This month our Artist Feature is Deidre Wicks! She is a Canadian born artist who takes animal art to whole new level of quirky, fun, and cute. She has a gift for creating funny relatable pet illustrations that we can’t help but love. Take a peak into her mind as she shares a few things about her work, life, and spirit animal choice.
I adore both Martin Handford and Edward Gorey. I was given a set of Where’s Waldo as a kid and I spent hours pouring over the illustrations. Strangely enough I was never really that interested in finding poor Waldo, I preferred the humour and wit that could be found deep in the crowds. Like a surprised topless sunbather at the beach, a man dressed as a woman or a star-crossed human/alien flirtation. Pretty brave when you think about it. That same bravery is something that attracts me to Edward Gorey. On the surface his work is dark in tone. People are murdered and children die all the time but somehow his overriding humor makes the illustrations charming. So I guess what I admire the most about both artists is their humor. And all that detail!!. I wish I had the patience to draw such ambitious illustrations.
My Career as an Artist
Overall I feel incredibly lucky to be able to draw for a living. I’ve been working professionally as an artist for almost 10 years now and it’s been (mostly) great. But it’s hard work and can often lead to burn-out. Dealing with constant piracy, long working days and the whims of some commercial clients has been a challenge to put it mildly. Despite all the bad things what drives me is the almost physical need to draw. Without question the single best thing about the work I do is the amazing reactions I get to my art from happy customers. It’s humbling to know I can bring a bit of happiness into people’s lives.
Favorite Commercial Piece
Some of my commercial work is under contract and I can’t disclose that I created it. The glamorous life of a commercial artist, ha ha. The Tea Party was originally created for a client but was ultimately rejected. While I was upset at the time I’m very happy to have retained all the rights. I LOVE this piece.
Ideas and Favorite Animal
I honestly can’t pinpoint exactly where my ideas come from. I certainly draw from personal experience because I’ve always had lots of pets and I used to dog walk and cat sit for extra money. Animals have such individual personalities so they provide endless inspiration. While I love the crazy energy of squirrels I think that cats are my very favorite subject to illustrate. They’re moody, sweet, silly, bossy and even devious sometimes so there’s just so much material to work with. Plus those GORGEOUS eyes!!
An illustration will start with an idea that pops into my head, usually as I’m drifting off to sleep. I’ve trained myself to always thumbnail or even just jot down an idea so I don’t forget it. From there my process varies. If it’s a commercial piece I’ll spend a lot of time sketching and laying out an illustration before I start the final piece. Once I’m happy with the sketch I’ll transfer it to the good paper. From there it can take days to finish depending on the medium I’m using and the size of the illustration. Watercolor is obviously much quicker than colored pencil but it’s harder to fix a mistake so sometimes that means starting over. If it’s a piece I’m doing for my online shop, or even just for myself, I’ll usually do a simple draft first or even sketch directly onto the good paper and work through the idea as I go. This process can be wild but it’s a lot of fun and much more liberating.
I’ve thought about this a lot believe it or not! I’d love to be able to say that I would be something majestic like a panther, a wolf or even an owl. I’m Canadian so I’m obligated to admire the industriousness of beavers and I do like to work as hard like they do. The honest truth is I’d probably be a spoiled, lazy house cat. I’m a homebody, I’m kind of moody sometimes and I hate to get wet. But that’s charming in an artist, right?
I love the Big Yellow Bee sketchbook because I can use it with just about all my preferred mediums. It will even take a healthy amount of wet paint. I also LOVE the artist marker paper. It’s my preferred paper type for marker work, colored pencil and even artist crayons when I want a smoother look to the finished drawing.