This week we had the joy of interviewing Helen Deasy aka @helen.deasy as our artist spotlight of the week.
Hello! Please can you give us a brief little introduction about yourself?
Hi there, Friday doodlers! I’m Helen. I grew up in New York City. I’ve traveled to many countries, have visited most American states, and have called five different states my home. I currently live in Northern Virginia with my MVPs (Most Valuable People/Pets) my husband, son, and my dog.
What inspires you?
Literally everything inspires me. I have eclectic tastes and am always immersing myself in new experiences. You might find me reading Jane Austen one day and Steven King the next, or watching a Disney movie followed by a sci-fi flick. I hold a Masters Degree in Education from NYU, and taught elementary school for 18 years. In that time I was a Kindergarten, grades 1, 3 and 4 classroom teacher. I also taught Reading, ESL and K-6 Art. Each and every student has inspired me. My son, now 17, is a constant source of inspiration. Knowing that he’s watching me pushes me to follow my dreams. And my husband of 23 years, who is my biggest supporter, inspires me to work hard at something I love doing.
What is your favourite thing to draw?
I try to set clear goals for myself, so whatever my current goal is, ie. full page fairytale spread, a classic children’s story book cover, or an animal character design is what you’ll find me drawing. And though that may not sound exciting, learning new things and meeting goals has always been my favorite thing to do. I don’t think too much about whether I like what I’m drawing. I love drawing. Period. Learning how to draw something I’ve never attempted before gives me a sense of accomplishment. That said, I do love pigs and fit them into my illustrations when it makes sense to do so.
What art goals do you have for this year?
I’m working towards my picture book author/illustrator dream. I’m currently building my illustration portfolio, and learning how to storyboard and make book dummies. I also want to find work in licensing and editorial illustration. I’ve taken MATS courses and joined the Let’s Make Picture Books and SCBWI communities to learn as much as I can about the industry. Bonus- I’ve made friends and joined critique groups made up of other illustrators. Finding mentors and support helps to keep me accountable and on the path I’ve set for myself.
What techniques/supplies do you use?
I have a degree in Fine Arts so have studied lots of different art mediums but have always loved working with pencils best. I think because they’re so portable and immediate. I use Prismacolor pencils for final illustrations. I keep several sketchbooks for different projects. They’re super messy, just places for me to keep track of ideas and experiment a bit. For the past few years, I’ve been illustrating digitally. The iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Procreate app have given me the portability and freedom to work wherever I happen to be. If the illustration is important, then I edit and make color adjustments in Photoshop. I recently purchased a Wacom Cintiq so I can work on larger illustration projects directly in Adobe Photoshop. It’s amazing!
What advice would you give to another doodler/artist?
Just show up. Getting started is always the hardest part for me. If I schedule a time and sit down with my iPad or sketchbook, the ideas come. The more I show up the easier it gets and the better I get. Show up. Every day if you can. Before you know it, making art will become a habit. Also- the beginning stages of drawing are always messy. Just keep going.
Where can people go to learn more about you or see more of your work?