This week we have someone straight outta DeviantArt’s talent pool.
Let’s start with our classic intro, in the red corner we have..
Heya! I’m Kirara, a freelance artist and hobbyist living in the rainy state of Washington, USA. I’m currently 25 years old and share a house with my fiance, our two roommates and what is soon to be a menagerie of animals. I’m an enthusiast of creature design fueled by tea and tacos, and endless inspiration from the living world and the people around me. You can find me (and all the neon dinosaurs you didn’t know you wanted) at KiRAWRa.DeviantArt.com
When and how did you first start getting into design?
This might be cliche, but I knew just about from the first time that I could first hold a pencil that I would grow up to do something with art. Well, it was that or paleontology (eventually I figured out I could combine the two!). I’ve always been extremely interested in creature design and animals both real and mythical, and at the age of 19 I was commissioned by a small virtual pet site to create digital graphics and creature designs. Working with the artists and staff there gave me absolutely invaluable knowledge and insight into the creation process that I used as the foundation for what I do today.
Image (a design I did for the virtual pet site, Rescreatu, based on an archaeopteryx)
How did the virtual pet site find you?
I placed a “looking for work” advertisement on a little pet site hub known as Virtual Pet List. I tried in years previous to apply directly to some websites, but I was not versed enough in digital art at the time for my application to be accepted. I think everything just happened to fall into place at the right time when I was contacted through VPL. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for virtual pets sites after having played them all throughout childhood and growing up with “tamable creature” fads like Pokemon – it’s nostalgically fulfilling being the one creating the creatures now.
What does it take to be a good designer? Do you recommend going to school to learn art and graphic design?
I believe school can always be a fantastic resource for hands-on experience and access to tools, inspiration, and insight you might not normally have, but for most people, art is a very personal journey of practice and refinement that no one can truly teach. We also happen to live in a fantastic era where more resources and information than in any other time in history are available at the simple click of a mouse – an incredible help to anyone interested in art, especially if you want to try your hand at design but aren’t sure of the commitment that school demands.
How long did it take to start getting noticed and actually selling your artwork?
Getting noticed is definitely a gradual process for most people. There are some who get real lucky with a design that takes off, but for most artists it is a continuous effort of practice, advertising and experimentation. They key is to not give up! Take inspiration from things you enjoy, and there’s bound to be people that like your work and will want a piece of it for themselves. For the longest time I thought the only way to sell my art was to draw what other people wanted me to draw, and it wasn’t until after I did a few conventions selling some more personal pieces that I realized I could just make whatever interested me and people would like that kind of stuff too!
If you were to pick a favorite design you have created, which one would it be and why?
There are plenty of designs in the works right now that I am fond of – mostly imagery involving one of my favorite animals, rats – but I don’t think I could go without mentioning my “Radioactive Velociraptor” – the start of my “Radioactive Dinosaur” series and what drove me to pursue t-shirt design to begin with!
Tell us about your creative process, from the beginning of a typical piece to its completion.
I generally have a pretty solid idea of what I want to make right when I think of it. Sometimes my art goes through small changes or there is the odd one out that ends up completely different from what I started with, but almost all of my designs are just things I wish I could have on a shirt. Sketching out a piece usually takes the longest since I find it tedious to go back and edit things once I’ve moved on, so I try to work out as many kinks as possible before advancing to the next stage. The rest is just lines and fiddling with color until I get something I’m satisfied with. A lot of my process is just long intervals of staring at my work, flipping it around, and in the case of t-shirt graphics, making sure it’s something I feel comfortable with asking people to pay for.
Tell us something interesting in your life (such as achievements, funny story, places traveled, etc.)
Something amazing that happened this past holiday is when my roommates all pitched in to buy me an actual 3D Printer! I wasn’t expecting anything of the sort and it absolutely blew me away, but I’m extremely excited to play around with it and see what it can do!
Image (Me and my PrintrBot):
Do you have any good advice for emerging artists?
An artist can be their own worst critic, but we wouldn’t create if there weren’t some part of it that we actually loved, too. My best piece of advice when it comes to art is don’t set out with the idea of becoming rich or famous, just create what makes you happy and other people are bound to enjoy it, too.