I don't recall how I first came across Riannon Owen's Instagram page (I rarely use my own if I'm not posting dog pics of JonJon!)... but I remember being so impressed I started following her right away. Which has been fun for me because it seems daily I get at least one gorgeously illustrated posting from her a day! Seriously, I don't know how she does it.
Upon checking out her various sites I realized that I had seen her at a few conventions over the years. I would pass by Artists Alley and she was one of those artists that I thought "I don't know her name but she's clearly making a living as an artist." I often wonder who a lot of these quasi-regular con artists come from and so I decided to ask her so we'd all find out together!
How did you learn to draw -- did you take art classes or are you self taught! - As a kid, I learned to draw people by copying covers and panels out of comics; Silvestri, Arthur Adams, John Byrne, and Jim Lee were my heroes then. My Dad was a big fan of Boris and Frazetta so I would stare at and flip through his old art books to try to draw monsters and crazy fantasy scenes. I had some formal training in High School where we tackled things like perspective, anatomy, and color theory. I went to Douglas Anderson School of Performing and Visual Arts here in Jacksonville. It's a magnet program high school where my focus was on drawing and painting. Our Freshman year was all about letting us dabble in different genres - printmaking, 3D arts, etc. - but during our Sophomore year we had to choose a field to study more extensively. I always loved to draw so I went with that. Other than those four years, I just learned what I could through trial and error and copying just about any and everything I saw.
You're work is awesome on its own, but I understand that you draw A LOT of it AT trading card size! Is that just something you do at conventions or is that how you do most of your art? - All the work that I draw at trading card sized is either specifically commissioned that way or it's required by the companies I work for. Primarily, I am a sketch card artist. As such, the companies that hire me for each project I work on send me blank cards which will later be randomly inserted into packs of cards so it has to be the same size - two-and-a-half by three-and-a-half inches - of the cards in the set. Sometimes, we do incentive art that is slightly larger like four by six or five by seven. As part of our compensation, these companies provide extra blanks for us to commission out to private collectors so all of the "official" work I do is still on card stock of a small size. It's rare, but I do get commissions to do sketch cards at conventions and privately through social media.
At most shows, however, I am mostly commissioned for things that are nine-by-twelve or eleven-by-fourteen. I have painted murals on walls from tile to ceiling and have done commissions as large as eighteen by twenty-four. I am currently working on some portraits for a friend's house and the sizes range from twenty-two by twenty-eight up to thirty-six by forty-eight. I don't always get great scans of the larger pieces so I tend to not post work if I think the photo quality doesn't do it justice or capture all the detail. We sketch card artists have to scan our cards at 300 dpi or more in the chance they'll be used in solicitation for the set and also because the license holders need to see the work to approve or disapprove it....since I have over five thousand images from the time I started in December of 2008, I have WAY more card art to pull from when posting work online.
You draw a LOT of women. Or maybe that's just what draws the most attention. Is this a choice on your part or do you just find you get more of those assignments and commissions? - I definitely get more commissions for female characters, but, I also love drawing them over drawing the guys. My favorite period in Art History was Art Nouveau. A lot of the design elements were dramatic drapery, sweeping, curved lines, and the contrast between intricately detailed spaces and those that were not. I find the female form lends itself better to this and for some odd reason I REALLY love drawing hair. Like. A LOT. Some of the projects I've worked on required me to draw mostly, if not all females though. In 2013 I did incentive art for Women of Marvel series 2 for Rittenhouse Archives and just wrapped up Dangerous Divas series two for them.
While the women you draw are certainly gorgeous... it seems to me you eschew the cheesecake. (There aren't a lot of shots of women showing their cleavage and butt cracks in the same picture.) Is this an esthetic or political statement -- or neither? It's neither. I personally prefer to draw women who appear more capable, strong, and powerful in some way than to draw them as a tart with clothes bursting at each seam. There's already a lot of that and I refuse to be a sheep in a herd just to make money. I also find more joy in employing subtlety than blatantly making a women appear seductive or attractive in some way physically. It helps me to hone tiny details like the curve of a mouth and the expression on a face. I think just relying on wasp waists and big boobs with round asses sticking out is too easy and it's a bit overdone by now. I don't knock it; some artists do it and do it well. I just like steering my work in another direction.
For any of the official projects I've worked on that involved some of the bigger companies we were expressly forbidden by contract to portray their heroines too suggestively and that mentality tends to stick at times. We had to keep in mind that our work could end up in the hand of a child. I have no issue with women who are scantily clad or even nude so long as it's tasteful. I also have no problem with women who are voluptuous or overtly curvy. But there's a fine line between it making sense and it being in your face for no reason. I'm certainly not someone whose politically correct in MANY ways but I don't glorify shoving things in people's proverbial face because I can or have a platform to reach larger numbers. I have a huge range of friends who are all shapes and sizes; some augmented, some not. At conventions, I've been asked to draw suggested or implied nudity and it doesn't offend me at all but I do tire of it quickly if that's ALL I am asked to do.
When are we going to see you drawing an actual comic book story? (And do you plan to draw it to scale?) - Well, isn't that a loaded question? HA! I have shied away from doing sequentials for a LONG time. In fact, it used to intimidate the Hell out of me. Much like when I was afraid of doing art as a career. I thought I'd get burnt out if I had to draw the same things or characters over and over.
One aspect I love about card art is the "one and done" simplicity of each image. I can try to imply or tell a story in one picture and that's fun for me. Working for so many diverse companies with licenses spanning from TV to comics to sci-fi to pin-ups I can jump from one subject to another if I feel bored with one project's subject matter. I usually have more than one deadline running congruently to keep me from getting sick of one thing. However.... I was recently asked by a friend in the industry the same basic question..." have you ever thought about sequentials?"...When I gave the same answer he took a moment to explain how he had the same thoughts before he went into it. He was also kind enough to then spend fifteen minutes to explain why I shouldn't have that fear, how things actually are and why that concern is a little invalid. THEN, he took even more time to give me pointers on how to avoid it becoming mundane or monotonous. Considering we were standing at his table in the middle of New York Comic Con, I didn't take his words lightly and they've been playing in my head since then.
As any good artist, who is a giant fan of the comics genre, I have developed about four dozen characters over the years. They now all float in my head on a daily basis begging to be realized in panels....So you may see actual comic art from me sooner rather than later. Developing my own story would at least give me practice in a sequential format before I try to submt any samples to companies looking for work. I don't think I would draw them to scale, though. Card art has really given me the time to learn to cram little details into small spaces, but when I get the chance I do prefer to draw bigger if I can.
Where can we look for your next art? - I am contracted through March of next year for several projects. I will have three releases in December I believe. One of these is the recently announced Dangerous Divas series 2 from Rittenhouse Archives. The significance of this project is I got to draw a nine-card subset of Marvel villainesses. It's the second time I had printed work on cards by a big company approved by Marvel; not just the random inserted original art on sketch cards. Another soon to be released project is Star Wars Masterworks by Topps. I just got all the images approved this morning and it's some of my best portrait and character likenesses to date. There will be more Marvel goodness coming from Upper Deck soon, as well as some independent subject matter from at least three other companies involving zombies, cowgirls, Star Trek, and more.
If someone wants a commission (and I know I do!) and someone isn't at a convention near you... how do they make that happen? - I am not hard to find. You can simply google my name and almost every gallery I have work on appears with links. I am on Deviant Art under " Dangerous-Beauty778". I have a Facebook page for my art at www.facebook.com/dangerousbeauty724. I am on Twitter and Instagram @RhiannonDrewIt. I have a gallery on Comic Art Fans and everyone is welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . IF you do go to conventions, I am already scheduled to appear at several next year. They include ShockPop Con in Ft. Lauderdale in Feb, MegaCon in Orlando in April, The NSU Card Show in Allenton in May, Denver Comic Con in May, and DragonCon in September in Atlanta, GA. I'm also working at making Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC happen in June along with the potential of going back to New York in October.