Sorry I can’t pay for this taxi ride I’m just a poor werewolf.
As promised… the rest of the Star Trek TOS crew! I just ordered prints of these which should be coming in soon.
(Chekov almost wasn’t a Russian Blue… then I realized I would get hell if he wasn’t ;P But Scotty is most definitely a Scottish fold. Also, my theory is Sulu is actually a Japanese bobtail.)
I’ve done a few interviews with a few different websites, but they tend to ask a lot of the same questions. Which is fine, since I understand the need to know where the whole idea for the cats came from, but I get that question so much I might as well make a FAQ to cover those sorts of things. I was discussing this with my good friend and fellow artist Albert Nguyen, and he came up with the idea to do an interview with some questions I don’t get asked so often but things that people might be interested in knowing about me. If people are actually curious about these sorts of things. Anyhow… onto the interview!
Albert: So you’re about to finish your second year of being a full time freelance artist. What’s the biggest change you’ve made either in how you illustrate, or how you run your business in general since the day you quit your day job and decided to illustrate full time?
Jenny: I don’t know if there has been a big change in how I illustrate, but I think I have managed to simplify the way I work. While I wouldn’t say I have a specific formula for how I draw my cats (I’ve avoided doing tutorials because I’ve feared they wouldn’t make sense), I’ve figured out a way that works best for me. The purchase of a Cintiq tablet has certainly made working digitally much easier.
As for how I run my business, that has changed quite a bit from when I started. Everything from how I packed for conventions to how I recorded sales was a bit clumsily done, and I have since then found ways to streamline those aspects of my business… and I’m still learning!
AN: What event or art piece has been your biggest success so far?
JP: Even though the Doctor Mew piece was the one that started it all, I think it was the Catvengers that gained the most immediate attention and the one I get more consistent comments on. It is the poster I get most sales on at cons, but also the one that typically gets the biggest response from people. They like laughing at the big, fluffy green Hulk cat, and I don’t blame them.
AN: What do you think your biggest mistake has been so far?
JP: When I was just starting out I had ordered way too many products without knowing how many I might sell, which caused some issues as far as trying to find room for these products when they didn’t sell as quickly as I had hoped. It was a lesson learned the hard way, but now I start with a small batch of a new product to test how well it does before buying more.
AN: Do you miss doing more strict scientific illustration?
JP: Sometimes, but I still sketch a lot of animals besides cats. I am still a member of the Guild of Natural Scientific Illustrators Northern CA chapter, and when I have time I will do a small piece for one of their art shows.
AN: If you could make the same amount of money, would you give up the convention circuit to do scientific illustration full time?
JP: I don’t think I would. While that may have been my goal when I first graduated, there is something about being able to engage with fans at conventions that is very appealing. I might do less conventions if I could since they can be very exhausting, but I think I will continue doing them until… I don’t know, I just get sick of them, maybe?
AN: What’s your favorite illustration you’ve done so far?
JP: So far… actually I am very happy with how the Marvel covers came out, especially the Thor cat, but the Superior Spider-Cat also amuses me a lot.
AN: Do you see a world beyond cat art?
JP: Yes and no. I think I will always be doing cat art, even if for some reason people lose interest in it. I’ve always drawn cats for my own amusement, and I probably always will… At the same time, if I could be successful making art that is completely mine and not based off of an already established fandom, that would be very fulfilling as an artist.
AN: What subject matter do you want to explore more of?
JP: There are a few of my favorite shows I haven’t done cats of yet, like Game of Thrones and Hannibal, but I’ve been trying to focus on doing one thing at a time so I haven’t gotten to them yet. Other than cats, I have some personal projects that are always in the back of my mind that I’d like to do something with some day (like a graphic novel) but it would involve drawing people (and werewolves) so I feel like I have a lot more practice to do before any of those happen.
AN: What would your advice to a recently graduated art student be?
JP: This might be corny advice everyone gives but… don’t give up. I remember hearing from some of my art teachers and other veteran artists that success doesn’t happen overnight (unless you get really lucky) and that 5 years is for some reason the sweet spot for when an artist starts to see some form of success. In my case, there were things that happened right after I graduated that derailed my plans to do nothing but freelance, and I needed to get a day job. While I still tried hard to send out promos and get myself into the art world I eventually fell into a bad rut. I thought about giving up on art entirely and trying something else instead… but I had no idea what to do and it was very frustrating.
It took a combination of happenstance, encouragement from friends and family, and my own determination to get me out of it. I think finding a community of other artists is very important. Even if they are struggling too, at least you are struggling together.
AN: What would your advice to a student looking to enter art school be?
JP: Think about what you want to get out of art school. I’ve heard a few of my fellow art school graduates talk about how they think they probably shouldn’t have wasted their money on it and that they could have taught themselves whatever was taught in classes… While a part of me agrees that it could be easy enough to buy a bunch of books and teach yourself techniques, that kind of learning requires a certain degree of self discipline I don’t think I would have had (at least at that age). I also feel that the college experience is mostly valuable for the friendships and contacts you end up creating.
I went into college not knowing what I ultimately wanted to do with my life, and I think that is okay. I’m pretty sure most students have no idea what they want to do with their life and even if they do have some idea, life can often change that. So, I guess what I mean by thinking about what you want to get out of it is, are you just looking to better your skills, or is there more to it that you hope to find? Art school isn’t for everyone, but I think it can be helpful in shaping who you will be as a person and an artist.
Hey! If you have any questions for me, feel free to drop me an ask. Anon is on so long as the asks stay friendly. :3
(What generally happens when I see a cat. “Kitty!” *grasp*)