art with the inspiration of artists Alice and Martin Provensen, Arthur Rackham and Howard Pyle. When I graduated with my BFA in Illustration in 2002, I moved to Miami, FL with my husband. It was then that I began my freelance career. I started illustrating for all kinds of magazines and book companies.
3) Describe your body of work. Which have been some of your most meaningful projects?
Since I started illustrating, I have had the opportunity to create many different kinds of illustrations using different mediums and techniques including pen and ink, oil paint, watercolor and color pencil. I think the most memorable projects have been the ones for the children’s book market because I enjoy creating whimsical art for kids; especially if it has a musical theme or historical reference. One of my favorite projects was for Music K-8, a magazine for elementary music teachers. The assignment was to draw a group of “Jazz” cats jamming together.
4) Tell us about your current projects.
Currently, I am working on a few different projects. Some are assignments and others are projects I am working on for my portfolio. I just completed a cover illustration for Plank Road Publishing's Halloween song collection called "MWA HA HA And Other Monstrous Favorites". The assignment was to draw a group of classic monsters singing together in a chorus. It was a lot of fun for me to draw because I had the chance to create a whimsical Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolfboy. The other project was fora horror/sci-fi magazine called Revelation. The assignment was to illustrate five black and white interior illustrations as well as a cover, which I illustrated in pen and ink. I am also working on a new series of pen and inks that are illustrations from my favorite classic novels such as Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein. I like to work on a variety of different projects simultaneously.
5) Who are your favorite illustrators?
I enjoy the classic illustrations of Howard Pyle and Arthur Rackham.
6) How does an illustrator go about getting work? What methods have worked best for you?
There are a various ways that illustrators go about getting work. The ones that have worked the best for me have been a combination of mailing out portfolios as well as emailing. Another technique that works well is follow-up postcards after the initial mailing to remind the art directors about your work. You have to be persistent and professional.
7) Where do you find inspiration? Describe your creative process.
I find much of my inspiration from music and books. I also collect a lot of reference which consists mainly of photos of people that inspire me like writer Oscar Wilde and musicians Chet Baker and Yngwie Malmsteen.
I like to play some music while I start sketching out ideas and this really helps me to get my creative juices flowing. I create many rough sketches before the final drawing on tracing paper. I like to work out the drawing until I am satisfied with it. The drawing to me is the most important part of the process.
8) What is your definition of success?
I think success isn't about being famous but truly loving what you do and knowing that people appreciate the work you do.
9) What advice would you offer to aspiring illustrators?
The illustration market is rough, you have to be knowledgeable and professional. You need to research the market you are interested in working for thoroughly and create a portfolio that best represents you. Most of all be true to yourself and your work will speak for you.
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