Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Q + A: Natalie Andrewson

Name: Natalie Andrewson        
Age: 20
Location: Charlotte, NC // Sarasota, FL

Q: What are some of the main influences of your work? Do you have any advice for fighting creative block?

My influences are constantly changing! But the ones I’ve held on to for a long time have been Japanese prints, Folk tales and art, old thrift store photographs, Henry Darger, Paul Gauguin, childhood Yosemite memories, stories my grandmother tells, Traditional Norwegian anything, epic dreams, traveling, and turn of the century book illustrators like Ivan Bilibin, Edmund Dulac and Arthur Rackham.  Some more recent influences have definitely been more artists rather than random nostalgia (which could be bad) but those guys have been like Hugo Pratt, Jillian Tamaki, Tadahiro Uesugi, Andrew Hem, Sterling Hundley and John Hendrix (to only name a few)!

Advice for fighting creative block? Sit down with no music, no lights on- nothing to give you any kind of sensory overload and just let the images spill into your head. They totally will come too. You just have to be open to them and give yourself a breather to let them out.

Q: How and when did you first become interested in art and illustration?

I really didn’t know what illustration was until I was a senior in high school and was beginning to look at art colleges. I went to a magnet art school and it was very fine arts based and no one had really talked about illustration as a possibility. In middle school (6th-12th) I was actually told I was not allowed to make comics in class. I did them anyway, but that was a major bummer, like it was forbidden in the real art world. Throughout school I was sort of at war with myself over being a gallery artist - which I knew wasn’t my passion - so when I heard about being an illustration major I completely swooned. The idea of being able to create work for magazines and children’s books and package design was really exciting- it meant I wasn’t limited to anything and I hope I never am.

Q: What is the first thing you do when you start working? Any warm-up rituals?

Hm. Sure! I wipe my desk clean of everything - even pencil shavings, even my phone. I sit down with the absolute essentials and plan out how I’m gonna start this sucker. Its like sitting down to a game of Risk. Will I go for Brazil first? Or New Guinea. Creating a new piece is definitely a game to me…that needs constant plan re-evaluating and fresh eyes/mind every now and then.

Q: Can you briefly explain your illustration process?

I guess I answered this a little bit above but it normally includes me figuring things out on the way. The process is really different each time and I try to keep it that way. I’m not satisfied with any particular way of finishing things yet so I’m trying to experiment as much as I can.

Q: You're currently attending Ringling in Florida - what has your art school experience been thus far? Do you have any advice to students considering pursuing illustration?

I’ve really enjoyed my time at Ringling so far. There are always times when I wish I could make my own illustration program but out of all the art schools I visited Ringling, to me, was the most influential and welcoming. I’ve had the honor of having some amazing teachers who have been completely supportive and guiding, but the best teachers here have been other students. When I leave school I’m gonna be completely lost and I hope I find a creative family like the one I’ve found here. Enough of the sap- if you’re looking to be an illustrator get ready for a million choices, tons of wonderful artists that freak you out, hardcore self motivation and a completely open career that you have the freedom of molding yourself. If you’re looking for an art school- honestly, they’re all pretty great. I’m constantly finding alumni who are amazing- coming out of every school and sometimes I say to myself ‘man. If I went to SVA I could have had THAT teacher??!’ but really, you make your own awesome art experiences wherever you go. If you’re really motivated it doesn’t matter where you end up, just follow your footsteps and jump into every opportunity that scoots your way.

Q: What was your first illustration gig / Who's your dream client?

No idea. It depends on what’s considered the first ‘gig’. I sold comics when I was 12. I painted posters for chick-fil-a when I was 15. I made a logo for a dog company in high school (oh god that logo). But the first really real gig must have been last summer when a friend’s brother asked me to do design and create the artwork for an orthodontist app. for iphone. It was surprisingly professional and fun! I got to draw braces and big teeth and squirty toothpaste tubes. I learned a whoolllee lot about photoshop, making contracts, making super tight deadlines and being professional via email. All really tough things to figure out if you haven’t gone through them before. I’m glad I got it over with and now I feel comfortable talking with clients and I understand how fast I work. If you need the experience definitely ask to work with Ten Paces. It’s great practice making deadlines and emailing some professional ladies!

Dream client?! Right now… Soojin Buzelli :). She came and talked at this illustration thing we put on called Illest of Ill and now I’m seeing that all of my favorite artists have worked with her. I don’t even know what my dream job would be- maybe working in every aspect of illustration I can? I’d like to work in editorial, narrative, design, book, apparel, music, product design, and film..there’s so much more.

Q: What’s a project you’d like to work on? Is there an artist you’d like to collaborate with?

I’d love to put together something like the Anthology project with a bunch of up and coming artists. Sounds like a ton of fun and a great excuse to make more comics! The 1200 posters thing sounds awesome too! Maybe making a magazine/blog based on wild inspiration would be cool too- I guess that’s what tumblr is for though? I think collaborating with just about any artist would be incredible! right now.. two people i'd really love to collaborate with are Sam Bosma and Jillian Tamaki. I see a lot of myself in their work and think it'd be pretty cool to create with them, or just hang out sometime maybe. 

Q: What has been your favorite Ten Paces swap so far? If you had to add a theme to the line-up, what would it be?

Hm it’s gonna be a tie between the Master Copy and what I wore today swaps! To add? Maybe a show and tell swap? sweet things you'd never get rid of swap? Maybe that just gives away that i'm a total hoarder. 

Q: What are some of your favorite things to do outside of making awesome illustrations?

I like to go thrifting! Finding cool things with stories behind them and writing down their histories (I mostly make them up). In Charlotte I live an hour away from Boone where I can skii, kayak, hike, explore, mountain climb and bike epic trails. I love spending time up there and luckily in Sarasota there are some cool places to camp and kayak as well! I really like going to the library and rummaging through the comics and children’s book sections. I get sucked away for hours doing that and it needs to happen more often.

Q: You're from North Carolina, but currently reside in Florida- What are some of your favorite things about where you live? How does your town/city inspire you?

I live in Charlotte, North Carolina when I’m not in Sarasota, FL at Ringling. I’m also sort of from San Diego, California.. I was born over there and we visited family several times a year since I was young. I think all these places I’ve lived have had a huge impact on my work. Charlotte is my home. I know it better than anywhere I’ve been, and I’m fascinated by the southern culture that seems to be fading away quickly. North Carolina is the Blue Ridge mountains, thick cicadas in the summertime, camp songs and swim team, ice storms and Canadian Goose chasing. Sarasota is still very new to me, but it’s been long, lazy afternoons on screened in porches, Spanish moss hanging wherever you look, never ending sand bars in the bay, mangrove tunnels and cookouts. San Diego, however, has had the most impact on my life. My whole senior concentration revolved around my experiences there, which have been unforgettable. San Diego is the desert, the jungle and the ocean all in one. It’s the giant eucalyptus trees hovering over you, the adobe shack we lived in, the adventures played in tall yellow grass as a child, morning doves and mist next to a hot, hot day. Hobos by the boardwalk, sand in your hair and long, stuffy trips in the motor-home up to Yosemite and Disney Land.

Q: Which of your illustrations is your favorite so far - or if you had to choose a piece from your portfolio to represent yourself, which would it be?

The Dominos piece, I call it that but it’s real name is Life Illuminated. I love it because it’s literally my life illustrated by little objects and memories. It’s the most personal piece I’ve done in a while. It also happens to be the one they say to take out when they’re looking at my portfolio.  

Q: What are you currently working on? Do you have any new and exciting projects coming up? 

I’m currently working on an 8 page comic for my teacher, George Pratt, along with a book project about a place in Sarasota where I have to interview and collect enough information to create a little personal guide of the place. I’m doing it on a whole neighborhood.. which I’m not even sure is allowed, but I’m loving it so far- it has a lot of history. I’m working on getting an internship this summer and I’ll be attending ICON7 as a student volunteer in June!

Q: Is there anything else we should know about you, or your illustration work? 

My dream is to re-make my world/planet idea from middle school- it'd be so weird and i'd never have time for it. i drew out all of the continents, what people looked like in each area, their language, and stories to go with them.  I don’t know if I’d go so in-depth but it’d be great to revive it in some way. Reviving the middle school comics would be awesome and terrible as well. Sheesh- okay I’m done!

Check out more of Natalie's work on her website, and blog. Follow Natalie on Twitter for updates!


  1. this is so awesome! very inspiring!