Illustratioin Interview with Rebecca Green

Rebecca recently graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration. She works in many different forms, from commercial work to gallery work, to community events and workshops. Green focus lie primarily in painting and drawing, but also work as a three-dimensional artist.

In her work, Green tries to portray the potential good that lies in everyone.  She combines her love for art and her love for animals, somehow bringing them together to further educate, explore, and ultimately end the exploitation of our earthling neighbors.

1. What inspired you to be an illustrator? 

Hmm, Well I have always been artistic and knew I wanted to go into art after highschool. I thought a lot about illustration, mainly because I loved the different styles, I loved stories, I loved small drawings that contained a lot of life. I started college with a direction in Graphic Design, because it was more stable of a career path, I loved typography, and I was able to work digitally with layouts, concepts, etc.
I found though, that all of my design projects centered around illustrations I would create. I decided to do a double major, but loved illustration so much that I dropped the GD, getting only a minor in it.
Illustration is a funny thing though, because I spend just as much time doing ‘fine art’ work, in galleries, and markets. None of my best work is for a client.

2.What artist do you personally admire?  Also, when did you receive your first client?  What was that experience like?

Well, as far as influences go, when I was younger, I was amazed by Normal Rockwell, Joan Miro, Andrew Wyeth..a lot of older fine artists. These days, I am influenced by Natalie Ascencios, Susy Pilgrim Waters, Edwina White, Andrew Hem, and tons more. I am borderline obsessed with Red Nose Studios, run by Chris Sickels. His work is amazing, and I met him in LA last summer. Such a nice guy…I thought I was going to faint when I saw him. haha. His work is so cool. 

As far as client work, I think I got my actual first job when I was in my..sophomore yr of college. A peer in the design dept was going into business with her mother, designing these clip cover things that go on badges. I designed  Santas! haha. I did all sort of drawings for them, but it was kind of a ridiculous venture. At the time, they didn’t want to let anyone know what they were doing, so I handed in these completely rendered, finished pieces, which unknown to me where then taken and made digitally flat. It could have saved them money, and me time. I wasn’t paid a lot, I think like $12 a figure. I can’t find anything from them since 2008 so Im guessing the business didn’t take off. Then, I didn’t have contracts, invoices, a website or anything, so I feel like I’ve come a long way in the past 3 years. 
3.We had/have to take foundation classes and required courses that fall under our major.  Did you have to do the same?  What was college like for you? 
OK..Required Courses…yes, we did have to do them. I hated still life. haha. 
I kind of squirreled my way around a lot of stuff I didn’t want to do, like color theory (that I swapped for a printmaking class) or film photography (that I switched with a digital course bc I couldn’t afford photo supplies) or Portfolio II (which I switched for sci-fi painting and learned grisaille painting.) 
The professors weren’t sticklers once a student showed them they were willing to be self motivated and that sometimes they could get better work out of different classes. That being said, I did take a lot of required and foundation classes, like life drawing,  art history, foundation design classes, sculpture, etc. We also had to take writing, science, math, and political science classes. 
All in all, I’d say I wouldn’t trade my college experience for anything, but of course I have my complaints about the school. 
Here’s the good:
– It’s important, I think, to not only learn in school, but just to be able to take that time to develop in yourself and understand your skills better. Its the time devoting to it (instead of working a reg job right away) that I think is the most beneficial.
– In school, I studied in not only the illustration dept, but the graphic design dept and the fine art drawing dept. I met a ton of people, teachers, etc, who I am still in contact with. They are great resources, and friends…I built up a pretty solid community in school, which is beneficial.  
– A lot of the professors were really a big part of my improvement in college. Some of them would attend outside events I was part of, and they were helpful in letting me take independent study courses with them. I also had an outside studio and they weren’t pissed that I didn’t come to class everyday. I brought in work, and worked on real projects my last year of school, so they just kind of let me do my thing…of course with critiques and suggestions.
Here’s the bad:
-There were a lot of politics in the illustration dept. There was a clear divide between realistic painting teachers and stylized teachers. The chair of the program has been there forever and teaches only photo-realism, and is basically passing people through, patting everyone on the back. There were no critiques in his classes. He made everyone work on a projector…trace the project and fill in. Paint by number. I hated it! He’s a great guy…terrible teacher.. We needed someone young, and fired up about the field..someone who had experience beyond painting watercolors for hospital hallways. (sorry if this sounds a bit heated, haha) He and I had plenty heated arguments once I stopped painting realistically. I just felt that I had to follow what I really wanted, which obviously, wasn’t photorealism. I stopped attending his classes, and from there tried to do my own thing..make my own schedule. There were a couple of other teachers that really supported thinking outside of the box, teachers that were young and excited about illustration, some that were older and equally excited. I just tried to surround myself around these people. It worked out I suppose. 🙂
I just think when I started school, I believed everything the teachers said. But then as I began to learn from different sources, I began to kind of form my own ideas of my work, and when they started conflicting with what I had learned from my professors, I just continued to do work that I wanted to do.
3.How do you keep yourself inspired? 
Keeping myself inspired…I look at different magazines, read books (art and non-art related). Try to learn about new things..take time not creating. Im kind of a that I don’t know pop culture. I don’t have TV, I don’t surf the web, or read the papers. I am a hermit. haha. But I think that’s why there’s no time reference in my work. 
So I send a lot of time just watching out for little details in people, old buildings and architecture, animals, colors..all that. When I get an artist block, I take a break from my studio and look at other people’s work, that usually fires something. It can be frustrating sometimes to have to work to pay your bills when your not inspired…But Id rather be doing that than cleaning toilets. haha
4.What was it like during your final semesters of college?  Nervous?  Overwhelming?
My final semesters..
I think I was very ready to get out actually. I wanted to start working, start getting jobs. I wanted to see if I could do it. I felt at times that I didn’t want to do school projects because some of them, I thought to be a waste of time. I don’t know yet if they were. haha. But like I said, a lot of my teachers let me use my outside commissions for class projects, so I was getting a grade and getting paid (a little) at the same time. 
I graduated in December which was weird, because I didn’t actually walk in the ceremony until May. I felt a little disconnected with my class at the end, and since I spent a lot of time in my studio alone working, I didn’t feel the camaraderie that I had once hoped for. 
Then I graduated and felt very alone. haha. its weird not seeing those people everyday. Not having someone always there to give you feedback. So take advantage of it now, it’s a lot different when you’re through. 

This interview experience has been an awesome opportunity.  I honestly had my doubts at first, thinking that it would be extremely difficult.  But Rebecca has been really awesome with giving honest feed back to the questions.  Also she made it a interesting experience.  Thanks Rebbecca and hope to see more of your work soon! -Ric Evans


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