Artist Interview: Jerrod Maruyama

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Jerrod Marayuma is a freelance illustrator and creator of kawaii pushing the boundaries of cuteness. He’s a longtime favorite of Supahcute and one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. I’m proud to feature Jerrod in my latest Supahcute Artist Interview.

How do you manage the balance between freelance work and personal work?

Freelance work is my day job. That’s my bread and butter and I devote at least eight hours a day to that work. The evenings are usually reserved for personal projects and art shows. As I’ve become busier with just about everything I’ve found it helpful to schedule time to work on specific projects. I have to break down work into manageable sections to accomplish everything on time. Of course, this is a fluid project. Things change. Other projects pop up. Life interrupts. But in general, I have to schedule everything out as much as I can. Long gone are the days of finishing one project before starting another – which is what I prefer. But I’m not complaining.

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I’m always impressed with how you’re always on top of things. What’s the secret to your success?

In all honesty, I love what I do and I feel extremely lucky to be creating for a living. That motivates me to work hard. Over time, you start to see where your time and effort is best spent. Promoting work, creating new work, staying inspired – this is my job. It’s not optional. When you’re self-employed, there really are no vacations. If I’m not working, I’m not getting paid. I find it very easy to stay motivated because if I coast, the repercussions are felt instantly. Again, I’m not complaining. I enjoy the work immensely –not all of it of course. But drawing and creating are what I live for. The other stuff – paperwork, taxes, schedules, etc – are just part of the job. To me, that stuff is just common sense. Hit your deadlines. Pay your bills. Promote your work. Those are easy because there’s nothing to think about. It’s very clear what needs to be done. They’re all connected.

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What upcoming project are you excited about right now? Or is it super-secret?

I will tell you and then I will have to kill you. I’m involved in a lot of long term projects at the moment and that’s great. Been working with Disney Baby on a line of books and that’s been ongoing for a few years now. I’m working on new things with WonderGround Gallery all the time. I’ve got a few other projects that I’m excited about but will wait to say anything more. It’s not that I’m secretive – it’s that I’m completely superstitious. I feel like talking too much about a project before it’s out there will jinx the process. I’d much rather promote the finished piece than explain why it didn’t happen for whatever reason.

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What is the biggest lesson that 2016 has taught you?

That’s a tough question. The older I get, the more I see that opportunity is out there. You have to grab it. You can’t wait for the Universe to tell you “Now is the time”. That’s never going to happen. I don’t just mean getting started in a career. I think it’s true for every step of your career. How and when you take your career to the next level is up to you. I think we are often sidetracked by the fear of the unknown. We’re all very good at creating elaborate excuses for not doing something. We’re also very good at procrastinating. We tell ourselves we have to research this first or think about this or that. In reality, you have to just jump in. You have to do it. I’m not advocating a reckless approach. You still have to be smart and work hard. But there’s a big difference between talking about doing something and actually doing it. There will of course be challenges and failure. But no amount of planning can side step that. It’s part of the process. I struggle with this every day but once you start seeing the benefits of being out there and doing what you love, the rewards outweigh the risks. I can’t say there was something specific that happened in 2016 to make me think this way but I definitely thought a lot about this in the past 12 months or so.

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You can only ride one Disney ride for the rest of your life. Which one is it?

It’s a small world. Yep, I can ride that thing over and over and never get bored or even tire of the song. I love the look and feel. There’s so much to see. It beautifully represents the work of Mary Blair in a way few artists are represented in that park. There might be more exciting rides for sure but you can’t say any of them have more going on than in it’s a small world.

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Visit Jerrod’s website to see more of his work.

Artist Interview: Katharina Stenbeck

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Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Katharina Stenbeck grew up with an early interest in experimental theatre. She studied at acting conservatories in Stockholm and New York City, subsequently working as an actress, before a chance encounter plunged her into the world of music. Fronting a Brooklyn-based electronic band for several years, she found a platform where she could marry many of her artistic means of expression into one and the same project. Katharina relocated from New York to Los Angeles in 2015. In LA, she began to actively explore her painting, primarily working in acrylic on canvas.

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Congrats on being part of the recent LA Art Show! Can you tell me a little about the experience?

Thank you. Like many creatives, I hardly ever stop to take a second to appreciate progress I’m making on my artistic journey. Accomplishments are often achieved on a smaller scale and they blend together with the day-to-day hustle. Having a piece in the LA Art Show this year was one of those moments when I wanted to make sure to acknowledge that I’d achieved a goal I’d set for myself. I was at the LA Art show 2016 and thought “I’d love to have a piece here…”, and this year, I did.

As a multidisciplinary artist, how do you balance the different types of projects you’re working? Do you like to focus on one medium at a time or do you like to switch things up?

My background is in theatre and that informs my other artforms in many ways. My work in music always incorporates theatricality in some way, whether it’s in my lyrics, my song arrangements or my live performances. My visual art can get woven into my other artforms as well, with my paintings and sculptural works often popping up in selfmade music videos and/or as wearable creations for use on stage. In this sense, I don’t necessarily feel that I have to focus on a single artform at a time, but I do try to focus on a single project at a time. Usually, my projects incorporate many of my artforms all under one umbrella. For example, for a music video, I would have written and recorded the music, most likely made the clothes and props for the shoot and would also be the one performing in it.

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What’s new on the horizon for 2017?

I do try to stay busy and always prefer to keep momentum going, especially if I’m working on a particular project and know the steps I need to take to complete it. That sense of “completion” can mean many things, it can come in the form of laying the final brush strokes on a painting, adding the last dabs of glue to a papier-mâché sculpture, mastering a finished song or performing something that’s been in rehearsal for several months. This year, I’ll be launching my first solo project in music after many years in a band, and I’m really looking forward to sharing the songs. I’m aiming to have the first single and accompanying music video out this spring.

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I’ve been enjoying your Creamy Humans and Animal Hybrids series. Do you plan to continue any of the series? What new series will you be working on?

Thank you. Their origin stories are interesting to me, I had been painting animals for quite some time and then found myself drawn to the idea of painting animal heads with human bodies. That was my first step toward painting humans. After having painted several animal human hybrid pieces, I felt it was time to explore what a “normal” human might look like, with his/her own head attached to the body. It felt scary at first, I wasn’t sure what my own artistic interpretation of a face would look like. A face can be rather intimidating to take on as an artist. Someone once said “The face is the mirror of the mind”, and there’s a lot of truth in that. I had sketched and doodled so many faces throughout the years, but I found that they were often emulating faces I had seen in comic books, famous paintings or magazine illustrations. I think that’s why I chose to make my faces so simple, linear and flat when I finally started painting “real” humans. My painting style in general has lately been exploring the folk art aspect of linearity and flatness, so it was a good fit. In some ways, I think my Creamy Humans series are all self portraits, too.
Regarding my next series, I’ve found myself drawn to trying out some more abstract motifs, with paintings incorporating only aspects of the human body such as hands and feet and ears, letting the body parts interact with each other as well as with shapes and colors across the canvas.

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In 2017, Katharina will be launching her first solo project in music. Find more about her and her work at www.katharinastenbeck.com.

Artist Interview: Felt Flanerie

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Amanda Ondretti is a maker of plush toys and felt goodies under her brand Felt Flanerie. You may have seen her one-of-a-kind creations in the window display of Leanna Lin’s Wonderland. Read more about this Los Angeles artist in my latest interview.

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What’s the story behind Felt Flanerie? How did you bring your brand to life?

My grandma taught me to sew when I was 10. But I got into sewing plushies when I needed some gifts for my four siblings one very broke holiday season and after that I was hooked. I haven’t really looked back since. I love it too much to stop.

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What’s the process of creating your unique pieces?

I start with sketches of the idea and once I’ve gotten a grip on the basic form, I test out the shapes and sew together a crude prototype. Drawing the form from the sketch on the fabric and cutting out all the pieces that will be sewn together. Once all the detail pieces are stitched I sew it up and stuff it. If changes need to be made I make notes and start up a second prototype to fix any issues or oddities. If that second version is satisfactory I’ll make a third one with all the polished embellishments. Once the third versions is stuffed, tags go on and it’s stored away until I can take photos for its online post.

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What’s your dream felting project? Assume that you have all the time in the world to produce one special piece – what would it be?

If I had all the time in the world I’d love to make a huge fantastical forest scape, something I can fill to the brim with whimsical flowers, plants, and animals from the tree canopy to the forest floor. It’d be really sweet if it’s was big enough for folks to walk through too.

Do you have a green thumb or black thumb?

Unfortunately I’m a black thumb, but I’m trying to learn more so I can one day graduate to green thumb tho, definitely would love to grow my own basil and tomatoes.

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How will 2017 unfold for you?

Smoothly I hope. I hope overall 2017 brings felt plushie lovers of all kinds with custom work for the shop. I love when folks come with special requests for custom pieces. Cause I get to step out of my comfort zone and working on something special for someone.

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Visit Amanda’s Etsy shop to order Felt Flanerie goods. Custom orders are welcome and appreciated. You can also connect with Amanda on Twitter and Instagram.

Artist Interview: Vanessa Ramirez

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Vanessa Ramirez is a Serial Doodler and Sculptor of Things. Her sculptures and drawings tend to be expressive snapshots of monsters in their daily lives. Her monsters are a mixture of cute, odd, and just a touch neurotic. Vanessa’s creativity and imagination are fueled by a lifetime love of traditional and stop motion animation. See what’s she up to next in my latest interview.

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Anyone who knows you knows you’re fascinated with sharks. When can we expect shark sculptures from you?

I LOVE SHARKS. And 2017 is the year. I will be releasing my first resin sharks tomorrow [February 3]. There are two different version that will be available. I will have more information about the second release on my social media feeds and of course progress pics if you like that kind of thing.

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What does the future hold for the Dark Nesh?

The Dark Nesh character is a lot of fun to draw and using that character in some way is something I have been rollin around my head for a while. I have some ideas for a comic of sorts that I am hoping to get to this year if I can get enough material together in a way that makes sense. So she’s still wandering around in the background wreaking havoc.

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How do you balance your art life with your day job?

It’s not always easy but I find planning helps. Things don’t always work out how I plan of course and there are days when it’s just not happening but planning is key. The hardest part is knowing when to stop. There are times I work way too late and have to be at work early and that is not great. So I try to stick to a quitting time that gives me time to unwind and sleep properly.

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How will you keep your work fresh in 2017?

I will hopefully stay fresh by staying consistent. Continuing to work hard and push myself. Make things I want to see in the world from my perspective and expand the little world I am building one neurotic monster at a time.

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Vanessa can be found making her creations under the cover of night from an undisclosed location in Los Angeles where she currently resides. Her works are available on BigCartel and her first shark release will launch tomorrow, February 3. She also has work available at Stranger Factory.

Artist Interview: Angella Powell

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Angella Powell is a Canadian artist who has shown work at galleries in Edmonton, Alberta. Last year, her artwork was displayed at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland and at New York Comic Con. Angella took some time to share some thoughts about her life as an artist.

You mentioned that you want to build a new body of work. Can you give us a taste of what to expect in 2017?

I plan to fill the year with paintings, sculptures, and textile-filled artworks. 2017 will be a year of pigeon portraiture, jackalopes in satin, and other assorted beasties in their finest.

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Tell me about the fantasy world that your unique creatures come from. I imagine them residing in different corners of the same universe.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m Canadian and am lucky enough to have a family that enjoyed nature and the wilderness that exists in plenty here. I’ve always loved and have been inspired by the natural world around me. I am also deeply interested in archetypes and mythologies, especially indigenous gods and goddesses, and think that all of this combines in my creative mind to create the blended anthropomorphic creatures I call the Cervari.

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What is the hardest part about being a working artist?

The hardest part is finding the time to create! I know I have to sleep sometimes, and going to work to make a bit of cash is great as well as getting me out of the house once in a while (my natural tendency is to hermit). I am a natural morning person, waking up at 5AM on most days regardless, and unfortunately that also happens to be my most creative time of the day. Finding a balance with all aspects of my life is something I continually work on.

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I loved your mixed media pieces for the Tiny Wonderland show. Can we expect more?

Mixed Media is my primary medium for all artworks, regardless if they’re 2D or 3D. It’s rare for me to just paint or sculpt using in one medium- I collect handmade papers, textiles, dye and spin my own wool, and have containers of gathered things from just about everywhere. Embedding bark paper onto a birch panel, constructing a felted cloak for an animal bust, or sewing tiny silver beads into a wall hanging- it’s all part of the work that I do.

What role does art play in your life?

Art is life. When I’m in a drought I feel like something’s missing. When I’m hands-deep in a project I lose track of time and know that I’m doing one of the most natural things I can do. I surround myself with artworks from fellow creators for inspiration and that sense of community.

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Angella is currently open for shows and commissions so get in touch with her. You can see more of her work on her Instagram.