Angela Rachelle Sasser is an artist and illustrator based in Georgia. Her work shows inspirations from art nouveau and imaginative realism. This interview was conducted by email in August 2016. You can find more of her work at angelasasser.com and angelicshades.com
Interview by Maggie Ivy
MI: Thank you for doing this interview Angela. First question, what got you to work in illustration? Was it always something you wanted to do at a young age or did it come later in life?
ARS: Funny enough, I know the exact moment I wanted to become an illustrator. I was about 8 years old and I was reading Saint George and the Dragon illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. There were fairies and mysteries hidden in every corner of her gorgeous borders and I realized finally that these images came from somewhere. More accurately, they were drawn by an artist. I knew instantly I wanted to be the person that made these images and to tell stories like this one. Writing and drawing were both twin compulsions for me, even before the point I realized I wanted to be a professional illustrator. Imagine my joy when I got older and realized creative professionals were actually paid to create these things!
MI: You have been working on an art NOUVEAU series called ¨Ladies of the Months¨. Would you please tell us a little about the project and how it came to life?
ARS: The Ladies of the Months came about after I had struggled for a long time to create a birthstone series. I had started one with angels in the past, but the format just wasn’t working and it just didn’t feel unique enough. Lightning struck when I was browsing for inspiration and spotted an old favorite series of mine – The Precious Stones by Alphonse Mucha. I loved the vertical format and gemstone color palettes and wanted to create my own take with similar themes. And so the Ladies of the Months were born in my attempt to unite birthstones with birth flowers and the accompanying seasonal lore that inspired these months. It was also an excuse to stretch my creative abilities with leather crafting by crafting all new masks with similar birthstone and birth flower themes.
ARS: As an artist, I know how hard it can be to procure resources on a budget. As such, I shoot a lot of my own reference photos. Since I had so many extra photos from my shoots, I decided to start sharing them with other artists for free and low cost. As an MA Arts Administration graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design, I wrote my thesis on evolving audiences and e-marketing. This thesis paper laid the foundations for the Library and what I hope will be more articles and reviews for artists to come in the near future!
MI: A series of posts that really intrigued me was your ¨Stock vs. Art¨. Showing some of the artwork made from using your stock photos as reference. What advice would you give other artist about using stock photos?
ARS: Be kind and always follow stock artist’s rules, when possible! Also, after a certain point when you have your basics laid in, put your reference away and start relying on your own sense of right and wrong. This will help you create natural, organic images that don’t stiffly rely on your stock poses.
MI: We know you are involved with the Changeling Artist Collective, have you done another group projects before?
ARS: I’ve done group exhibitions in college, but never anything as ambitious as Changeling!
MI: How is your work space set up?
ARS: I’ve recently moved into a much larger space, so it’s still a work in progress. The plan is to have a digital area where I do my writing and digital art, while the traditional painting area is separated off so I have a dedicated space I don’t have to reorganize every day. I also have a table in the traditional art area with a granite block for creating leather crafts.
MI: Do you listen to anything when you work? Music, podcasts, audiobooks, trashy tv?
ARS: I tend to listen to inspiring movies I’ve already seen so they don’t distract me. Movies with great soundtracks that are long are usually the best fodder (Braveheart, Gladiator, Gangs of New York, Black Swan, etc.). I also listen to a lot of music. Delerium, Nightwish, Ellie Goulding, and Florence + The Machine are some of my top faves! I have a whole playlist of inspiring art music on YouTube, if anyone wants to mine my inspiration music. I also listen to the One Fantastic Week podcast! They’re a great way to keep up with the genre art community and the attached Facebook group has been a great source of comradery for me.
MI: How is the art scene where you are now?
ARS: I’ve recently moved to the area, so I’m still exploring the art scene where I am. Right now, it seems to be mostly art fairs that feature folk art and photography. I’m hoping I can start up some local sketch and life drawing groups, since there don’t seem to be many around my immediate area.
MI: What other artists inspire or interest you?
ARS: Mucha (for sure!), John Jude Palencar, and Jason Chan are some of my top favorite artists!
MI: What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?
ARS: I’d like to see less traditional sword and sorcery and more subtle and intelligent heroes. I’m very much drawn to the more fairy tale branch of fantasy because of the attention folklore pays to unusual and clever protagonists.
MI: What’s your dream project?
ARS: I would love to do book covers for Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy book series! I’ve already started doing a fan project on my own redesigning these covers here, if anyone’s curious. It’s been a great exercise to help me practice my skills and to give me an excuse draw the things I love to draw. Masquerades, fallen angels, and tattooed ladies, oh my!
MI: What’s next for you?
ARS: Once I wrap up the Ladies of the Months series, I hope to return my full attention to The Muse’s Library and start actively creating more stock art and reviews for artists. Video reviews are definitely in my future! I also hope to do more writing for my fantasy IP that’s in the works (you guys can see a little tease of that project here).