"Sketching from the Imagination: Dark Arts” artist Jana Heidersdorf spooks us silly with her creepy creations and offers some invaluable insights into working as a professional artist...
3dtotal: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you, what do you do, and where are you located?
I'm an illustrator working on the dark side of the fantasy genre. My art ends up on and in books, but also in comics or TV. Since graduating from a smallish private art school in Germany nearly three years ago, I've been working freelance from my current home in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. But after living a hermit life of focusing on my work I'm now ready to rejoin society and am planning on relocating to Berlin.
This is one of my favorite interior illustrations I had the opportunity to create for the Cemetery Dance Edition of Owen King's and Stephen King's "Sleeping Beauties”
3dt: Tell us about your art and the things you like to make.
I draw creepy things. Creepy, beautiful things. Someday I want my art to become a beast so captivating that when it is about to devour you whole, your only wish will be to have been able to catch one more glimpse of its majesty. For now I'll be happy as long as I get to draw twisted trees and hands with lots of atmosphere and ornamental organic shapes woven in.
The Month of Fear is an art challenge happening every October. This artwork is inspired by the prompt 'Howl'
3dt: How did you get into art? What, or who, were your big influences?
I've always used drawing as an easy way to delight myself, friends and family. In eighth grade I decided I wanted to become a comic artist, but once I had started art school I was surrounded by more creative people and diversified my influences, with the discovery of Golden Age illustration and the contemporary fantasy illustration community leading my path in a new direction.
I love book cover illustration. This one is for Clarence L Harper IV's novel "On Both Banks”
3dt: Apart from than other forms of art, what do you draw inspiration from?
Recently I've started to learn Swedish and find endless joy in drawing connections between the new vocabulary and the languages I am already familiar with. It doesn't translate directly into my artworks the way my interest in the weird ways of nature does, but not all inspirations are obvious. Many times it can be the small and mundane things we absorb near unconsciously that somehow find new meaning on paper.
As my graduation project I illustrated Grimm's fairytale "The Seven Ravens.” This is the cover artwork
3dt: How do you create your art? What software or tools do you use or prefer?
My favorite software is pencils. Especially the very soft and dark ones, the 6Bs and 8Bs. While I enjoy the possibilities and comfort Photoshop
and my ancient Wacom tablet provide me with, the core of my work still tends to me analogue. Sometimes I create pencil drawings with subtle digital coloration, sometimes I make a mess in acrylics and charcoal and hope that Photoshop magic can save it.
3dt: What new skills, techniques or software would you like to learn in the future?
Recently I've taken up digital painting again. In secret, so nobody can see my embarrassing studies. It's not really a new skill, but one that I have stopped developing several years ago. I'm trying to catch two birds with one stone by also practicing painting in color. It's a weakness I've managed to get around so far, but it's time to face it head on. After that I should probably take on architecture.
Once upon a time I meant to illustrate a series of creatures from folklore. This banshee was the first yet not quite the last.
3dt: Of all your projects, which have been the most enjoyable, and which have been the most challenging?
Last year I worked on the TV show Lore, which was both challenging and very enjoyable. It was the biggest project I had been involved in and I got to work with a team, which was really nice. When I started freelancing I thought my main goal was to be able to live off my personal work, but it turns out I really enjoy freelancing and working with others towards a common goal.
My pets made me do it. I mean they inspired me with their mischievous ways
3dt: What are your artistic ambitions?
I've started to see life goals as something luring me forward all the way towards death whether I will actually achieve them or not. They're the fantasy that keeps me hungry and striving for more. They might also a bit on the delusional side, being so ridiculously pompous, that I need to keep them privately hidden away in the folio of my mind like a naughty picture.
Another artwork created during the Month of Fear. It remains my favorite time of the year to create personal works and experiment
3dt: What advice would you give to someone who wants to embark on a career as an artist?
Don't pull overnighters. Lack of sleep can lead to serious short and long term mental and physical health problems and you want to be able to have a long and thriving career. So don't put tasks off until the last possible moment. Take deadlines seriously and make a schedule that allows you to, if possible, comfortably meet them. Time management is pretty much the most important non-artistic skill you can learn.
Supposedly this has been created for the Month of Love (happening every February) challenge for the theme 'blue'
3dt: What can we expect to see from you next? Any cool projects we should look out for?
Several weeks ago I finally brought my 100 mermaid project to a conclusion, but they still have to be turned into a book, which will keep me busy writing and sketching for a long while to come. I'm also working on a collaborative project with photographer Elena Helfrecht. We're still keeping things a bit hush-hush, but now you know! In other matters, I've heard Lore is getting a second season...
Take a look at more of Jana Heidersdorf's creepy drawings on her site
Pick up a copy of Sketching from the Imagination: Dark Arts to see Jana's sketching work, plus dozens of other great artists
Buy a prints or other fabulous home décor with Jana's work
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