Abigail Larson is a popular artist among deviantart users, her style is uniquely refined, dark and inspiring. Her line work is rich and full of animation - she uses a well thought out balance of colour and texture within each piece. She uses a balance of traditional media including watercolour and digital work. I am a huge fan of her style - I love her stylistic use of line and Tim Burton-esque imagination.
1. Your style is so unique and well refined - how did you discover it?
I get that question all the time! It's a difficult question to answer, because there wasn't a time where I decided to have a style. I spent most of my time drawing from observation, and I only developed a style after studying many other graphic designers, illustrators, and fine artists who had very distinctive styles. I studied 19th century illustrators, poster designs, typography, etc. and took what I liked about those styles and learned to incorporate those things into my own artwork, giving my own twist on them.
2. I love your vignette illustrations and banners - how do you come up with the designs for each one? Do you work from references/photos or is it all imaginatively based?
Thanks! In the beginning I would buy those cheap little copyright-free design books and re-design the banners in them and put my own creepy twist on them. Now, I just invent them after years of looking at ornate French-style frames and vintage poster banners.
3. On average how long does it take you to complete a fully coloured piece with background?
Colouring the images is what takes the longest time, so a fully colored piece would take me anywhere from 5 - 7 hours.
4. How would you describe your own perfect work environment?
I have it already! I'm surrounded by all my wonderful creepy things, my antique furniture, and all of my equipment.
5. How often do you sketch normally? Would you increase it if you could?
I sketch every day! Whenever a thought pops into my head, I make sure there is a sketchbook on hand, so I can scribble it out. I'd of course like to spend all my time sketching and painting, but there really isn't enough time in the day!
6. Your work is always so beautifully detailed and full of content, where do you take inspiration from?
I spend loads of time just going out and observing everything around me. I just about grew up in museums and antique shops, so I've always appreciated a space full of interesting things to look at, and I try to bring that into my artwork. It's kind of like hide and seek - the more I draw, the more there is to look at and find.
7. Do you ever experience artist block? If so how do you usually tackle it?
Any artist who claims they don't get artists block is just flat out lying. Seriously, no one can do something 24/7 and not get sick of it, or at least get stuck. When it hits me, I try to step back and wait it out by doing something completely different, such as all the cleaning I've been neglecting, or read or watch something. I'll also look through art books or go to galleries, museums, and concerts to feel inspired.
8. You're clearly both a talented traditional and digital artist, have you ever had any formal instruction in either?
Yes, I was classically trained in drawing and painting, but also learned typography, graphic design, photography, digital painting, and illustration in high school and college. I melded digital and traditional drawing because I love touching my drawing and paints, but I also love the finished, flat look of digital coloring.
9. I adore your circus inspired pieces, as a huge cirque fan myself - is there a particular troupe/show you enjoy?
You know, for all my love of the circus, I've never been to a circus! I really just enjoy fairs and burlesque shows. Having lived in a city there are endless opportunities to see the bizarre arts, and I enjoy every kind of street and stage performance.
10. Do you have a favourite artist or book writer/film director?
Of course! I love Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, Arthur Rackham, tony DiTerlizzi, Gris Grimly, Kay Nielsen, and countless others. I of course love classic literature, and my favorite writers are the gothic poets and novelists such as Shelley, Stoker, and Bronte, as well as Poe and Lovecraft (of course!) For film I'm much more picky. I love Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Torro, but my favorite films are classic horror and suspense movies from the 30's - 70's
11. -And lastly! Do you have any advice for a budding illustrator aiming to enter the industry?
There is so much to tell aspiring illustrators, but the advice I give every artist is to not create art for everyone, but make art that you enjoy and have fun making, and practice like crazy every day. Create a style completely unique to you, and market it to companies you want to work for. Don't be shy, and don't give up! Reach out for every possible opportunity with potential clients and other creative people. It's a tough and competitive field, but it also changes constantly, so the opportunities are endless as long as you work hard at it, like anything in life!