THE CONVENTION COLLECTIVE: Thank you for joining us in the Spotlight, Ana! How did you get into art and why did you want to become an artist?
Ana Rivera: Ever since I can remember, I have been drawing. It wasn’t until my father enrolled me in Saturday art classes when I started learning about gouache, acrylic and pastels. My parents have been taking me to those classes since I was 4-years-old and it was when later, they enrolled me in a specialized art middle and high school, that I started considering it as a career. I didn’t really know how to do anything else. From the very beginning, I was painting.
TCC: What was the first work you completed, where you stepped back and thought, “Yes, y’know what, I can do this for a living!”?
Ana: I cannot pinpoint a specific time because I have done so much! I did traditional drawing expos and said to myself: “yeah my career will be this”. Later I fetched a concept art book called Spectrum and was like: “what is that? I want to do that!”. And then I started taking animation classes in college and was: “oh this is my thing!”. Then came back to concept art and decided: “no no this is my thing” and repeated with storyboarding and character design. The most recent thing I have is doing comic covers, I love it and definitely see myself doing covers for books and comics for the rest of my life. But there is something about characters that I will never get tired of doing.
TCC: Which artists inspire you? And they don’t have to be in the medium you work in, either…
Ana: That’s a big question! I am a fan of art and we are living in a golden age for digital artists around the world. By just scrolling through social media I meet new exciting artists doing stuff I couldn’t even dream of doing. It is amazing to see. But my main art influences stay the same: Caravaggio, Drew Struzan, Tommy Arnold, Olivier Coipel, Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, Karla Ortiz, Tite Kubo, and Kentaro Miura.
TCC: Can you tell us your greatest fan moment, interacting with a personal hero of yours where you may have gone a little weak at the knees?
Ana: One time, I went to an animation convention in Burbank when I spotted Drew Struzan outside. I felt my spirit lift from my body, scream and come back down. He was extremely nice and patient with me being all star struck. I knew he was in his professional mode being respectful towards a little girl fan when a second ago he was talking strictly business. It was surreal, I still have the pictures and still can’t believe it.
TCC: What is your favorite fandom? Who is your favorite comic book character/movie/tv character?
Ana: I have to say I follow everything Star Wars and technically was the first fandom I was part of so by default it has to be them, but more specifically, Star Wars Prequels’ fans because I get them and they do the best memes.
My favorite characters are a long list: Christina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy; Buffy Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Korosensei from Assasination Classroom; All Might from My Hero Academia; Moses from Prince of Egypt; Hades from Disney’s Hercules; Guts, Puck, and Schierke from Berserk; Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan; Reiner Braun, Armin Arlert, and Hange Zoë from Attack on Titan and Michael Scott from The Office.
TCC: Outside of the ones you create for a living, what characters/stories do you like drawing the most in your spare time?
Ana: Fan art is how I learned to draw and paint in traditional and digital. I have always had a thing about painting Padmé Amidala and I blame Ian McCaig’s amazing designs for it, and I am still not finished painting her. If the new show I am watching or just read really clicked with me I will do a fanart every time, published or not.
TCC: What’s your working routine? Do you work regular set hours and days, keeping certain days free for personal time, or do you find you create any time the muse takes you?
Ana: I like working after I eat so the beverage is still cold and on my side, and I spent the entire day and half of the night on the computer. For years I even worked on weekends, but this past year and a half I have tried to keep weekends off to rest my hand even though my art mind is restless. I also have to have time off if my ice-cream-serving-side-job-injury pops up again. I don’t know how I am going to do all that once I have more constant clients in the future with deadlines happening at the same time. For now, however, I try not to exhaust myself too much and do other things without hurting my hand. But If I have an idea for a painting in mind I break the rule and sit down for a few minutes.
TCC: When you’re creating, what do you use for background noise? Some artists use music or podcasts; some use a TV show that they just can listen to in the background. What do you use?
Ana: I have been getting into Reddit stories, podcasts and True Crime while I work. I am guilty of rewatching Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares time and time again when I am painting. However, if my task is to design characters I prefer music or nothing at all since it requires some extra gears to move.
TCC: What was the first comic con that you remember attending? And, indeed, what was the last?
Ana: I remember back in 2008 it was mostly anime related for my best friend’s birthday, but I still haven’t caught on to anime yet. Later in 2011 I was full on cosplaying Bleach and attending religiously like Christmas Day. The last Puerto Rico Comic Con I ever attended was right before I graduated in 2018. My last artist table was in 2017 because my final seminar and thesis were keeping my May month busy. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about it though, it seems like an eternity ago. Since I moved to Los Angeles I haven’t gone to a comic convention, but I have been attending CTN and Lightbox Expo. I wanted to go to Los Angeles Comic Con but I was broke and didn’t want to go alone. Hopefully next time I am not alone and can go vaccinated.
TCC: What’s your favourite element of a comic convention? And which bits could you easily leave behind?
Ana: The cosplays and the artist alley are my favorite areas to go. I can leave behind the long lines under the sun. I have to prepare myself if I ever go to San Diego Comic-Con, the real comic con.
TCC: At a convention, when you’re not behind your table or doing the things you have to do at a con, which corner of the show would we find you in?
Ana: The artist alley. I like seeing new art with their artists standing in front of it. I also like meeting old acquaintances too. Conventions are the highlight of my year where I get to meet old and new friends.
TCC: With the lack of conventions, a lot of artists are taking commissions online and mailing them out to people – is this something you’re doing?
Ana: I have a Society6. For now, I haven’t seen a lot of demand for my prints because my energy has gone into my classes and building portfolio pieces.
TCC: A lot of creatives are also taking to crowdfunding – such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo – to generate income from their work. What’re your thoughts on that?
Ana: I would love to have crowdfunding; I just don’t think I am big enough for it yet. But the income would really help to gain my independence. I see a lot of artists doing it and I am extremely happy for them. Hopefully I can live from my art in the future!
TCC: What projects have you recently finished? What are you working on at the moment, what projects are coming up that you can talk about?
Ana: I have finally published the title cards work that I did for Victor and Valentino: Through the 9 Realms of Mictlan and it’s the most recent work you can find on my social media. I was extremely happy with the entire process and I am happy everyone can enjoy it now. I also finished volume 2 of Hired Guns and started volume 3. Volume 4 hopefully is done by this year and I am still working on my own work and classes on the side. Is very hard for me to concentrate on one project without a deadline because there’s so much I can do deadlines to help me focus and organize myself.
TCC: How do you stay connected with fans? Do you use a mailing list or newsletters, are you active on social media?
Ana: Whenever I have the time and my art is not NDA I publish it on social media. Sometimes social media can be toxic for my mental health so I sometimes take long breaks from Instagram, but I am always looking through Facebook for news and ArtStation for inspiration.
TCC: Where can people see an example of your art online and find out about your rates?
Ana: they can see my art in
My website https://anariverart.wixsite.com/mysite
TCC: Thanks, Ana, for your time!
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