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Artist Spotlight with Melissa Pagluica…

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This week we focused on Melissa Pagluica for our Artist Spotlight.  Her art has it’s own developed style that is unique and eye catching, we hope you all enjoy our interview with Melissa…
Q.  When did you first realize you had this amazing talent and that you could make it a career?
I can’t recall a moment where lightening struck and I thought “Yes, I can make a career out of this!”. All I knew is that I loved to tell stories with my art. It’s kind of in me and I can’t help but make stuff. It was more of “I want to keep doing this. How can I keep doing this?” followed by a lot of trial and error. 

So basically I failed a lot but it didn’t stop me from continuing to do what I love. Eventually, I started to fail a little less and people seemed to like what I was doing. I will say that after college I did my first ever local con and it was then that I realized how much I loved having a table and sharing my work. Every convention started to act like a deadline for me to get more work done.

Q.  How long did it take you to find your style?  And when did you know that’s the look you wanted?

You have a lot of influences, things you love, things you study while you are learning how to draw. Your hand starts to pick up on patterns that work for you. After awhile, when you pass a certain threshold of accumulating a visual library (and you are not focusing so much on learning “how” to draw it) you start to have a bit of fun with your lines. I think that’s where an artist real style comes from, when they get a chance to play with their lines.

And I am not sure I really had my style until the end of college (I graduated back in 2007), by that time I had created a series of work for my culminating BFA show.

Q.  What were some of your creative influences when you were growing up?
There are two films that dominated my childhood: The Last Unicorn, and The Sea Prince and Fire Child. Funny how both movies tell a bittersweet story. I think that sweet sadness has stayed with me, as well as the imagery and elegance of the two films.  I was also a huge Sailor Moon, and Miyazaki fan.
Q. Let’s talk about “Above the Clouds” how did it come to be and can you tell our readers what it’s about?

Above the Clouds is a half silent comic that intertwines two stories. It follows a young girl name Eily, who’s world is silent until she is given a book. She falls in love with the story about hero trying to save a dying world from a dragon only to find out the story isn’t done. Eily decides to go on her own quest to get the author to finish what he has started.

The heart of the story is about not giving up. It’s funny how things in your own life make its way into the art you create. Before Above the Clouds, I was working on this story for a year and it was going no where. I realized I made it too precious and I was afraid of making a mistake. I realized I had to let it go, or level up before trying to tell it.

So I made a goal of working on a short story, one in which I was not allowed to let be too precious. If I was able to get one page done it was already a success! I think taking the pressure off and giving myself a smaller mountain helped me move forward. I mean, it was about learning! Learning how to layout a page, learning how to craft a story, dialogue, etc. There are so many parts to making a comic it can be overwhelming.

My previous story pulled a lot of inspiring out of Norse Mythology and I took some of concepts from that and played with the imagery of the great world tree. There was a story about a squirrel that would run back and forth between a great eagle at the top and the dragon below, gossiping and what not.

I made some character sketches one day after writing one line, “A boy gives a girl a book.” The next day I drafted out two pages. The day after that…I never looked back. I just kept making pages until 5 years later I finished!

Q.  What are some of the difficulties you’ve had being both the writer and illustrator?

My strength comes from visual storytelling. Writing is it’s own art form, so I am still exercising that muscle. I read a lot of books, I listen to authors talk about the craft, etc. I mean, just because I might be able to daw something in a pleasing way (for some) doesn’t mean it makes me a good storyteller. It’s something I wrestle with a lot. 

Q.  What are some tips you have for young artists?

I get emails from artist and writers from time to time and I have gotten down to 2 very important things. The MOST important two things that if you can master this you can do anything. 1) Don’t try to be perfect. You will never get anything done and you’ll only get in your own way. Heck, the most amazing things come from failing  and allowing yourself to not be afraid to make a mistake. 2) Consistency. Whatever you decide to do, whatever it is that makes the day click for you to get stuff done, do it. And do it consistently. There is a book called “Daily Habits” that goes over the habits of artist, musicians, scientist and after going through it you realize that no one was the same pattern that makes them get their work done. Except one thing, they find what work for them and do it a lot, all all the time, because it becomes a routine.

Q.  You also do sculptures, is this a new venture for you and how did it start?
I took ceramics in college. Loooove the medium and if i had access to a kiln I think I’d want to pick it up again. Before starting the comic, I went through a phase of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with myself. So way before trying to tell a story I had it in my mind that it would be rad to be a doll artist. So for a year I learned everything I could from working with oven baked clay all the way to using alpaca hair. Maybe one day I’ll have time to do more of those projects. Ha!
Q.  How was your WonderCon?  Any highlights?
Wondercon was good! Got to visit and hang out with friends.
Q.  What’s one thing you wish fans knew about the Artists working at a con?
Putting something out there is really hard and these creators work their butts off to get their stuff in print and in front of your eyes. You know what’s even tougher? Getting people to care about something they have never heard of before. This no knock on fan art, hell.. I use to do fan art! I just want to get the message out there that you don’t have to do fan art to survive the convention scene. I see so many people, talked with many people, who believe they “have” to do fan art. It’s a lie and I am getting tired of this myth being pushed. If you are doing fan art, more power to you and you can skip this next part, this message is for those who are afraid to put their original artwork out there because someone told them that you are going to fail unless you draw xyz company owned IP. It’s a lie. You can do it! Not saying it wont be an uphill battle, but it’s possible.
Q.  Where can our readers find you next?

I keep my convention schedule listed on my main website. The next big convention will be San Francisco Comic Con and Makers Fair!

Hello, I am the Creative Content Director. I don’t like talking about myself.