SontrowaArts is a Florida-based freelance artist and cosplay aficionado. Specializing in bright, playful colors and expressive characters SontrowaArts has brought the charm of his work to everything from tee shirts to book covers. This month I have the honor of interviewing him to learn more about his journey and influences as a creator.
How long have you been interested in your craft?
Drawing is something that I've held on to since elementary school. I would be bored in class and would express myself through doodles. The earliest thing I remember drawing like this was some hairy multi eyed monsters I'd come up with.
How did you get started?
Mostly as a way of keeping focused in my own way. I could remember what the teacher was saying because I could relate the lesson in my head with whatever doodle I was doing at the time. Then I'd share my drawings with friends, especially when I started doing fanart.
In a more professional sense, I started doing freelance paid work by simply drawing what I liked, experimented some, and shared it around. My first paid work was from the wife of a co-worker who had seen my page through her husband and asked if I'd draw his Final Fantasy 14 character. There were definitely some lessons learned in that first experience about timing, pricing, and detail.
What sources had the biggest influence on your style?
Being a child of the 90's, anime was breaking in on day time tv in force. Digimon and the pokemon games had a big influence. Especially Ken Sugimori's watercolor images for Pokemon. I would borrow shapes and features from those titles and apply those elsewhere. Then I got big into Ranma 1/2 by Rumiko Takahashi and that, along with Dragonball and Megaman, helped influence my style at the time. In more modern influences, artists like Loish with her wonderful sense of color and linework as well as Disney artist Brian Kisinger have made a large impact on my design choices.
Do you think any of your influences might surprise people?
I think it may surprise some people that less and less of the work I absorb is from entertainment media I enjoy and more directly from individual artists. Popular media is great for lending passion and inspiration, but studying different individuals works really helps an artist grow and understand, and even appreciate skill on a technical level.
What's the biggest hurdle you've had to overcome as a creator?
The biggest is one that keeps showing up wearing a different mask. The fear of "ruining" my work. For example, years and years ago I remember making a featureless posed body form with decent weight and shape. I was so proud at having made a good looking human form that I left it blank. I was afraid to even try to put features on it. Cut to years later. I'm drawing people and animals and scenes in pencil and shading with a nub, but I was terrified at the prospect of adding color for fear of ruining all the work I'd put in. I've since gotten over that fear, but there are always hurdles to that show up that I'll get over.
What resources have you found most beneficial to your growth as an artist?
Taking some drawing courses at the community college definetly didn't hurt. More readily accessible are resources such as gesture drawing websites like https://line-of-action.com/practice-tools/figure-drawing that have stock photos for anatomy practice as well as timers for warm ups. Reference is important, and practicing with these often have really helped to build my mental library.
Have there been any tools that you just couldn’t live without after discovering them?
It may seem simple, but image hosting sites with tags like Pinterest have been an incredibly useful tool when gathering up reference images that I can collect bits and ideas from. Especially when working on book covers.
If you could meet any artist living or dead who would it be and why?
I'd really like to meet Don Bluth. He's got an incredibly distinctive sense of style and movement in his animation and I'd love to pick his brain on it.
What's the funniest thing you've ever been asked to make?
I got a request out of the blue to do Taserface from Guardians of the Galaxy, as there apparently isn't a whole lot of fan art of the character. They specifically wanted him in a similar style to Skottie Young. He's a fun goofy character and it was an enjoyable challenge to emulate a more wild style than I'm used to.
What does your craft mean to you?
Joy. Whether I'm drawing something I enjoy for myself, or drawing for someone else and getting to see a smile spread on their face when they see something they're passionate about realized. It's like a gift I can share to anyone.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you?
Well, apart from creating things on paper, or a digital canvas, I also do cosplay and build props. I have fun creating and it seems foam and fabric are another way I've found to do that. I've made staves from DragonAge and facial implants from Star Wars. I've even built my own lightsaber from plumbing parts, to name a few things.
SontrowaArts can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Discord.
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