Puddle Jump Artist Interview: Sharon Sordo

To kick off our Puddle Jump Artist Interview series, today we interrogate Puddlejumper Sharon Sordo about her techniques, inspiration, hopes and dreams. More importantly, you get to see some of her magically immersive illustrations! Since this is Sharon we're talking about, obviously there will also be a picture of a cat.

Work Space Tour: We want to see pictures of where you work! Show us your desk, your chair, your lighting, your supplies, your vision board. What does the view look like outside your window?

Yes, my window faces the community pool, it gets very loud on the weekends, but it always smells like BBQ so it's not all bad.

Don't have a desk yet, but a dinning table works just as well!

We have a lot of community cats. This one is Robin, she is super sweet and we adore her!

What are your five most important work tools?

My number one most important tool is my awesome desktop! I mainly work digitally so I need a good computer that can handle large files with zero lag. Second would have to be Adobe Photoshop, it's the only program I use for digital painting. Next comes my one true love, my pen digitizer tablet monitor, the Yiynova MVP20U. I absolutely adore this tool. It has elevated my digital art work significantly. My fourth most important tool would have to be the Kyle T Webster Photoshop brushes. They are professional quality digital brushes and are super-duper affordable, I couldn't live with out them. Lastly is Pinterest. I use this website daily to gather reference and find inspiration. (Here is her Pinterest.)

What do you want to do when you grow up? (or) What do you aspire to do with your art?

I'm not grown yet? Woo-hoo! I want to be published in the children's book industry as well as write and illustrate my own books. I also want to be involved in the game industry as a character or environment concept artist.

Why do you make art? Why do you aspire to make children's books? What motivates you to make art for kids?

I make art because it is what I was born to do. I guess, I kinda have to make art, otherwise I don't feel like myself! I'm interested in children's books because I love fantasy, imagination, and magic. As a child, I lived for magical adventures. Picture books filled this need and inspired me to create my own worlds. I hope to inspire at least one child with my stories and ignite a passion within them for art and story-telling.

Explain your work process for us. How do you like to work best? If you have pictures of you working, or of your process, it could be fantastic to share them.

I begin by brainstorming and 'drawing' the illustration in my head before I put anything on paper. When I have an idea of what this illustration might look like, I begin the hunt for references. In Pinterest I create a board for the illustration and begin to gather images. I look for color palette, lighting, character designs, even concept art for games or movies, anything that catches my eye. Then comes the thumbnails, followed by a sketch, then I do value studies.

I love to play around with lighting, so I take my time and explore different lighting situations using greyscale - no color yet! Once I have the values, I choose a color palette and begin painting. I block out everything in basic shapes with the local color, then begin adding the values. Throughout the painting process, I desaturate the painting and make sure the color values match the greyscale values I created on my study earlier. Finally comes the details, my favorite part! This part of the process can often times take the longest. To finish off the illustration, I play around with the color balance and call it a day.

Your favorite color? Favorite art medium? Favorite paper? Favorite place you've ever been?

Favorite color? That's a tough one! At the moment I am enjoying the cooler side of the color wheel. I know, that's not one color. If I had to choose...aqua blue. I don't normally work traditionally, but I enjoy textured paper. I love amusement parks! My favorite by far is Disneyland. I think I want to get married there, is that a thing?

If you were an animal, what would you be?

I would be an eagle. Having the ability to fly at any moment would be amazing!

Picture book character who is most like you?

For some reason Corduroy comes to mind. I guess as a child you try to find out who you are and where you belong, and that I saw a lot of myself in that little bear. Also, I loved it when he went took the escalator to the floor with all the sofas and beds. I wanted to tell Corduroy to jump on everything!

What are you passionate about? What makes you laugh?

I am passionate about story-telling. The art of creating a world of your own and sharing it with people is amazing to me. Fart jokes, fart jokes make me laugh. Also anything with a person in a dinosaur costume, and The Office.

What is your favorite snack?

Oh, I love snacks. It used to be Goldfish Crackers, but I've been trying to eat healthy so I learned to love carrots. Also, I love fresh baked bread.

Tell us about an illustration project you are excited about. Would you like to share anything you are working on? Do you have some finished pieces you'd like to share?

I was part of an illustrated anthology focusing on dreams. It was a group of 50 artist who all contributed an illustration about a dream or nightmare. It was successfully funded in KickStarter, so I am super excited about receiving the printed book and honored to have worked along side so many amazing artists! I am working on a middle grade graphic novel about a dragon girl who must save her village from the darkness that lies beyond the forest! Lastly, I am part of a small indie group making a side-scrolling video game. I am the character/environment concept artist. I'm having a blast working with the team and thrilled about learning how to paint in 3d.

This is our main character.

This is my contribution to the anthology book.

This is a sketch for Rainn, main character in my graphic novel.

Your favorite quote?

“Fake it 'till you make it!”

Your work motto or mantra?

I remind myself to not compare myself to others, it can be very stressful and discouraging. Instead I try to learn from artist that I admire, and always be open to learn new techniques!

What do you do when your inner critic throws rocks at your head?

I say “talk to the hand, because the face don't want to hear it” then I go and play some video games. Works every time.

What do you do when you get Artist's Block?

I take a break! I walk away from my computer, turn off all notifications, and take a walk. It's amazing what a little exercise can do for your artist brain. Reading is also a huge help to overcome artist- block, it feeds the imagination. If all else fails I watch any Studio Ghibli film, they have never let me down!

Illustrator? or Author/Illustrator?

Author and illustrator all the way!

Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, YA, Chicklit, Nonfiction, Picture books, or all of the above?

Graphic novels, Middle Grade, YA, and picture books.

What do you do when you're not making art?

I love MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) and RPG (role playing games) games. It's like playing through a book! When I'm not making art I'm usually learning about art and watching speed painting videos. I also love watching movies, and hanging out with my kitty. Here is some fan art of Abathur, one of my favorite characters from Heroes of the Storm (one of my favorite games).

When do you work? Do you have a daily routine that you'd like to share with us?

I typicality work from 11am to 7pm. I wake up at 7am and spend the morning with my boyfriend and our kitty. We usually talk about our indie game, catch up on funny internet videos, and play video games! When he leaves for work, I begin my day. I start with a warm up doodle that I post on my social media, and continue working on projects. I take a break around 2:30pm, eat lunch and get back to work. At 4pm my kitty demands attention, so I play with her and giver her a treat. At 7pm my boyfriend comes home and we eat dinner. We love watching shows while we eat, right know we are making out way through Game or Thrones, all I can say is omg. Then we wind down by drinking tea, going for a walk, or playing more games.

Finally, where can see your art online and get in touch with you?

You can find my work at my website (sharonsordo.com), follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram

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