Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist? Have you always been creative?
I was born in Arizona and, at the age of three, my family and I relocated to Northern Territory, Australia. I spent the next eight years living in the outback and rolling around in the dirt with my friends. (A lot of video games were played during this time also.) I think I’ve always been creative in one way or another. The kids in my neighborhood and I would get hyper-obsessed with one game at a time, and we’d pretend to be those characters and just expand upon those stories and universes in our own way. I only started drawing frequently once I moved back to the United States. The transition was awkward for me, and it was surprisingly difficult to make friends. Instead, I’d spend the majority of the day drawing. As a kid, I don’t know if I ever “decided” to become an artist; I just intuitively knew it was something I was eager to engage in. It was rewarding for me.
How did you develop your skills? Did you study art in school or are you self taught?
Although I studied art in college – I just graduated this past May with a dual bachelor’s in Electronic Art and Graphic Design – I consider myself to be a self-taught illustrator. By that point, I had already been drawing for so many years and kind of had my own workflow going.
Funnily enough, when I started college, I didn’t believe I would become an artist at all, let alone study art. (I majored in nutrition for one semester before rapidly changing course.) I then focused on learning skills in school that remained relatively unrelated to drawing, such as video editing, processing, typography, and motion graphics. In my last year, I challenged myself to learn how to animate and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Have your family and friends always been supportive in your artistic path, or has it been challenging for them to understand your choice?
I’m lucky in that my family has been incredibly supportive. It was an admittedly scary decision to change from science to fine arts in the middle of my first year, and a lot of my peers at that time didn’t understand, but it felt like the right thing to do. For the first time in my life, I was truly taking control of the direction I wanted to head in. Drawing has always been something I fell back on – the thing I did whenever I had free time – and it was then I finally decided to pursue it.
What was your strongest influence you had growing up (artists, cartoons, films, comics, etc.)?
In the mid-90s, Pokémon fever was real and I was fortunate enough to have experienced the fervor. It became a gateway to so many beautiful worlds: video games, anime, and trading cards. I distinctly remember staring at the original illustrations made for those first decks – Base Set, Jungle, Team Rocket – and thinking, “I could totally do something like this.”
The early Internet was also a huge influence on me. Seeing all of these amazing illustrators posting their work on DeviantART was unlike anything else I could find in my small Australian town. At that time, other sources of inspiration were found in browsing dedicated game fanart and fantasy illustration forums, as well as oekaki boards.
I saw Spirited Away at the age of ten and that really changed me forever. My expectations of animation were never the same after that.
Finally, playing the Kindgom Hearts franchise at the peak of its popularity was hugely influential as well. So many feels. I could probably list things in this section for days, so I’ll just leave it at that.
Do you have a routine when sitting down ready to get creative?
It really depends on the medium I’m working with. If it’s traditional art, I’ll usually sit at a desk or elsewhere with a drawing board and a massive basket full of markers nearby. If I’m making digital art on my iPad, I have a little more freedom and I’ll bundle up with blankets while attempting to sit somewhat upright. Slouching is an awful habit that I’m trying to break.
In any case, I’m usually listening to something while drawing – it helps me to further remove myself from the physical world and get inside whatever’s going on in front of me. I’m incredibly passionate about my music, and I’ll listen into playlists I’ve made on Spotify or log onto Soundcloud if I’m feeling adventurous. When I’m in the mood, I’ll listen to inspirational art-related talks and podcasts on YouTube.
What part of the creative process is the easiest, what part is the hardest and what part is the most fun?
I really enjoy designing the physical aspects of characters: what they look like, what they enjoy wearing, how their hair falls. I’ve always found that to be the easiest thing, and thus the most fun. I’m also very fond of working with color. Limited color palettes are the most enjoyable kind of challenge to decipher.
I’m constantly cycling through various compositions of images in my head, especially when listening to music: it’s like I can visualize scenes that would happen in accordance with the sounds – what the characters are doing and how they would interact with one another. The difficulty lies in bringing these images to reality. I’m still learning how to effectively communicate how certain things make me feel, and bringing my viewer into that same space. It’s all a matter of practice, and something that I’m working on mastering. I have a feeling that a return to the fundamentals is something I will be focusing on in the very near future.
Have you worked on any exciting projects in the past and are you working on at the moment (if you can tell us)?
About a year ago I started developing a story called “Land and Cloud.” It’s basically about a girl who is manipulated into entering another world and is forced to interact with the deities of this new universe in order to find her way back home. It is inspired by an amalgamation of elements within various franchises and stories that I hold very close to my heart: Miyazaki, The Legend of Zelda, Deadman Wonderland, and others. I still haven’t decided on the best course of action to convey the narrative – if I should write a novel or create a comic. Either way, it’s quite an expansive project that is going to take some time to come to fruition.
Beyond that, I’m currently working on building my online portfolio and producing a strong body of work. Since graduating I’ve been focusing on creating the best illustrations that I can, and challenging myself to grow with each piece. I also started a YouTube channel, opened a store, and continue to network with my friends. One of my favorite things to do is share my artwork with people that I care about.
Do you have a long-term career goal and what would your dream project be?
Recently, I’ve dreamt of advancing my skills within animation and motion graphics and working on visuals for various musicians, particularly electronic music artists. That would really be something else. I am infatuated by the idea of merging visual art with my favorite genres of music and creating a narrative in doing so.
Would you prefer to work for a company or work as a freelancer? And why?
I usually prefer working alone in regards to my personal work. However, I wouldn’t mind working for a company if I was intrigued by their objectives and felt like it would be a good fit for me. At this point, I’m open to anything, really.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? What do you do to keep yourself creative and boost your imagination?
If you can, try and identify the source of the block. What external factors are at play? Usually I try and take a hiatus, but if the block is longer than a week or so, I have to force myself to draw. Initially, I would recommend sketching without the intention of showing it to anyone. In this era of social media, I believe the pressure of constantly posting your work online can be stifling. I try to remove myself from the feeds and watch a movie, listen to music, or go exercise. Running and yoga are both practices that I highly recommend for getting out of your head and inspiring creativity.
Do you have a favourite subject to draw? If so, what makes it so special?
This past spring I developed my online brand/persona Peche for my final honors thesis and have since continued to build upon it. Peche’s aesthetic is simply really fun to draw: bright colors, a pseudo-anime style, interesting characters and intricate lines all merge together to generate some quirky illustrations.
Of course, character design is another preferred subject. I’m intent on furthering my skills in regards to perspective, expression, atmosphere, and gestural drawing. Needless to say, I have a lot of work to do.
Additionally, nature is always a joy to render. Recently I’ve become fascinated with the idea of integrating manmade structures with organic environments: for example, exploring the dichotomy between a futuristic sci-fi city and an ancient thriving forest. I’ve been told that my vector work feels technically robotic, so employing that art style with biological subject matter could be very interesting.
Who are the artists that inspire you the most today? And why?
Some unwavering favorites of mine in regards to illustration are Loish, Imperial Boy, Bara-chan, Grace Neutral, Audra Auclair, Alphonse Mucha and Winsor McCay. When I look at their works, something moves inside of me.
Miyazaki films are a given. I also enjoy Luc Besson, Sofia Coppola, and Mamoru Hosoda.
Some musicians I’m currently fond of include Mura Masa, Koan Sound, Haywyre, Ryan Hemsworth, Qrion, Bonobo, Porter Robinson, Madeon, Cashmere Cat, and Wave Racer. (Note: none of these lists are exhaustive.)
Do you have something that you've designed that you are most proud of?
Last fall I tried my hand at frame-by-frame animation for the first time, which resulted in the Land and Cloud teaser trailer. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, despite the project clocking in at less than thirty seconds long. Regardless of how painstaking the animation process can be, I can’t wait to start my next project. It’s such a rewarding experience.
If you had to give one piece of advice to someone just getting started in the creative field, what would it be?
Draw as often as you can. Master the fundamentals early on, and worry about style later. Keep a sketchbook, preferably one that you don’t feel pressured to share online. Don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t cave to the coercion of comparing yourself to those you look up to. And finally, be patient with and forgiving of yourself if you’re not yet where you want to be.
Finally, where can we find you and your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
I can be found on instagram, twitter, and tumblr under the handle @artofpeche. I also have a website at http://artofpeche.com, and my store is located at http://peche.storenvy.com.