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Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Sandbox Spotlight – DREA D., Artist and Creator

TCC: Can you tell us a bit about your art style and what got you started in creating your business? 

Drea D.: I actually came from a background of having to adopt many different styles! As a sign painter for many years, my job was to replicate things freehand – so when I struck out on my own, I didn’t know what style I should go for… The “Disney” style felt right since I grew up drawing those characters, and I wanted to avoid realism. I love the stretch and drama that 2D characters can give, and Karen Hallion was an amazing model for me on that front! But I also love all things spooky, and I wanted it to have more of a gothic edge, and my favorite artist of all time, Abigail Larson was an amazing example for me on that front! Someone once said my work was like “Disney after dark” and that seems really accurate!

TCC: Now we have to talk about your greeting cards. From happy birthday to your quarantine pack you did a while back, I have loved getting a whole bunch of your different cards to send to friends because they are perfect and funny. How do you come up with these witty greetings and pairing them so well with different fandoms and characters?

Drea D.: Omg!! This question made my day! I’m so happy you enjoy them!! The greeting cards are an absolute joy to make! I’ve always enjoyed writing, but don’t really have time for it, and humor is like currency in my family. I’ve always said if I didn’t go for the art thing, I would have tried to do stand up, because making people laugh is my favorite. It’s impossible for me to take anything seriously (especially myself) so it’s great therapy to turn a piece I love into a joke that makes someone laugh out loud. I usually just look at the piece, and some ideas come more easily than others, sometimes the card is an obvious bday or get well card, and sometimes I’ll write it to be a “friendship” card because I need more of those, etc. It’s really just a fun activity for me that has evolved into my favorite part of comic cons: watching people laugh at my jokes and show their friends- it really just makes my day!

TCC: What would you say has been your favorite fandom art piece you’ve done so far?

Drea D.: Ohhhhh this one is really hard… I really do adore so many fandoms… I’m going to go with the Hobbit “Roads go on” piece, because for me it evokes that feeling of “the beginning of an adventure, possibilities, anything can happen” and Tolkien is my OG fandom 🙂

TCC: Which would you say you struggled with the most in creating? Why?

Drea D.: Oh man … I struggle making things all the time! Of course (like writing) it’s the best when a piece is cooperative, and comes together easily, but sometimes it’s a situation where I don’t know the characters as well, so I can’t decide what they would be doing, or other times a piece just doesn’t feel right and it’s like you’re fighting it into existence the whole time. Sometimes I love a character too much and get in my own head… a good example would be my chillin villains: Captain Hook. One of my all time favorite characters, I think I had too many ideas for him, and it never really felt right and the piece came out not really as I’d envisioned… I think I psyched myself out, which really happens all the time!

TCC: Reylo, I would be an idiot if I never brought this up. But, your Reylo art is some of the most well known in the fandom (and I’m in love with it). Where do you get some of your ideas for your endless amount of Reylo art? Would you say it’s your most popular art you’ve done so far? And what made you start drawing it?

Drea D.: Oh my goodness, this is actually news to me! Thank you!! Honestly I don’t think they are necessarily the most popular, but I think I was making them at the height of the Reylo craze, which definitely helped! They were nearly all pin commissions from 2 of the 3 gals I work with- So I was quite literally ordered to draw them! some ideas they had, and some I had, but I do enjoy the visuals of that couple because there is a lot you can play with: light and dark, longing emotions, love and hate, and Adam Driver has an undeniably interesting face! 

TCC: Where do you get all your ideas for the many ship art pieces you do? Along with deciding to make them into your Boudoir collection?

Drea D.: I think most of my good ideas come from me just being a genuine fan of something- The best fan art is made when you’re a fan, after all! I think my pin gals have learned that too – they’ll get my best work when I’m into the fandom. Generally I’ll be given parameters of some kind (either a theme for a series I’m doing or a specific scene in a pin design etc) so I think about how each character would act in that scene – with each other and their surroundings etc , so knowing the characters well, and trying to capture what I love about them, is when I come up with the best ideas! The boudoir is really more of a collaboration with the patrons, which is what I love about it! They put out the couples or individuals they want to see each month, then everyone votes and that’s who we pick! I even hold “adoptions” so patrons can help decide the scenes & it really helps keep things interesting! We have so much fun in the Boudoir!

TCC: Are there any big projects or new collections you could tell us a bit about that you’re working on? Any more enamel pins?

Drea D.: Always! I’m going to be pre-selling my Star Wars and Potter-Verse card decks in a few weeks on Patreon! I’m also working on a mixed fandom tarot card deck on there, and just about to announce a new pin line I’m sooooo excited about! Also on the Patreon horizon is fandom specific oracle decks! I just finished my first officially Disney licensed Hocus Pocus tarot deck -so keep an eye out for that! I’m working on some book pages for Aurelio Voltaire with some other fantastic artists (including icons IrenHorrors and Abigail Larson!) And next year I’m going to work on publishing a Boudoir coffee table book, hopefully with Roselynn Thornwood, who has been writing spectacular things to go with the illustrations!

TCC: Are there any fandoms/ ships that you haven’t done that you really want to work on? Or any new art mediums you want to try out for your art?

Drea D.: There are always SOOOO many waiting in the wings! I have a list of ideas I keep around for when I need something new – I want to finish my “fight like a girl series” and I still want to do a vampire series, LOTR, maybe a classic monsters series, Avatar, Labyrinth, there is never a shortage! As far as new mediums, I’ve tried almost everything at this point, I was really well versed in charcoal and oils, but I’m really happy with digital, actually! That said, I also really love creating real world immersive environments, and I think about how I can accomplish something like that more and more… that’s for WAY on the horizon though I think but it’s on my mind!

TCC: Do you have any tips for aspiring artists? Or artists that want to make a business/ living off what they love to do?

Drea D.: Absolutely! Here are three things that continue to serve me best: 

  1. Never think “I’m too weird” or “people won’t understand my weird stuff”. Don’t water yourself down to try to reach a larger audience. On the contrary, focus on what you love most deeply, keep broadcasting it, and over time your audience will almost magically find you! This helps me when I feel lost trying to decide what I should do next. Stay true to you because it’s so easy to get distracted from that.
  2. Once you find your audience, stay productive and in front of them! That’s what will help you quit your day job!  This helps me when I’m deciding what platforms to use, what comic cons to attend, etc, knowing my audience and where to find them!
  3. And most importantly: NEVER give up because you feel defeated!! That feeling happens to everyone. You just need to push through it, keep going, that’s how you’ll make it to the other side! This helps me allll the time. “Just keep swimming” is sometimes all you need to do.

TCC: Lastly, where can people check out your art, order and connect with you?

Drea D.: That one is easy, actually! I keep my link tree up to date, so you’ll find all the happenings on Instagram, and all my links here: linktr.ee/drea.d.art

We at The Convention Collective want to showcase the very best in creative talent. Are you a creator who would like to be featured in our weekly Sandbox Spotlight? Leave a comment here, or reach out to us at admin@TheConventionCollective.com

Ali Raphael
Ali Raphael
Ali is a professional workaholic but likes to add more to her plate by reviewing comics/books/ tv shows/movies and anime. In every other waking moment, she breathes books, manga and anything Marvel. Every day she wishes she was a Part-Time Avenger, instead of a full-time Target employee.

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