Thursday, April 12, 2007

Illustrator Interview: Meet Sally Bostrom

1.How long have you been working as a freelance artist and illustrator?
I graduated from Ringling School of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida in 1985, and have been a freelance artist since then. I was offered a starting position with Hallmark as a Line Designer, but turned it down due to the fact that I was starting a family. So, I’ve been freelancing out of my home for 20 years.

2.You started in college as a medical student. When I see your artwork, it’s obvious you were born with an exceptional gift. What compelled you to want to study medicine and later make the switch to art?
The field of medicine has always intrigued me. I began my collegiate studies in pre-med, but found I was unable to maintain a high enough GPA to continue in medicine. What is interesting is that in pre-med, I took the required anatomy/physiology course which when I changed majors and was accepted at Ringling School of Art & Design, gave me a much better understanding of the human body (skeletal and muscular). I found I was able to excel in figure drawing & painting, sculpture and illustration due to my understanding of the human form.

3.Your art is extremely versatile. You do contemporary photo-realism, abstract images, portraits, picture book illustrations, just to name a few. Do you have a favorite medium or style?
I cannot say that I have a “favourite” medium. I find that I get bored…or my art remains stagnant if I don’t switch mediums. I think that my “style” is evident in all my work, even though I am quite versatile. For instance, one week I will use oils and paint photo-realistically on large canvases…when the next week, I will use technical pen with watercolour and dyes…simple, whimsical illustrative drawings on bristol board.

4.Tell us about the time you spent in Paris learning Master Painting Techniques. Is it really different to study art in Paris as opposed to the States?
The difference I found was that in Paris, you are surrounded by so many fabulous museums, which house master painters and their art from all ages. I could take the subway to any gallery I wanted within minutes and view Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Dutch Masters, the Impressionists, etc., etc., etc. To view the diverse amount of Master Works in the United States, one would have to travel by airplane…and then not even be able to see a fraction of the art one is surrounded with in Paris. Also, the United States is so much “newer” and completely different than Europe. Living in Paris alone was an inspiration that greatly influenced my art.

5.What are your sources of inspiration?
Natural beauty. My studio faces out to my garden which is filled with fascinating plants, flowers, trees, butterflies, my seven cats!!! I find great pleasure looking out at God’s creation while painting or drawing. Another tremendous source of inspiration is having a husband who not only supports my art, but gets involved in it. Being happily married…with wonderfully creative children, all add to an inspirational environment.

6.What is the most fascinating part of being an artist? What is the most frustrating?
Watching what I envision in my mind come to fruition on canvas or paper…seeing something “come alive” on the canvas. The most frustrating part is when my vision is not expressed…or when the canvas or paper I am working on seems “flat.”

7.Describe a regular day in Sally Bostrom’s life. Do you follow a disciplined schedule?
I get up at 5:30am every morning and read the Bible with my husband before he goes to work. I like working in my yard…so I do that for a few hours in the morning. After errands are complete, housework, etc., then I will sit down and draw the remainder of the day. I don’t feel it as a “disciplined” schedule…more of a routine that I am in. And it works well for me. If there is an illustration or commissioned piece that needs to be completed, then I generally get started on it first thing in the morning…working on it until it is finished.

8.Besides being an accomplish artist, you also write poetry and children’s books. Please tell us a bit about your writing projects, present and future.
I love to write, and have been writing since I was a little girl. Recently, though, I finished 2 children’s books that are with the same character…and I’d love to do some follow-up stories and have a “series.” Poetry or writing is another avenue I enjoy, and generally illustrate the poetry as well as the children’s books.

9.How would you compare an author’s creative process as opposed to an artist’s? Do you sometimes suffer from artist’s block?
As a writer, one paints pictures with words…having the reader envision what is written. A painter tells a story without words. I believe the creative process is basically the same. I also believe that anyone involved in any form of the arts comes up to “blocks” every now and again. It’s when you continue to persevere and get through the “block” that you feel some sense of satisfaction.

10.Let's talk about the artist's temperament. In Kate Chopin's classic The Awakening, Emma is told that an artist must possess "the courageous soul... the brave soul... the soul that dares and defies." Do you think this is true?
Yes, and no. There have been times in my life where I have had to be courageous…and brave…finding myself defiant…just in an effort to prove other’s wrong. I cannot say that this defines an « artist’s » temperament, though. What drives one to paint or write as they do ? ? ? It may not be courage or bravery…but pain and tremendous hardship. Some artisans, I have found, try to create a sense of contraversy with their art…they try to stir up other’s emotions…but not necessarily for the « good » of others. What really matters with the arts…of any form…is that other’s are moved to feel…and maybe, to change. Art is creativity…and creativity fuels thought. If one’s creative processes cause negative reaction, than their creative process is worth nothing more than the refuse we have removed from our homes. If one’s creative process promotes a positive result…be it thought, mind, word, paint or played…than it is, in essence…a creation. It causes what is old…what is stagnant…to become new…to become refreshed. This is the courageous soul…the brave one……….one who knows the Truth and is strong enough to stand up for it…regardless.

11.How may those individuals interested in book cover artwork, portraits, or illustrations contact you or see samples of your work?
My website is: . Anyone can contact me through my website.

12.What advice would you give to aspiring freelance artists?
Never give up. Always carry a sketch pad and pencil or pen with you at all times and DRAW. The more one draws, the easier and more natural it becomes. If one door shuts, there’s always another waiting to be opened. And, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If someone doesn’t find your work to be interesting, someone else will.

Thank you, Sally. It was a pleasure!

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