Thursday, November 11, 2010

Manon Art - mini-interview

When I first met Manon, she was sketching incredibly detailed gory and scary werewolves at a comic convention. I was intrigued that such gross images could come from such a beautiful and charming young woman- there is Clearly a lot more to this artist than meets the eye! Her recent work explores historical and mythological subjects close to my heart, as well as some cute horror and very lovely erotic mystical ladies. I asked Manon to tell me a little more about her work.

How do you describe your work?
It is a mixture of fantasy and realism. It fits into two areas really - traditional portraits, fine art and fantasy/horror illustration which is mainly painted digitally in photoshop or painter (if painter behaves!)

What or who helped/ or inspired you to become an artist ?

I can't remember my first inspiration since I actually started making marks and scribbling when very young.  For some reason i've always had the desire.  But when very young, cartoons would definitely make me then want to go and draw afterwards, and then later on, any classic fantasy movies like Sinbad or Jason and the Argonauts with the fantastic Ray Harryhousen monsters in them would get my imagination going.  I think they were responsible for my love of fantasy art and subjects.

Did you receive any formal art education? If so was it a good or bad experience?

Yes and no! I went through the usual GCSE's and A-Levels at school, but they were fairly restricted - how do you mark art? Since art is soo subjective and it all depends on who is looking at your work, it is not really a very reliable way of measuring someones 'talent' or skill sets.  I think all school based art should be classics and basics - leave the abstract art until you can paint from life first.  That is something they are tending to get wrong at art school.  I remember a student of illustration showing me his work and i asked if he had done any life drawing classes and he said there were none... on his ilustration course!!  I did a year's art foundation course which i did not find useful as they were not interested in what I wanted to paint - they wanted to produce more conceptual artists, they didn't seem to encompass all art areas and certainly they deemed my 'traditional' approach a bit dull.  For anyone wanting to get into fantasy art I would tell them to join as many life drawing classes as possible and draw from life as much as possible - the best fantasy art has a basis in classical drawing techniques and fundamental skills.

Do you make a living from your work? do you do other work if so what and how do you manage the different activities? 
I do, although it is not easy.  I have done two jobs at once in the past, but find it very hard to be inspired if i am doing a 'normal' job along side my creative work.  I tend to consider my portrait work as the 'bread and butter' work and the fantasy work as the thing I really love and want to do all the time.  Animal portraits are very easy, and therefore not particularly creative! 

What is your inspiration?
 I am inspired by old myths and legends - particularly feisty females or femme fatale's from ancient stories.  Any classic fairytale or parable is just aching to be drawn.  Beowulf is one which I hope to have a go at in the near future.  I also can't fail to mention my favourite horrible beasties like Werewolves and Vampires - favourite subjects of mine.  Artists who inspire me are MANY.  The Pre-Raphaelites including JW Waterhouse and Alma Tadema, Degas, Van Gogh, Mogdigliani, Gustav Klimt, Turner and SO many others.  

What are you working on now?

 A great project doing the cover for Murky Depths magazine, but I can't disclose the subject matter! I am also working on a book idea with Kev Crossley which is very exciting. 
Manon has also just told me that she is  " doing Q&A for imagineFX ! it Should be going into issue 66 - just doing two Q&A sessions in the magazine! :) - won't say what i'll be doing though... that would be telling! "

In an ideal world what work would you be doing?

Oooh, designing monsters/creatures for movies? I would love to be involved in that at some point - but I am doing what I want to be doing, I am very lucky. 

What is your biggest frustration as an artist?
Not enough time and somtimes not feeling the inspiration - which you have to work though regardless of what kind of thing you are painting. 
What is your biggest pleasure in art? What keeps you going?
My biggest pleasure is probably creating something which has surpassed all my previous efforts. Every now and then there will be a piece of work which I will always enjoy going back to.  Also when I see how happy my work makes people - I can't get away from how good that makes me feel. The other pleasure is getting an audible reaction to something really gross I've drawn.  Hugely satisfying!!  

Have you a preferred medium ? If so what is it and why?

This is a really tricky one!! For my fantasy work i think i prefer digital because it is sooo flexible and means i can do things fast which would otherwise take me a very long time in traditional media.  However, nothing quite beats getting the oil paints out and creating something full of energy on a huge canvas. 

What sort of hours do you work at your art?
Probably on average 8hrs a day - and that will often include weekends.  Some days I will do longer, and other day shorter - the joys of being self employed!!  I tend to work better later in the day than early though, so usually don't start my day till 9.30 or 10. 

What is your studio or working space like ?
At the moment its very small and just consists of me and my computer, and my canvas/oils set up is in a spare room in the house which is not ideal because I can't make a mess, but it does me fine for the moment. 

What else other than art is important in your life?
My friends and family and dancing!

Where can people see and buy your lovely work?
You can see my work on my website at and buy prints through it and make commissions - there are also links for other places you can view my art through my site. 

 Thankyou Manon!

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