We interviewed amazing artist Jessica Chrysler! Her work is dreamlike and has an amazing imaginative style to it, it was a pleasure learning what influenced in her youth and what keeps her creative mind going. Let’s get into the Q&A with Jessica….
Q. When did you first realize you had this amazing talent and that you could make it a career?
I always loved to draw and create stories as a kid, but I didn’t know I could make a career out of it until high school when I met a pair of incredibly talented artists, Brian Damitz and Ming Ong. They took me under their wing and introduced me to their friends in animation. I toured one of their studios and when I found out that a whole crew of people worked on just one of the many shows I loved as a kid, I was hooked. I wanted to do that too—I wanted to bring my stories to life and share them with others. But while I loved the idea of drawing and creating awesome worlds for the screen, I still loved books and the play between words and pictures. That’s when I was drawn to comics and graphic novels, picking up my first manga, Vampire Hunter D, and wanting to create stories people can hold in their hands.
Q. What was it about National Geographic that inspired you?
Growing up, I’d split my time between playing sports and reading and drawing. I love exploration and adventure, so I was naturally drawn to the images and stories in National Geographic magazine. I’d cut them apart and make collages and I’d trace my favorite images and make cool scenes that my mom would hang on the fridge. I still do collaging as part of my process and when I need inspiration.
Q. You also have a very unique style can you tell us some of your influences?
A heavy influence of mine, both visually and in storytelling, would have to be Don Bluth. The Land Before Time and The Secret of NIMH are some of my all time favorite movies. When I began studying art in college, I gravitated towards the greats of American Illustration and the Pre-Raphaelite era: J.C. Leyendecker, Dean Cornwell, Jean Gerome, to name a few. I also have a special fondness for illustrated manuscripts, middle-eastern architecture and French comic art.
Q. Does working with children give you great ideas? Do you ever pull ideas from their imaginations?
I love working with children, either by helping them read, write, or draw, and they always teach me something new. The world is so new and fresh in their minds that the mundane becomes extraordinary. They help me to remember to stop and observe the world, to enjoy the sunlight as it catches on a leaf and wonder at the night sky as it fills with its billions of stars. What I often pull from them is their character—their likes and dislikes, funny words they make-up, or a habit of using a certain color pencil. Once in a while they’ll share a cool idea with me, but their personalities are usually my inspiration.
Q. Let’s talk about Monolithium… what is it and how did it come about?
Monolithium is a young adult, illustrated novel that I’m currently querying for publication. It’s a blending of sci-fi and fantasy, and features a strong heroine (who’s not so strong at first) that goes on an inter-galactic adventure to reclaim her throne. I’ve already had some great feedback from fans who bought my teaser last year at WonderCon, so I’m hoping I can share more with everyone soon!
Q. What do you do to get over a creative block?
I read. Reading is my number one hobby, and when given the choice of listening to a podcast or reading the article that goes with it, I’ll usually read the article. If I really need to get out of my headspace, I’ll go for a walk or watch a movie with a friend.
Q. What are some tips you have for young artists?
Read—no, seriously. Movies are great and so is watching tutorials on Gumroad to learn techniques in Photoshop or Maya, but when it comes down to getting inspired or getting that awesome idea no one else has, you can’t beat sinking into your favorite book. Something magical happens when we read—we experience the world through a different pair of eyes, and our brains have to conjure the images from the letters on the page. Movies and comics already have the images there for you, so it’s hard to deviate and discover something new with your own hand later. You can always use them as reference though, after you’ve done your sketching.
Which brings me to—research! Researching is your best friend. It will show what’s lurking in the sewer and what stars you’re really looking at when you look into the Australian sky. When you know the difference between a bowler and a fedora and what year they were popular, it will make your pieces stand out from someone else that just thought the funny looking hat looked cool on his futuristic Russian mobster.
Q. How was your WonderCon? Any highlights? Lowlights?
WonderCon is always a great time for me. I enjoy getting out and interacting with fans and seeing all the incredibly cool cosplay. This year I met a lot of great people, both at the con and outside of it, while my highlight was getting to trade sketches with some of the kids on Sunday. I just wish I drew better with crayons!
Q. What’s one thing you wish fans knew about the Artists working at a con?
I come to shows like WonderCon so I can engage and interact with my fans directly. I love to hear their stories and latest favorites to help me get ideas for my next project. It also helps me know that I’m making stuff other people like and care about too, not just making paintings for my own little cave.
Q. Where can our readers find you next?
I’m doing live demos of my drawing and painting process on my Facebook page every Thursdays at 5:30 PM PST. You can check out some of them right now and get updates on my work and convention schedule by following me there or on Instagram and Twitter @jesschrysler. I will also be on a few panels during San Diego Comic Con this year, though I don’t have any specifics as of yet. If you prefer email, feel free to join my mailing list by visiting the contact page my website at JessicaChrysler.com