This week we spoke with Aimee Steinberger! Her creative talents include illustrations, costume designers, and even children’s books. Aimee tells how she started, her influences, and what’s next on her creative palette.
Q. Can you tell us how you went from South Carolina to Los Angeles and working on Futurama?
I drew all the time when I was a kid and wanted to be an animator since they started showing the “making of” specials about Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid on TV. That was when it registered to me that it was a job that one could get. I found an animator working at the local TV station, Kem Welch and he taught me how to animate. From there I visited my top 4 colleges that had some sort of animation program. I chose Calarts in Valencia, CA and got in. My junior year of college I started work during the summer on Futurama. I didn’t know very much about storyboarding or layout or anything like that, so they taught me on the job. I guess from my student films they thought I had potential. I worked there for the summer and then on graduating I went back and worked there until Futurama stopped. From there I worked on the Simpsons and some pilots for Disney and Warner Bros, etc and went back to Futurama when it came back later. I’m very grateful for Rough Draft giving someone like me a chance when I was still in college! I learned a lot! I enjoy doing storyboards now and it really was a great solution for me to keep drawing and push my composition.
Q. Other than Beauty and Beast what else inspired your creativity when you were growing up?
I loved illustrated fairy tale books and almost all cartoons, really. I also watched what anime I could get access to like Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon and Ranma 1/2.
Q. Has becoming a mother changed how you create? and what you create?
I definitely have different perspective now on working conditions and priorities now. Part of it is having kids and part of it is just getting older and your perspective changes. I don’t want to work 90 hour weeks destroying my hand and having no life and seeing none of the people I care about. I want to have time to do a little personal work and I want to live my life and care for my friends and family. The job owns me for X amount of time, not my entire existence. I’m willing to pull hard work for the team at the end of a schedule but I’m not ok currently with working super late and overtime all the time, every week. IMHO, working that much shouldn’t be ok regardless of whether you are a parent or not, but definitely these little kids are depending on me to be present for them, not just someone who pays the bills!
In regards to being inspired by my children, I’m currently working on a children’s book which is a direct result of my children and inspired by their likes and personalities. I have always loved children’s books and collected them and I have wanted to make one for a while, even before I had kids. I would like to finish this one before they get too much older! I think children’s perspective on life is very refreshing as well and it’s interesting to see how they interact with cartoons and what they gravitate towards. It’s lovely to share things that I enjoy with them, like for instance watching Sailor Moon or She-Ra with them.
Q. You do illustrating, stories, comics, and costuming… how do you juggle having so many creative outlets? Do you ever hit a creative wall? And how do you get yourself started up again?
I think that it appears that I am doing all of these things at once, but I’m really not! I only make maybe one complicated costume a year now, due to lack of time. I think when you are young and don’t have a lot of obligations you can just make costumes all the time, but with my job and trying to do my own creative projects and having kids, I don’t have a ton of time for sewing. I am a pretty fast seamstress after years of practice and so I can sew faster than a beginner! I do find that sewing is a good creative outlet that is entirely different from drawing and so I find it a good stress relief. It’s fun to create something beautiful from a pile of fabric based on my tastes.
When it comes to illustrations, I usually will cram and stay up late about a week to get a couple new ones done before a convention I’ll be selling at, but most weeks I just focus on my day job work.
I find overall though that the best way for me to get balance and regularly do anything on top of a regular job is to schedule a little time in the morning for doing my project before doing my actual job and if needed a little time occasionally in the evening to work on my project instead of watching tv. A lot of folks spend multiple hours a day watching tv or playing games. That’s fine sometimes, and everyone needs a break but scheduling just a couple work sessions instead will be great! Usually the wall is just not wanting to sit down to do X. I usually find that once I sit down and get started, I’m happy to work on it and keep going. Since I draw professionally, I don’t really have the luxury of saying “I have an art block!” and then not drawing! I try to push past it by continuing to work or trying to find inspiration to help me think of a good idea.
Q. You documented two trips to Japan in “Japan Ai: A Tall Girls Adventures in Japan” and I can see Japanese influences in some of your work, what was it about Japan that left such a big influence on you?
Of course watching anime from a younger age is part of it but I was also exposed to Japanese woodblock prints when I was young and then I started looking more into traditional Japanese art and folk lore. I really appreciate the calligraphic quality of it in the same way that I can appreciate Al Hirschfeld‘s work. I enjoy the attention towards nature, seasonal cues and animism that seeps in to many aspects both popular and traditional. I also really appreciate the broad depth of subject matter in Japanese comics and animation. There are many masterful artists of many different styles to be inspired by.
Q. Any plans on a return trip to Japan and/or another book?
I definitely would love to return to Japan and would love to do another book about travel even if not specifically about Japan, but I have no current plans! I greatly enjoyed visiting China a few years ago and I would like to visit France perhaps next!
Q. Along with everything else you do, you’ve added enamel pins! Do you have anything else in the works?
I’m currently prepping to start a children’s book! I would also like to continue making more pins.
Q. How was your WonderCon? Any highlights? Lowlights?
I had a great time at Wondercon! I really enjoyed selling in artist alley and hanging out with friends. The only negative is just that I was selling alone without help and that’s always hard! I really enjoyed seeing people’s very amused reactions to my new pins and connecting with other artists and friends.
Q. What’s one thing you wish fans knew about the Artists working at a con?
I think sometimes fans forget that an artist is sitting there usually for many hours a day for multiple days and may or may not have eaten food for 8 hours, haha! I think sometimes it can be easy to assume an artist is stand-offish or doesn’t like you, when in reality they are very grateful to have you as a fan but just really really need a sandwich and a soda, haha. Many artists are also introverted and may have a hard time talking to you but they are doing their best.
Q. Where can our readers find you next? any cons?
I’m not sure what my next con is but you can find me posting regularly on social media below! I will be gradually be doing more live streaming on Instagram in particular I think!