An Interview With RavenWolf Studios Artist: Monica RavenWolf

Art of Monica RavenWolf Image used with permission

Artist alley is a dangerous place for me at conventions and artist Monica RavenWolf is one of the reasons why.

I have her Superman piece hanging in my house and her BITTENS: Cheshire shirt on its way to my collection from TeeFury. Her art is amazing with colors that just pop off the page and takes the viewer on a color filled adventure spanning the horror, fantasy, and science fiction worlds.

GeekMom Dakster: How long would you consider yourself to have been an artist?
Monica Ravenwolf: Since I could remember I have always wanted to be an artist. Professionally for about 12 years. Before that, it was just a hobby off and on. My first convention experience was back in either 2006 or 2007 at Mega-Con. I was helping a fellow artist friend at his table. He suggested I sign up for next year’s show…so I took his advice. Before I did Mega-Con I tried a smaller show called Orlando Comic-Con. I had a blast there and ever since then I have been hooked. That show was the first time I met my husband in person too. Sadly though that con is no more.

Sugar Sin Native Indigo \ Image used with permission
Sugar Sin Native Indigo \ Image used with permission

GM: If you were to explain your style in only a few words, how would you describe it?
MR:It’s hard to say from my perspective because I almost don’t feel as if I have a style. Portrait realism is what I would say and only because that is what I draw the most. I have heard from others that I have an amazing technique when it comes to utilizing color. It’s nice to hear someone else’s perspective on my work. Sometimes I don’t think about what I am doing when I put the pencil to the paper. I just do what feels right.

GM: Of all the work you’ve done thus far, what would you say is your favorite and why?
MR: It’s hard to pinpoint which would be my favorite. I would have to say my Native Indigo piece. I created Native Indigo initially as a tribute to the idea that many cultures could be one. Ultimately showing unique beauty with creative and indigenous serenity. That piece took me about a month to finish!! Right now I have entered her into the Heavy Metal Magazine cover contest. They will announce the winners at San Diego Comic-Con so I am pretty excited about it… So keep your fingers crossed!!

The Crow by Monica Ravenwolf \ Used with permission
The Crow by Monica Ravenwolf \ Used with permission

GM: Is there a piece that you have an emotional connection to?
MR: That would definitely have to be the Crow piece I did back in 2005 or 2006. It is the piece that brought me and my husband together. Back when people used MySpace I used that as my profile pic and Graven saw that piece online and fell in love with it because according to him he hadn’t seen a crow piece done as well as mine. When we got married that piece was next to us while we were exchanging vows and my wedding ring is a replica of Shelly’s ring in the movie.

GM: My personal favorite collection so far is BITTENS. Would you share with us the inspiration behind it?

MR: I wanted to do something other than portrait fan art and have something that is more unique and original. My first attempt was my Hallo-kitty. I wasn’t thinking about doing a collection of different bat kittens at the time, I just wanted to do something that was outside of what I normally draw. So my first attempt was a bat kitten sitting on a pumpkin. My next one was the Cheshire cat themed bat kitten which has had a very positive response. After that, I thought I need to make this a series/collection of some type. So my husband and I came up with the name BITTENS ( Bat + Kittens = BITTENS). I am still trying to figure out a logo for it. I don’t like rushing these things. My latest pieces are Cathulhu (Based on HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu monster) & Sin Kitty (Sugar Skull kitten). In the future, I eventually want to make some kind of toy or plush line for BITTENS. Currently, CATHULHU & CHESHIRE are on TeeFury.

BITTENS Cheshire Cat Image Use with permissionGM: Looking at your gallery, I notice all of your art is done on black matte with very vibrant colors. What is it about that medium that draws you to it?
MR: My first attempt on black paper was back in 2008. I did a piece with Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee that I called Legendary. At the time, it was something different I wanted to try. Graven challenged me to draw it in a day and I did. It took me 8 hours to complete. Since then I have been drawing on black paper and then eventually black matte board. I do go back to white paper occasionally but I prefer the black. I always love bringing art from the shadows by working on black matte board. It allows my style to come into the light giving each piece that mysterious quality.

GM: I’ve noticed a lot of the artists at cons are drawing on tablets these days. What do you think about this digital movement and artists starting to go more towards drawing on tablets versus hand drawn?
MR: Personally, I love traditional for myself and what I do. There is nothing like holding a finished piece in your hands and knowing you created it with your hands. I can actually do digital as well, just not as good since I don’t do it that often. I love digital work whether it is vector or painted in Photoshop. I work in graphic design and t-shirt separations full-time so this isn’t new to me. I do think that if you want to make it in any advertising, commercial work, even comics, you HAVE to do digital in some way or form. Sadly, many large corporations are not hiring traditional artists these days. It is all digital art. Digital is so much quicker and a lot of times has that flawless look. I admire many digital artists and I sure have nothing against doing it. A lot of times artists will sketch their piece then scan it into Photoshop or Illustrator and go from there which utilizes both traditional and digital mediums. Sometimes, I will do the reverse and do a loose sketch in Photoshop then either print it out and light-box the final or use the grid method if I am utilizing black paper. This way I am not wasting paper. I know several artists that do this. I actually thought I was weird for doing it that way….LOL

Sugar Sin \ Image used with permission
Sugar Sin \ Image used with permission

GM: For me, writer’s block is something I struggle with from time to time. Do you ever have moments where it’s hard to feel inspired and if so, how do you work through them?
MR: Every artist has had this at some point or another. There was a point that I had stopped drawing and doing shows. I didn’t draw for 3 years!! Just didn’t have the drive. Then one day I got introduced to Doctor Who and believe it or not that show got me drawing again. When I found out that there was a Doctor Who convention and signed up. I knocked out like nine pieces for that show and since then I have been nonstop. Of course, life happens and there are times when I can’t draw anything especially when I am stressed. I try not to force it. The art will come to me when its ready. Take a break and come back to it. Normally that works for me. I even try to keep things that inspire me around me while I draw. Whether it be a movie in the background, music…etc

GM: What are you working on now?
MR: Right now I am working on some commission work. Then it is more BITTENS and SUGARSIN pieces. I know I haven’t talked about SugarSin. That is my Day of the Dead themed art. I have my logo for that too. It’s an ice-cream cone with a cute skull face. The bottom of the cone has a colored pencil tip. Has a very 50’s retro ice cream shop feel to it. I call her Sindy Von Sweets!! She sells well on her own just as a graphic.

GM: Do you have any advice for young artists wanting to achieve the level of awesomeness that you have?
MR: Just DRAW. Draw every day if you can. Get that discipline down. I think it is important to learn the fundamentals if you are new to drawing. You don’t have to go to school if you don’t want to, there are many books and tutorials online that are just as good as any school. I did go to college for web design and commercial art. I actually hate web design with a passion and I am not using it at all. My husband does all of the web design work and I couldn’t tell you what he is doing. What a waste of money LOL!! If you are going to college please make sure you know what you want to do with your art career!! If I knew then what I know now I would have never gone for web design. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my art at that time. Some of my family said there wasn’t much money in art and that’s why I went with web design I think. I knew there would be money there but that did not make me happy. Do what makes YOU happy!

From fandom portraits to custom creations, Monica’s art is some of my favorite. Her cute creator owned work in BITTENS and the world of SUGAR SIN along with her realistic fandom portraits make her stand out among her fellow artists wherever she goes. For more information about Monica check out her and her husband’s art page, The Art of RavenWolf.

Dakster Sullivan is a network administrator by day and a cosplayer by night. She loves discovering new books to read, tech to play with, and ways to express her herself. She has anxiety and depression and strives to educate others about these invisible illnesses.