Education and Qualifications
How/Where did you learn to draw?
I attended The Kubert School from 2008-09 where I studied narrative art, basic animation, cartooning and design.
Before attending The Kubert School, my formal training in art consisted of a GCSE and a failed AS Level. I did not get on very well with the strict curriculum centring on fine art and textiles, rather than illustration and narrative art, which I wanted to pursue. This shook my faith in my skills considerably, until I rekindled my love for comics in University and decided to go for a post-grad in The Kubert School.
As well as formal training, I am also constantly learning new techniques and styles from online tutorials, text books and other people's advice. I don't think you ever stop training as an artist.
Do you have any formal qualifications in art?
Technically I did not achieve a formal qualification from The Kubert School beyond a certification of first year completion, as I was offered a job back in the UK. Beyond that I have an A grade GCSE in Art and Design and a D grade AS Level.
How did you get in to The Kubert School?
I found out about The Kubert School in my final year of University, studying English Literature. As I had no formal qualifications in Art & Design passed my GCSEs, I decided to look for courses which did not rely on formal training but instead looked at portfolios of work. A lot of UK based courses relied on having a foundation degree and so I searched further afield. Eventually I found The Kubert School.
I knew of Joe, Andy and Adam Kubert from their amazing contributions to the world of comics, but had no idea that they also had a school where they trained students personally in narrative art. A lot of the ads you see for the school in the pages of comic books weren't in the UK editions that we picked up over here. I started working on a portfolio during my final year exams and soon had a body of work I was happy with. I sent off my application and by the time my degree was over I had been invited for an interview.
I was interviewed by Mike Chen and was part of one of the final rounds of interviews for that year. We talked about my work, my degree and life experience and why I was willing to go so far over to the States to study. I have always loved the USA, so the chance to live there as well as study in such an awesome school was a pretty cool bonus. A few weeks later I got my acceptance letter and the rest is pretty much history.
I am thinking of applying to art school, do you have any advice for me?
I get asked this question a lot. As I did not go to a UK University of Art or traditionl university, I may not be the best to ask, but I will tell you what I have learned from my minimal time in formal art education.
Firstly. I would try to educate yourself as to the curriculum of the school first and foremost. What sort of artist do you want to be? Do you want to work in textiles, multimedia, art restoration, illustration... there are so many options out there and you need to know that the school you apply to will be encouraging of those options. Does it have a good business of art program? If not, perhaps you should think of applying for an extra business or PR course as these can be extremely helpful in promoting yourself and turning your art into a business after you're finished with school.
Work experience is also very helpful in making these decisions as well as a great way to bolster your Personal Statement. Why not try getting experience in a publisher's art department, editorial department or photography studio, depending on the disciplines you want to further. Not only can this be a great source of references and networking in the future, but it will teach you whether or not this is the industry you want to go into.
Finally, try and put a personal voice into your portfolio. A lot of teachers will ask for cookie cutter 'good' work or 'technical samples' and while these are handy, be sure that you are also passionate about what your present in an interview as that is the whole point of art. Try filling up a sketch book with your own personal doodles and works in progress and have that with you in case they want to see a bit more from you than just the portfolio.
Technique and Method
What materials do you use for traditional art?
Generally I use Uni-Pin Pine Liners and India Ink for inking and Copic Markers for colouring. I also use water colours depending on the project.
What programs/materials do you use for digital art?
I use Photoshop CS6 for cleaning up traditional scans of ink work and colouring. I use Illustrator for lettering and a Wacom Bamboo Tablet.
Have you ever had art block?
Many times! I have a blog post here relating to this issue.
How often do you draw?
Pretty much every day. A lot of the things I work on every day aren't always seen as they are for future projects, warm ups or to be cleaned up digitally at a later time. I think drawing every day (if you have the time of course) is an important part of training yourself and developing a style.
Do you use reference?
Of course. I know a lot of older (and more skilled) artists than myself who are capable of drawing completely from their imaginations, and I truly admire that. However, if you want to train yourself to get to that point then you need reference. As a commercial artist this is extremely important as there are certain things I am asked to draw that I have not necessarily seen before, or have to be incredibly accurate.
The human form, for example, is an extremely intricate and diverse thing, with no two people looking exactly alike. I think using reference and varying your take on human anatomy is essential to creating diverse and dynamic figures, and for that you need anatomy classes, reference, models and life drawing classes to hone your vocabulary of body types. Not every man looks like Superman and not every woman looks like Power Girl. The world would be a very boring place if that were the case.
How long does it take to draw a picture?
This completely depends on the picture. A lot of people ask me at conventions how long it takes to draw my artwork and it is always a very difficult question to answer unless you have a specific piece in mind.
Generally the personal pieces tend to take a little less time as they are drawn from my imagination and as such I can often skip steps in my process and just enjoy the paining. Pictures that require reference tend to take a little longer as I try to be as accurate as I can and there are a lot of specific details and designs to include.
How do you plan a drawing?
I generally start by sketching very loosely using blue non-repro pencil. This allows me to play around with positioning, design and layout. Once I have a few ideas thumb-nailed out, I choose which one works best (or which elements of each) and then sketch it out larger and much tighter. If there are specific parts of the picture that are causing issues (most of the time this is hands - why are they so damned difficult?!) I will try to sketch these in as much detail as possible until I am happy enough to go onto inks.
Inks is my favourite part of the process as this is when the picture really takes shape and depth. I tend to spend a very long time on this stage as I love working on details. Once everything is done and checked over, I scan the inks and can begin to play around with colour, texture and text.
What is the original size of your images?
This depends on the image, but generally I tend to work much larger than the finished product. A5 prints tend to start out at A4; A4 start out as A3, etc... The more detail that is involved tends to mean the larger the original size image. Digital images are always saved at a much higher resolution than what I show on the internet as this allows me to go back in later and change the sizes if necessary. It's always better to have a larger image to scale down than a smaller image to scale up.
What/Who are your artistic influences?
I think these change every day as I am always finding new art and artists who inspire me, and all for many different reasons. Some of the biggest artistic influences on me growing up were artists like Dali, Mucha and Klimt, but as I got older I steered away from the Classics, though they still influenced me greatly.
Art as a Profession
You say that you are a commercial artist, what does that mean?
A commercial artist is simply an artist who is available for hire to create artwork for commercial use. This can include but it is not limited to designing book interior and exterior artwork, CD cover design, tee shirt design, posters, flyers and character design.
I think it is important to emphasise the commercial aspect of artistry as this is my job. I take my clients' needs and opinions very seriously and always try to create a product that is exactly what they wanted and needed. This can often involve a lot of research, style manipulation, time and effort and is the result of years of training and experience. Whenever I work with a client I try to show them every aspect of my process from thumbnails to roughs, pencils to inks, colour to text, onward to final product. In this way I refer to myself as a commercial artist as I am offering the client a service.
Do you have any tutorials?
I'm afraid not. I do however host an online stream where you can view my techniques and methods first hand if you think that would interest you.
When/Where can I see your artwork/you in person?
I visit a lot of conventions throughout the year, a list of which you can see on my Appearances page. Any Gallery appearances and exhibitions will be announced via my Facebook and Twitter, as well as on my News Page. I am also available to hire as a guest speaker or workshop leader in schools, libraries and youth clubs. Otherwise, I am available to talk to live on my stream on justin.TV, where you can also watch me create my artwork live.
Who designed your website?
Where else on the internet can I find you?
Are you a full time artist?
Yes. I became a full time artist in 2011 when I left my office job to pursue a career as an illustrator. I am also pursuing a career as a writer, currently working for a number of website writing reviews and articles as well as continuing work on my debut creator owned series Cirque Du Mort, the first volume of which was released in 2015.
How/Where do you find work?
Wherever I can! But in all seriousness, finding work is a daily part of my job. Social Media has become invaluable to finding work, whether it be creating and maintaining relationships with companies or simply searching hash-tags.
DeviantArt can be useful for small personal commissions, but most of my larger jobs are found through attending Comic Conventions and meeting other artists and contacting possible clients on a daily basis.
Contacting Me, Commissions and Requests
How do I contact you?
If you navigate to the Contact page you will find a variety of ways through which to contact me, including a handy contact form and the various social media sites which I belong to.
Will you draw my design/idea for free?
I do not draw or design for free.
Being an artist is my sole means of employment and as such I cannot afford the time or materials it would take to create a piece of artwork for free. Please bear in mind that being an artist is a job like any other and when you agree to pay an artist for their services, you are doing so because you would be unable to draw the item yourself.
You are paying for the time spent on the project, the communication the artist maintains with you to make sure it is exactly what you are looking for, the price of the materials they are using from their pens and paper to their extremely expensive copy of the Adobe Creative Suite, the years spent honing their skills, the price of their artistic tuition and the conventions, advertising and countless hours spent networking in order for you to have heard of them in the first place. So, if ever you think that is absurd to have to pay for something some people consider 'a hobby', please remember that the mug you are drinking out of was designed by an artist, as was the wallpaper in your house and the adverts on your television - this is not a hobby to the people who make it their job. It is an industry.
Do you do art swaps/trades?
No. I find that this can often cause unnecessary tension between artists as it can cause you to question the worth of your artwork against others, while affected by the bonds of personal taste.
Are you currently available for commissions?
Please see the footer of my website for information regarding whether or not my commission list is open. I occasionally open my commission list for limited periods via my Facebook and Twitter pages, so be sure to follow those if you would be interested.
I have a paid project in need of an illustrator, would you be interested?
I am always interested in the possibility of new work. Please feel free to contact me via my contact page and I will be sure to get back to you as soon as possible.
Where can I buy your artwork/prints and merchandise?
My Online Store section has a number of different options available depending on what you are looking for.
My Society6 offers merchandise including tee shirts, throw pillows, phone cases, rugs, clocks and mugs with my artwork for your consideration.
Etsy and Storenvy both offer my personalised products including hand drawn sketch cards, personal commissions, APs, signed prints and buttons.
If you are looking to commission a piece that is not listed in either my Etsy or Storenvy stores, or would like to create a more customised commission, please feel free to contact me via the Contact page.
All commercial requests (i.e. commissions of items which will be used by your company, for marketing/promotional purposes, or for monetary gain) must be made via the Contact page.
Do you sell clothing with your artwork featured?
All clothing with my artwork featured is available via my Society6 account. This offers a wide range of styles including, hoodies, tee shirts, fitted tees, tank tops, children's tees and baby's onesies.
If there is a design you like that has not yet been featured as apparel on my Society6, be sure to send me a message via my contact form or any form of social media stating that you would like to see it as clothing and I will see what I can do. Please be sure to link back to the artwork or name it specifically so I know to which piece you are referring.
Can I interview you for my blog/website/magazine?
I am happy to be interviewed and ask that you contact me via the form with links to your site, magazine or blog, so that I may familiarise myself with your content.
Would you be able to review my artwork/mentor me?
While I am happy to look over people's artwork in person or via e-mail, I do not always have the time. Therefore I ask that you be patient with any artwork that you send me and let me assure you that my silence is not a negative sleight on your work, it is simply that when I review someone's work I take it very seriously, and I cannot always find the time to write the constructive criticism necessary.
Due to my heavy workload I am afraid I am not able to mentor other artists, though I am incredibly flattered by the request.
I am not interested in having any of my artwork licesed for use in stock imagery. Many of my commissions belong to the original client and therefore reproducing them would be in breach of their personal copyright and ownership of the product.
PSP tubes are images used to make graphics, GIFs and animations, which are usually used as signatures in online forums and e-mails.
I do not allow people to use my work for PSP tubes or signature tags.
Section Layouts and Designs
I will only allow my artwork to be used in Layouts and Designs for online use if my website address and signature is clearly displayed. Please Contact Me before using my artwork for a layout or design as I reserve the right to refuse use of my work to any site or company.
Avatars and Icons
My artwork may not be used in avatars and icons unless my web address: www.anastasiacatris.com is clearly visible.
I have been asked this several times at conventions and I have to say it is the biggest compliment I receive as an artist. The idea that some one would permanently want a piece of my artwork on their body is an overwhlming compliment, so of course this is permitted. All I would ask is that you send me a photo of the finished tattoo as I would love to see how the tattoo artist interpretted my work and show it to my friends/followers.
Using my artwork as a refernece for your own is not a problem at all, as long as you do not outrightly copy my work. Referencing specific poses, styles or character designs is perfectly alright so long as you link to the original image that you used as reference when you display your work.
If you have used any of my artwork as inspiration or reference, I would love to see it, so please send me a link to it if you can.
Personal Use (i.e. Not for ANY financial gain)
Using my artwork for your own personal use, e.g. Desktop Background, small print out for display in the home is perfectly fine so long as you do not use the artwork for financial gain or publicising a product. I.e. Using the artwork on flyers, posters, business cards, public displays, tee shirts or items for sale such as printed work, canvases, keyrings, merchandise etc...
If you wish to display my artwork on your Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Pinterest etc... please take the time to link back to me or reference my name when you post my work.
If you would like to purchase my artwork in the form of merchandise, please check my online store or Contact Me personally. If you would like to use my artwork to promote your band, club, university club, group, convention, etc... please Contact Me.
Anyone found to be using my artwork for financial or promotional gain will have legal action taken against them if necessary.
Website or Blog Features
It is always a great compliment for my artwork to appear on some one else blog/website in the form of a feature, review or blog post. Feel free to blog, post and tweet my images, but please remember to always link back to my website www.anastasiacatris.com.
If you find my artwork being Pinned, Tweeted, Tumbled or posted to Facebook withou a link. Please either Contact Me with a link to the post, or ask the original poster to include a link to my website.
Appearances and Events
Would you be able to appear at my school/library/youth club to talk about working as an artist?
I would be happy to. I am currently working on a post regarding the workshops/talks that I offer, but until then feel free to Contact Me.
I’m a convention organizer, would you like to appear at our convention as a guest/speaker?
I would love to. Please be aware that I already appear at a number of events around the country throughout the year and, as such, may be unavailable to attend your event due to scheduling; but I would be happy to chat with you about the possibility and check my schedule. Feel free to Contact Me.
I’m looking to attend a convention as a guest/exhibitor. Do you have any tips for exhibiting?
I am currently writing several blog posts regarding my personal experiences of conventions and any hints and tips I feel I can offer. Feel free to subscribe to my blog for updates.
Do you stream your artwork?
Where are you from?
I am from Wales in the United Kingdom.
Why have you got blue hair! (Believe it or not, I get asked this a lot!)
I dyed my hair blue in 2008 for Halloween when I was in my first year of The Kubert School.
I went to a pretty restrictive Catholic High School which didn't allow people to dye their hair, so when I left I started experimenting with loads of colours (blue was always my favourite); but my hair was always too long to bleach fully without damaging it. So when I cut my hair short in University, I had a chance to finally turn it the colour I always wanted. I haven't looked back since!
Is your family supportive of your career?
Very much so! If it wasn’t for my parents I wouldn’t be able to be a full time artist. They have constantly supported me morally and financially from the moment I decided to move to New Jersey to study at The Kubert School to the day I quit my office job to move back home and begin my art career. They always instil me with confidence in my abilities whilst also giving me great business advice. I really wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for them.
I have a very close family, despite the fact that many of us live far apart. They have always taken a great interest in my career, from visiting me at conventions to simply liking and sharing me on Facebook. I really am very lucky.
Will you be my friend on Facebook?
Sadly I do not accept friend requests via my personal page any more as I am only using my Facebook as a work tool. As such I hardly ever use my personal page except for contacting close family and friends. My main output on Facebook is now primarily my Facebook Fan Page and you can contact me through that by ‘liking’ the page and messaging me.