For today’s feature, we are featuring a lovely up and coming artist. CallyAnn from CallyAnnCreates. She creates a wide variation of art from anime drawings to action scenes. She also does her own illustrations for her web comic. Loose Canon. Here’s the interview we did with her…
Social Hobbit: How did you get into drawing?
CallyAnn: I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember (as I think most kids do), but the first time I decided to really hone my skill stemmed from realizing that Ash (from Pokémon) has tombstone-shaped eyes, and they didn’t look so hard to replicate. It probably sounds like such a weird thing, but that was it! I tried to make my own Pokémon comic, and just figured stuff out as I went.
S.H. : What has been your biggest inspiration for drawing?
CallyAnn: Stories. I love stories. I wanted to draw because I wanted visuals to go with all the stories in my head. I love video games and animation, and I wanted to come up with the kinds of things that might be in games or movies.
S.H. : When did you decide to start selling your artwork?
CallyAnn: Selling my artwork started way back when I was a teenager, just cutting my teeth on Gaia Online. I’m a bit obsessed with money, and I badly wanted to be “Gaia rich,” haha. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. Anyway, selling art for Gaia Gold was a thing (and still is, I hear), so I tried to get into that market by entering small user-run contests and then by taking commissions. Frankly, I just wasn’t very good, so it was never the success I hoped. I was also SO busy as a teen, I didn’t have any business making commitments to time-consuming art.
Anyway, at some point, an online friend mentioned the possibility of charging real money for my work. The concept floored me. I could hardly get people to pay me fake money for my art; who would want to part with real dollars? But I put the concept to the test when my cat suffered a kidney failure, and my parents would only take him in for the surgery he needed if I paid for it. I was a first-year, SO-BROKE college student at the time, and I didn’t know what else to do. The friend who’d encouraged me in the past truly put her money where her mouth was, and even reached out to others to solicit commissions. It was exciting, but harrowing, and I had nowhere near the skill or discipline to keep up. My cat died anyway, I felt so bad about my work, and drawing for money sapped all the joy out of it. It was paralyzing. I couldn’t draw anything without feeling guilty about not working on commissions.
I stopped selling for about seven years, while I continued to work on art just for myself, fairly certain that I’d never try again.
To be honest, I’m not sure what exactly changed, but I know it was a mixture of circumstance (more free time, lots of conventions in the area), improved skill and confidence, an interest in getting my name out there, and—most important—support/encouragement from wonderful people! I just started this year, with my very first event in June.
“Don’t be afraid to try new things! It’s the only way to get better. Switch up your media, experiment with a different style, change where/when you draw, etc. Also, I know it may just be human nature, but please please please please please PLEASE don’t stress out over other artists that are younger/more talented/more popular than you. Comparison is the thief of joy, and art is just too much work if it’s not bringing you joy.”
S.H. : What are some of your goals for the future?
CallyAnn: First and foremost, I want to finish season one of my web novel! I’m on-track to post the finale in October, so I’m quite excited about that!
When that is complete, my next project is to produce an art book displaying design work and scenes from the Zelda/D&D game I run with my friends.
S.H. : If you could give an aspiring artist some advice on drawing, what would it be?
CallyAnn: Don’t be afraid to try new things! It’s the only way to get better. Switch up your media, experiment with a different style, change where/when you draw, etc.
Also, I know it may just be human nature, but please please please please please PLEASE don’t stress out over other artists that are younger/more talented/more popular than you. Comparison is the thief of joy, and art is just too much work if it’s not bringing you joy.
S.H.: You draw for a comic, right? What made you get into that?
CallyAnn: I do illustrations for my web novel, Loose Canon. The characters for this story have been with me for over a decade, and I’ve wanted to create a story for forever. I spent years fantasizing about Loose Canon as an animated series. However, I cannot animate, and even if I could, it takes hours to create just a few seconds of animation. My next thought was to try a storyboard-style web comic (to sidestep paneling, which I also have no skill for). Ultimately, I decided that illustrated prose would be the most economical route if I ever wanted the project to exist beyond my daydreams. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard is “finished, not perfect,” and that’s a mantra I recommend to anyone looking to tackle a big project. Don’t wait until you’re “good enough!” Loose Canon doesn’t match my visions of grandeur, but being real with myself about my skill level and capacity has allowed me to create a product I can actually share instead of just think about. A finished sketch is worth more than an imagined masterpiece, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. If you’re interested, you can check it out here! http://loosecanon.callyanncreates.com/
S.H.: What are some of your favorite things to draw?
CallyAnn: I’m really only good at drawing people, haha. I’m slowly developing my skill in backgrounds, but I’ve always been very character-focused. I drew only OCs for about a decade. I’ve branched out into drawing a lot more fan art. I used to consider fan art “cheating” because I was so conscientious about being ~*~*ORIGINAL.*~*~ While I wish that elaborately crafted original work garnered as much praise as a quick scribble of a character everyone recognizes, I’ve learned a ton and gained more confidence from drawing fan art. These days, I use a balance of fan art and original art to level up my skills, and I like doing both for different reasons.
S.H. : Do you have any favorite materials you like to use?
CallyAnn: I’ve used my Photoshop and Wacom tablet combo for years (going on 13, now). Just last year, I took the dive into trying out the iPad Pro and Procreate setup that people have been raving about, and I vastly prefer drawing and inking with the iPad. My coloring process just works better on Photoshop, though, so my current go-to workflow is in two stages:
drawing and inking on the iPad with Procreate and Apple Pencil;
coloring, shading, and finishing touches with Photoshop and my Wacom Intuos.
The second “stage” takes so much longer than the drawing and inking that I find it’s much easier on my body to do it at my computer rather than bending over my iPad.
S.H. : Are you self-taught? Or did you take classes?
CallyAnn: Self-taught. I borrowed and bought several “how-to-draw” books and graphic novels and just tried to copy the pictures. I took art classes in high school, but “anime” was discouraged, and I never scraped any affinity for other subjects, nor for traditional media. Digital cartoon illustration was where my heart lay, and the only person who could teach me then was me. With the advent of sites like DeviantArt and YouTube came online tutorials, and I’m forever grateful for those resources.
S.H. : Do you plan to take your art to big conventions? If so, which ones?
CallyAnn: I’m doing FanX in September! I’m very excited and VERY nervous. You can check out all the events I’ve slated for the year at my website, https://www.callyanncreates.com/.
S.H: How would you describe your work space?
CallyAnn: On a good day, it’s tidy and cute, adorned with my army of stuffed animals and figurines and prints of commissions. Most days, it’s not tidy, with tangles of cords, notepads, and random knickknacks clustered among the cute stuff. My desk and setup are ill-suited to my work. I need to put my screen up higher and my tablet down lower to be more ergonomic. It functions OK for now.
It has been an excellent experience interviewing CallyAnn, and I recommend checking out her work!
Feature image artwork by CallyAnn