Why Have an All Women Art Show?

Interview by David Luong, gallery curator | July 3rd, 2018

 Foreground art on canvas prints by  Nicole Yang  for the "Women of Art" exhibition, on display from May through July 2018.

Foreground art on canvas prints by Nicole Yang for the "Women of Art" exhibition, on display from May through July 2018.

 
 

Many have asked me this question…

Being a minority in several categories myself, I find it very refreshing to be able to see something that's out of the norm in the art gallery scene.  So naturally, I gravitated towards wanting to celebrate humanity's creativity and diversity in my current role at Photonic Playground. Exhibitions are still usually dominated by men, just like a lot of things in our society even though women make up half the population of the world.  Yet, the average work place is almost never equally populated with both men and women, causing an injustice and power imbalance as there is direct or subconscious discrimination in our society even today. As the gallery curator, who happens to also be gay and an Asian male, I've lived through my fair share of discrimination brought on by the world.

And so I wanted to bring to light how many extraordinary women surround me who deserve every bit of attention equally to their male counterparts. 'Women of Art', our inaugural exhibition along side The LGBT Center of Orange on 4th street, aimed to be a celebration of artists who happen to be women. They will inspire current and new generation of artists to come who may have been struck down some time during their life that they can't be an artist or that they can't get to that great height in their career because they happen to be a female. Some have even asked, "Well why should we give attention to an all female show, don't they get enough attention?" Honestly, no...no they haven't. There's still so much disparity in balance between men and women, such as work salary, respect, and social support that women or anyone is entitled in equality regardless of gender.

In our first Photonic Playground interview article, I asked a few of the artists in this show about their thoughts on the zeitgeist of art and about their viewpoints on how things have progressed.

The closing show to their works will be Saturday, July 7th, 2018 from 7-10pm at Photonic Playground in downtown Santa Ana.

 
 
Having a moment to celebrate a group of accomplished women artists all together at the same time really highlights the level of skill happening in the female artist community. There are no comparisons being made based on gender here.
— Rachel Day
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First, thank you all for being a part of this exhibition. I wanted to start off by asking you all to tell me a little bit of your self.  What was it that made you want to get into your line of work as an artist?

 

Rachel Day: I've always loved video games. It was the only constant in my life. I was constantly changing hobbies and goals from dancing, acting, psychology, graphic design, I finally ended up choosing my career in video games. I really enjoy logic and problem solving as well as creating artwork and animations, VFX was the perfect intersection of my art brain and logic brain. 
Michaela Nienaber: I drew a lot as a kid and meandered around in college until deciding on entertainment/environment art.
Careena Kingdom: Ever since I watched Disney films as a child, I have always wanted to be an animator. While studying traditional film animation in Australia, I was working as a manager for a local game store and suddenly had a moment of realization. While there were limited options within film animation, there were many more for an animator within the gaming industry and as luck would have it there were several game studios close by. This was when I decided to switch my career focus from film animation to game animation.
Kimberly LeCrone: On the professional side of things, I got into my current line of work at Blizzard as an evolution of my roles within the entertainment industry. Initially, I worked in art departments for film and TV, and after some time, I thought to move towards Blizzard Entertainment because I'd had my fill of travel and live-action sets. Since I'd maintained a longstanding interest in games, it seemed like a great career direction! After over 6 years as a Community Manager at Blizzard, I transitioned to a more creative role within Blizzard Video/Cinematics that I've been in for the past 3 years that more deeply leverages my experience in the cinematic arts and love for storytelling. It's a great fit that combines many of my interests, and I love being able to work on big, team-based projects at work, and then to still have the freedom to go home and work on my personal art and writing!
Rebecca Kimmel: I became interested in teaching art when in college, having been inspired by my college teachers. After teaching college for a few years in the Los Angeles area, I decided to open my own business, Korpus School of Art, catering mainly to students seeking acceptance to art colleges around the country.
Patty Earp: Growing up witnessing the beautiful creations in the film and gaming industry always held a special type of wonder for me: the things one could create from imagination was such a magical experience, I would constantly get lost in thoughts of how these stories were told and the process that would follow. So, my first introduction into this field of work was through story boarding, and my love for the production process has since grown into so many different direction of production: there's such a wonderful world of creatives out there!
Nicole Yang: Currently I am running an art school, teaching at CSUF (Cal State University of Fullerton), and freelancing on the side. It's a LOT but I truly enjoy my work, especially teaching. I love watching my students grow and seeing the moments where things just "click". Being around them all, especially the younger ones really inspire me in my own work.
Janice Chu: I didn't really know concept art was an actual job title but I always wanted to do something that involved drawing a lot of props. By 3rd year I figured out what that title was called and decided to pursue that. 
Mia Araujo: I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never wanted to be anything else! 
Julia Blattman: I knew I wanted to be an artist ever since I first watched The Little Mermaid as a little kid and eventually realizing there were actual people behind making such magic! I wanted to create something like that. During college, I explored a lot of different art styles and genres, my artistic taste changed a lot over those years and I eventually found that visual development art for animation was the best fit for what I liked to do. 

 

 

Why do you feel it was important to have an all women's art show and to be a part of it?

 

Day: Having a moment to celebrate a group of accomplished women artists all together at the same time really highlights the level of skill happening in the female artist community. There are no comparisons being made based on gender here. Taking away that extra element, that subconscious pre-bias based on gender, really lets you enjoy the art on the wall for exactly what it is. 
Nienaber: I think it's great for inspiring other women and young girls, and just drawing more attention to the work/celebrating it.
Kingdom: I have noticed that the amount of women in the games industry has grown dramatically over the last decade and exhibitions such as this proves just how diverse and talented women artists are now within the industry. When I first started out in games development, I was one of only a handful of women on a team composed literally of hundreds of men, and it was the first time in my life that I quite honestly encountered such a gender imbalance. Throughout my time in education the women to men ratio was noticeably equal, to the point that I really didn’t think about it. Working in gaming however, especially ten years ago, it was rare to encounter another female face on the floor, and this was definitely a shock to experience first-hand. An all women’s art show is a wonderful encouragement to young girls who might be thinking about entering the industry. It showcases amazing talent and demonstrates that whatever your artistic or creative passion is, there is a place for it in games development. 
LeCrone: I think it's important on a number of fronts. For one, in general I've found women to be underrepresented in galleries through the years, and by having so many women artists represented in one place, I feel it shows a sizable amount of diversity in both style and subject matter. Likewise, it offers the opportunity to showcase women in art that might not otherwise have had the opportunity.
Kimmel: I think because the art world still tends to be male dominated, despite the fact that art college students tend to be majority female, it's important to highlight specifically the work of female artists. There are so many incredible women artists in the world who are often overlooked. It's great to be able to highlight the diversity and strength of women's art. 
Earp: Please understand this is just my opinion, as I am very happy there is a gallery that is exclusively dedicated to women in the creative industry; I personally believe there should be an equal amount of humans involved in the art world, not just women specifically. There are so many different types of creative humans on this little piece of dirt floating in the vast universe, to fight over something so trivial as one inequality over another makes no sense to me. Humans should celebrate creativity as an entity, enjoying the process and mindset of each individual artist rather than focus on what is missing. I do see this change in our society as a whole, starting with equalizing the gender differences in society, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the future will hold for us Homo Ludens.
Yang: It's SO important! With the world in it's current state I believe its the best time for all sexes to learn more about respect. And standing together with my fellow female artists felt not only empowering but gave me an opportunity to make new friends.
Chu: It's cool to have an all women's art show because it helps network other ladies in the art industry that we weren't aware of. So it's nice to see everyone come together showing off their awesome art stuff!
Araujo: For the majority of history, the world as we see it through the eyes of artists has been shaped by men. Only until very recently have women surged in the ranks of the underground art gallery scene, but the art world is still dominated by men in all industries. I personally want to see as many points of view as possible in the arts. 
Blattman: I've never seen an all women's art show and was beyond excited to be a part of a gallery like this! With all the recent events of female employees in the entertainment industry speaking up now more than ever, I think it's a great way for our artistic voices to be heard!

 

 Oil painting by  Careena Kingdom , on display for the "Women of Art" exhibition.

Oil painting by Careena Kingdom, on display for the "Women of Art" exhibition.

 

Harvey Weinstein. John Lasseter. Bryan Singer. Donald Trump. These are just a few people embroiled in CONTROVERSY as of late. How has the #MeToo and #TimesUp social movements affected you since it has become prolific in the media? 

 

Day: It really has! It has made me feel less alone and more aware of the people around me and how common the struggles I've felt for so long actually are. I think bringing awareness to just how common a #MeToo situation is will be the first step in helping us to stop them from happening. 
Nienaber: I wasn't surprised to be honest, as I've known friends and family who've dealt with sexual abuse. I already saw it as not uncommon sadly, but I think it's important more people realize just how prevalent an issue it is. 
LeCrone: I think the biggest thing was in feeling like I wasn't alone in some of what I've experienced over the years. Some of it has, admittedly, been the sort of stuff I don't talk about because the industry can be a frighteningly small place, but that sort of camaraderie in feeling is a good thing, and I hope the sort of sentiment that can be pushed forward so that these instances become less and less common, and instigators realize there are consequences for their actions, whether they were intentionally malicious or not. 
Kimmel: I think these are important social movements whose time has come. I have paid attention to these movements of course as they affect all women. I'm hopeful that these movements will change how women are seen and treated in the workplace and elsewhere. 
Earp: To be quite honest, it's baffled me. We read up on these statistics in schools and see it in our daily news reports, so why is this new information? Is it because we realized it's not just numbers on a statistics report? I understand the empowerment it's brought to many individuals, but there is so much more that we humans need to work on. To me, it's as if we just decided to acknowledge the smell of the elephant's excrement in the room, but still won't admit the elephant itself. Here, today, I'm writing this during the protests that are happening in Los Angeles against splitting immigrant families, but I see no protests regarding the disgusting amount of human trafficking that's going on right in our backyard. Overall, I'm happy that the human race is starting to become more self-aware, and I'm looking forward to seeing where our future takes us. 
Yang: This question is deeply personal and I'm not ready to talk about publicly. I'm okay and doing great now, but not ready speak of it yet.  
Chu: The social movements have brought up some memories that I really didn't want to remember but it was easier to talk about with trusted people. 
Araujo: I’ve had more conversations with men about sexism since then, which is a big step forward in and of itself. I think these movements have powerfully demonstrated the extent to which sexism still affects women’s lives, and awareness is the first step to any real change. 

 

 

Do you feel your work place or industry has progressed for the better against social injustice vs 5 or 10 years ago?

 

Day: Absolutely! I have never had this kind of support before. Working in a male dominated field has always been about survival. Trying to get my voice heard and my talents recognized. Now I find a lot more of my male coworkers aware of their behavior and actually helping me rather than holding me back. It has been a fantastic change. 
Nienaber: I would certainly say so, but I also feel fortunate to be in a work environment that is conscientious of making everyone feel welcomed. I can't really speak for the industry as a whole since that's a broad spectrum but I think things have been moving fast in the right direction.
Kingdom: I can say first hand that the ratio of men to women in the video games industry has dramatically changed over the last 10 years. When I first started there were maybe 3 women to 100 men. Now, my own department is 50/50, and team-wide we’re nearly 30/70 which is a huge improvement! This is a dramatic change by any standard and I believe it is due largely in part to the efforts of companies such as Blizzard Entertainment in reaching out and communicating to students about the number and diversity of roles that are available within the industry.
LeCrone: Progression is slow, but it's there. I've seen it nearly everywhere I've worked in some shape or form, though some businesses were certainly better than others. The biggest thing, I think, has been choosing to work with people and companies who make it a point to share similar ideals as I do, and who express a low tolerance for social injustice. I think it's incredibly important to speak up when you see something, and to likewise try and surround yourself with quality people that want to push back against social injustice.
Kimmel: I do not feel as though there is equality in terms of hiring practices in the field of education. Art colleges are still male dominated in terms of teaching positions, though the majority of art students are female. I think that this issue needs to be addressed as there are plenty of talented women and teachers in the arts.
Earp: To be quite honest, I'm not sure! I've dipped out of my line of work for a couple of years due to medical complications, and I haven't been back since this whole movement started. I will say I've noticed a positive change in similar environments; studios are more open minded for their "blockbuster" recipes, there are way more people getting recognized for their creative differences and even more of an audience for individual creativity. It's been very encouraging for me, for when I left this industry it was creative cannibalism. I'm looking forward to returning, whereas before I was extremely reluctant.
Yang: In some ways, yes. I've always felt that being in the field of arts had certain liberties in terms of gender. I never really felt like I was being "held back" because I identified with a certain sex. However, I do know many who do feel this way so I know we have a long way to go. But after this last year, I do believe people are listening and changing for the better.
Chu: I feel like the work place is getting better but there are still a lot of women who don't want to speak up about being "hit on" or harassed and that they consider it to have become the "norm" in a male dominant workplace.

 

 Acrylic paintings on display by  Mia Araujo  for the "Women of Art" exhibition.

Acrylic paintings on display by Mia Araujo for the "Women of Art" exhibition.

 

In your experience, are women equally represented in art galleries as men are?

 

Day: Absolutely not. More often than not when I go in to a gallery, it is the works of male artists being displayed. I always find myself surprised when I see something with a feminine name attached to it. 
Nienaber: I'm not that aware of the gallery scene, but growing up near PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art), I saw shows featuring women and at least for me personally, never felt any kind of divide. However, that's due just to very limited personal experience.
LeCrone: In general, no. I think it's getting better, but I I think there have been a lot of stigmas against women in the past and even in the present, and that it will take time to break down those walls and show more gallery representation. Shows like this are a great start.
Kimmel: No.
Earp: I believe galleries don't care about the gender of who is the creative, they look more for how they use one's creativity. On the flip side, I believe there isn't enough knowledge surrounding artists in general, let alone female ones. We've been taught what the previous few generations have decided to pass down, and as the non-creative people are in charge of distributing our information to the future generations, they probably don't even know how to look into this information. Schools and the politics following it are becoming more and more obsolete; so I'd like to believe this evolution from sapiens to ludens will lead us to a better future.
Yang: I'm not too familiar with the gallery scene, but I suppose as I sit and really consider it, I've been to a few more prominently male shows than female. Although it doesn't tip the scale by much.
Chu: Yes, I believe so. Depending on the galleries. A lot of the pop culture galleries I've been in seem to represent women pretty well.
Araujo:  Luckily in the underground art scene, such as pop surrealism, female artists have been headlining shows and amassing collectors and followers for the past decade, and it’s been amazing to watch. Unfortunately, the ‘high brow’ gallery world is still dominated by men, so work remains to be done.

 

 

 

There are multiple layers to this issue, and to give a real-world example, in comics, if all the stories that were told were of straight, middle class white males and the hero’s journey, it sets up a certain narrative expectation that is very limiting.
— Kimberly LeCrone

 

 

 

Are there some things that you feel could change in the art world to give better representation to underrepresented groups?

 

Day: More shows like this that focus on and celebrate a specific group! Taking away the added pressure and bias really helps to simply celebrate the art.
Nienaber: I wish art was more accessible. I believe that economic background has some say in whether or not people nowadays can pursue the arts professionally. For many kids past a certain age, devoting energy to art can be perceived as a waste of time rather than preparation for one's future.
Kingdom: Larger amounts of diverse groups working together. I don’t think you can rely on the infrastructure to change the issue, you need to have that diverse presence to create that content.
LeCrone: One of the big things that could offer better representation to underrepresented groups is showing diversity in not only the artists themselves, but the content of their work.  There are multiple layers to this issue, and to give a real-world example: in comics, if all the stories that were told were of straight, middle class white males and the hero's journey, it sets up a certain narrative expectation that is very limiting. I think it's important to show diversity in not only the stories we're telling and the art we're creating, but to also elevate the diverse artists and creators behind the scenes. One of the struggles I sometimes have in galleries is that just seeing the artist's name beneath a piece doesn't give me a sizable idea of who they were as a person. That context can mean so much, and I think it would be wonderful if the art world could work to peel back the veil a bit and let us learn more about the artists behind the work. Galleries offering easily accessible information to this end would be fantastic. 
Kimmel: I think that shows like Women of Art are great ways to highlight women's artistic contributions. Ultimately it boils down to women also running galleries themselves and focusing on women artists. 
Earp: Of course! The arts are being choked out of our current culture, creativity in general is considered a waste of money by everyone except the creatives. I believe the first thing we need to do is reintroduce the different types of arts back into our public schools, not just hold the bare minimum. To be honest, if I'm going this route, I might as well go big and say our educational systems need to chill on their overall costs. If everyone had an equal opportunity towards education, we humans could solve so many of these current problems as a collective rather than relying on the small few who've had that wonderfully expensive education. And we're seeing how that's turning out currently. 
Yang: Such a hard question, shows like the all female show we had are a great start. I hope more and more galleries are following suit and being more open minded in content, especially in the backgrounds of the artists they represent.
Chu: No, I feel like it's up to the individual to work hard and make them stand out. It's about how hard you work to get your art out there.
Araujo: Visibility is huge. ‘If she can see it, she can be it’ not only applies to female artists, but also to artists of color and LGBTQ+ artists. Share their work on social media, buy their work, support their Patreon pages, invite them to shows and lectures, and most importantly, share their work with aspiring artists. Seeing successful artists who look like them is a powerful way to inspire the next generation of artists.
Blattman: I hope there will be more female directors and other female leads in the entertainment industry in the near future. 

 

 

What are some of the things you do in your everyday art that personally is fulfilling to you and why?

 

Day: In my at-work art, I'm very happy to help the games I make feel impactful and visceral. Having that tactical impact on the combat of a game is so satisfying. On my artwork at home, I feel like I truly get to bring a vision in my head to life. A tangible, intricate costume and then a photo shoot that brings it to the environment I dreamed up as well. Its the whole, complete fulfilling picture and I am so fortunate to share those experiences with other passionate creators. 
Nienaber: I have preferred subject matter and tend to just putz around in that sandbox. I draw a lot of figures interacting, or animals and I find it to be a nice way to relax after painting or drawing at work.
Kingdom: Something that is important to me is character driven emotion and story. Whether its animation, oil painting or even puppetry, I love imbuing my characters with personality that the audience can pick up on.
LeCrone: I think the biggest thing is the freedom to allow myself to try new things and not worry too much about what my audience wants to see. I've spent a few years limiting the fan art I create, and I feel it's allowed me to explore new and original ideas I may not have considered otherwise. Likewise, I've tried to explore new materials: everything from sculpture, molding and casting resin pieces, woodworking, and all varieties of painting and illustration. Being able to bounce around between real media and digital media has been a breath of fresh air, and it's been really fulfilling to try new things and see how I can leverage different combinations in my craft to expand what I can create.
Kimmel: I personally love to draw the figure gesturally and that will probably always remain the source of my creative fulfillment. 
Earp: To me, art is something that my brain has to do. I have too many ideas for my head to hold, and drawing or painting them is somewhat of a way for me to process these ideas. Once I've got these images or ideas onto paper/canvas/whatever material i can get my hands on, then my mind can let go and I can move onto something else. If I can't get these ideas out of my head, then my brain will get overburdened with excessive thoughts and essentially leave me a bitter mess. It seems very much like a love-hate relationship between my brain and I! 
Yang: This goes back to the first question where I find the greatest reward and inspiration in the students that I'm around every day. Strangely, I find myself bonding more easily with my younger students (middle school and younger) than my college students. I love their youthful outlook and innocence. Every day is full of new things and they don't carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. I think we all need to surround ourselves with something like that in our lives.
Chu: I work a lot on my own projects and share them on social media. I like to make unique worlds and if people can relate to that world or enjoy it somehow that's really awesome for me!
Araujo: I spend time doing studies every day, and try to keep up weekly life drawing sessions. Learning is something I have always been passionate about!
Blattman: I try to keep up personal work on the side of my full time job, I feel like it's a good way to not creatively burn out and keep loose. It's a good way to unwind and I try not put too much pressure on myself to create something grand. A lot of the paintings I do on the side I end up not showing anyone, but it's still nice to practice and create something instead of nothing!  I often make up my own deadlines which helps me stay motivated, such as "I have to finish this painting within an hour", etc.

 

 Illustrations by  Anh Dang , on display at the "Women of Art" exhibition.

Illustrations by Anh Dang, on display at the "Women of Art" exhibition.

 

When going to an art gallery, what are some of your favorite types of art pieces to see?

 

Day: I love looking at textiles, sculpture and furniture. Things that are in 3D space really draw me in. There is a detail around every angle of a physical piece like that. 
Nienaber: I love large scale original works, but it's hard to say to be honest. I also like being surprised by new kinds of pieces too.
Kingdom: Traditional art pieces are my favorites. I love seeing the brush strokes and trying to work out how the piece of artwork was constructed. Pieces with lots of light and motion are really appealing to me.
LeCrone: I really enjoy seeing depictions of creatures, myths and legends, in addition to snapshots of all walks of life from around the world.
Kimmel: Anything that is representational and figurative. I also enjoy representational still life, but figurative work is of the most interest to me.
Earp: To me, a gallery is a giant portfolio of what the local culture wants to share, and hopefully educate others with. The first gallery I ever went to had a huge collection of Degas studies: seeing his work in person, being able to understand his gestural strokes gave me an insight on his love of ballet dancers which in turn made me realize the art in ballet dancing. The definition of a gallery is "a room or building for the display or sale of works of art", but I believe it's an open invitation to experiencing someone's else's creativity and hopefully learning something new from their perspective :)
Yang: Anything that catches my eye in a unique way. Usually bright contrasting colors and values will pull me in and strong narratives will keep my engaged.
Chu: I like to see unique pieces of artwork. Things that I've never seen or art that takes things outside of the box. 
Araujo: The pieces that take my breath away in person either have a sense of scale that sucks me into the world inside the painting, or convey a strong emotion or mood that connects me to the artist and their storytelling. These are things that I strive for in my own work.
Blattman: I love it when I see the artist's thought process and decision making through their medium- brush strokes, faint sketch lines, how fast you can tell their pen was moving, how carefully they chose a color to vibrate with another. I like it when a piece has a certain distinct mood to it that's easy to pick up even from across the room. 

 

 

 

As long as you are making work that is true to you, none of that other stuff matters.
— Mia Araujo

 

 

 

What would be some advice you’d say to future aspiring women artists seeking to break into the professional world?

 

Day: Be persistent! Be passionate! You belong here and your contributions are worth all the effort you make.
Nienaber: To not see yourself as below an opportunity, and measure yourself against those already doing what you're aspiring towards. 
Kingdom: My advice is to chase the things you are passionate about. There are a lot of jobs in the industry that you don’t really know about until you get in. Roles and technology are changing constantly, so my advice is to follow the things that interest you.I was once given some great advice about how to choose a professional path. I was told that the difference between a job and career is that a job is something you do only because you get paid, but a career is something you do regardless of whether you get paid or not. This is how you can recognize your passion. What is it you enjoy doing? For a lot of people, this is the hardest thing to recognize.
LeCrone: I think the single biggest thing is to keep going! Keep creating, keep learning and experimenting, and keep working to hone and refine your own unique voice! Connect with those around you, and aspire to build each other up. If you're looking to break into the professional world, put your work out there prominently on social media, and showcase the type of work you'd like to be doing professionally. Apply for positions that interest you, and ones you feel are a good fit, and ensure your portfolio showcases the type of work the position requires. If it doesn't, consider trying to carve out time so that you can hone-in and strengthen your portfolio.
Kimmel: I'd say that you have to be persistent and know your goals. There are a lot of things that may seek to knock you off of your path so without a focus it will be difficult to achieve whatever goal it is that you have. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and with time you will figure out what you are best at. 
Earp: DO NOT EVER DOUBT YOURSELF! The hardest thing about the creative industry is the critics, they will pick apart every piece of your work and give you feedback you might not want to hear. If you truly are wanting to be a professional, then you must learn that every critique can be a way to either improve your artwork, your presentation, or even your demeanor. Always listen to the constructive criticism! The other types of critiques you'll receive will be a reflection of your audience's mindset, so try not to take those personally. Remember that you are a work in progress, and your art is a reflection of you! Your art, as well as your life in general, will be constantly changing: be sure to embrace it rather than deflect it.
Yang: Honestly I love being a woman, I'd never change. But I do feel some women are so hard on themselves and each other to meet unrealistic expectations. Or they fall back on their gender as a reason/excuse why they are not where they want to be. I think that is a toxic mindset to fall into. Sure, things are not equal right now. But I wake up everyday and live my life like it is. I demand equality in the way I am treated and in how I treat others. I hate when women say things like, "Oh I wont be chosen because I'm a woman" or equally "He won because he's a man". I think that's a terrible way to look at things. Regardless of what the situation actually is, I chose to believe I am equal and will never fault my shortcomings on being female.
Chu: Ask questions, don't be afraid to email professionals for advice - they may not respond right away but hopefully for the most part, they will get back to you. A lot of people I've met like to help out students, so I'm hopeful other professionals are willing to help students as well.
Araujo: Don’t be afraid of making work that is authentic. Feminine qualities are usually criticized in all aspects of life, and art is no exception. When I was in art school, I prided myself when other students mistook my work for that of a male artist, and tried to hide any feminine qualities in my work. Now I realize that authenticity is more important than any label or perception of style. As long as you are making work that is true to you, none of that other stuff matters.
Blattman: As women, we have to stick up for one another in this industry. You can achieve anything you set your mind to, don't let anyone hold you back from it. 

 

 Figure drawings by  Rebecca Kimmel , on display for the "Women of Art" exhibition.

Figure drawings by Rebecca Kimmel, on display for the "Women of Art" exhibition.

 

Finally, a somewhat more relaxing question to end things. Please name a few other artists that inspire you and why?

 

Day: Jolien Rosanne (Fairytas). She has a very unique way of making incredible fantastical imagery come to life through all sorts of mediums. Sarah Carmody...as a fellow VFX artist, I am constantly inspired by the visual fidelity she gets out of her work. Some of the prettiest and most impactful VFX I've seen in video games.
Nienaber: Incidentally, my favorite artists used to all be male: Phil Hale, Kent Williams, Wesley Burt. But in the last couple years I've been pretty into drawing and line art. I love Jaw Cooper, Janet Kim, Claire Wendling and a slew of others.
LeCrone: I don’t really have any individual artists that I feel I strongly share a style with, but I certainly have many I look up to! We’re always so influenced by those around us, and some of the artists who I find deeply inspiring from include James Gurney and Stephanie Law. They have a strong handle on their craft and I love how much they give back to the community of artists around them by demystifying the techniques and materials they use! I’ve also certainly been influenced by two of my close friends who unfortunately passed away well before their time: Caroline Muchmore was a fantastic freelance illustrator, and Kevin Kanai Griffith worked on World of Warcraft and Diablo III. I can only hope that I can carry a candle of their artistic legacies forward. In terms of my own inner-circles, also I count myself blessed to also be surrounded by a further community of hardworking artists who I consider dear friends, such as Emily ColemanAnastasia KorochansckajaMelita Curphy, and so many more. I love seeing what everyone creates, and it’s been fantastic to watch everyone all blossom and grow as artists over the years and try new things, and just generally explore everything from new styles, materials, subject matter, and more. I love seeing everyone’s own unique voice in their work, and how they are constantly working to further hone their craft and push their creativity to new heights! That drive is definitely an inspiration!
Kimmel: I'm inspired by many artists who work in a representational figurative manner. There are probably too many to name. 
Earp: Oh man, just a few?! Well, my biggest inspirations over the years have been Lora Zombie, Ashley Wood, Ben Templesmith, Jason Shawn Alexander, Michael Katchan, Kentaro Miura, George Miller, and Edgar Wright. Ok that's more than "just a few", whatever! I hope you check out these artists and get inspired as well!
Yang: A female and a male! Female: Victo Ngai. I love her style and color and overall shape sensibilities! I love that she has an androgynous name! Male: James Jean. Also a master of color and shapes. I love his line work and fluidity within his compositions.
Chu: Sachen Teng. Teng's work has definitely inspired me from the use of colours and the combination between illustrations and graphic design put together. Vasili Zorin - Always has been an inspiration, his sense of colour and unique worlds makes me want to push everything I do. Guillaume Singelin - I love his characters, he has inspired me to go back and do a lot of traditional drawings and get better in drawing overall. He made me enjoy line art and inking.
Araujo: Remedios Varo. She is my favorite surrealist in art history, but her work is incredibly underrated. Her symbolism and imagery is something I deeply connect with. Claire Wendling. She is one of the greatest artists alive today, and I absolutely adore the characters she draws.
Blattman: There's too many! From the top of my head I love Edgar Payne's sense of color and values in his landscape paintings. Cory Loftis for his sense of design and life in his drawings. Brittney Lee for her shape language and vibrancy. Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo for their impeccable color sense. Anna Cattish for her characters filled to the brim with personality. Zac Retz (my boyfriend..I liked his art before I knew him!) for his ability to imply detail and capture light. The list goes on!
 

 
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Go here more information on this exhibition.
Please check out the works of our "Women of Art" gallery artists and interviewees of this article:
 

 

Rachel Day (FX Artist/Costume Designer)
Blizzard Entertainment

Michaela Nienaber (Artist)
Blizzard Entertainment

Careena Kingdom (Animator)
Blizzard Entertainment

Kimberly 'Kymba' LeCrone (Multimedia Artist/Storyteller)
Blizzard Entertianment

Rebecca Kimmel (Artist/Educator)
Founder/Owner, Korpus School of Art

Patty Earp (Illustrator)
Freelancer

Nicole Yang (Educator/Artist)
CSUF Art Faculty

Janice Chu (UI/Concept Artist)
Blizzard Entertainment

Mia Araujo (Fine Artist/Illustrator)
Freelancer

Julia Blattman (Concept Artist/Illustrator)
Disney Animation

 

 

 

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