Monday, December 31, 2007

Artist Profile: Heather Campbell

There are not enough words to describe the art of Heather Campbell. In fact, we’re sure there are many others out there who feel the same way, except they’re probably more familiar with the name Makani. With one of the most viewed pages on deviantART, Heather’s art seems to take a life of its own, whether it’s a piece of Harry Potter fanart or an original character. If there was absolutely one thing we could chose to harp about, it’d definitely be the facial expressions and body language her works possess. Originally from Houston, Texas, the 21 year-old is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Dallas majoring in Art and Performance. After graduation, we’re sure she’ll potentially go on to do some great things in the industry.

Rococo Flow:
Could you give us a brief bio about yourself and anything else of interest?

Heather:: Well I grew up with my parents and little brother (age 18 now). No one else in my family ever did art for a living but they always supported me. I went to public school and nothing very extraordinary happened *laughs*. I always liked to draw but never thought about it as a career until around sophomore year of high school when I realized that you could draw for a living and be something other than a caricaturist in the mall. Hmm, I also have a doggie name Oreo at home. =)

Rococo Flow: Does he look like an Oreo? *laughs*

Heather:: She does! She's all black with a white tummy and paws.

Rococo Flow: So were you always interested in art in some form or another? Did anything in particular spark that interest?

Heather:: Horses. For whatever reason, I loved horses when I was little, so I wanted to learn how to draw them. That's really the sole reason I began drawing. I was probably about four or five.

Rococo Flow: That’s cute. Do you still enjoy drawing them now?

Heather:: Yes :-D

Rococo Flow: So who and what have been your influences as you've progressed through the years?

Heather:: Well, luckily I didn't like how horses were drawn usually when I was little, so I kind of played it by ear when I began drawing *laughs*. But for most everything else, Garfield and Disney were probably my earliest influences. Then of course, I went through an anime phase like most all preteen artists, then I went back to more Disney and European influenced work upon discovering people's art on the internet. Since then I've been getting influences from all over the place. There are so many great art sites out there. I tend to really enjoy French styles of comics, and some traditional artists I like are Norman Rockwell and Earl Oliver Hurst.

Rococo Flow: I enjoy some of the French artists out there too, I wish I could speak better French just so I could understand everything. Any in particular that comes to mind?

Heather:: Pierre Alary is the first guy I think of, his art makes me so happy. I wish I'd found him earlier! I probably first stumbled on his stuff two years ago.

Rococo Flow: I actually just came upon his stuff the other day. (Really late, huh?) Well how would you describe your own style of art?

Heather:: I don’t know...a huge influence when I first started to try and improve my art was Matt Rhodes, but yeah my style, It's basically just a melting pot of styles I like? I don't really know how else to describe it.

Rococo Flow: *laughs* That works, I'm a really big fan of Matt Rhodes and from him found other artists to enjoy so many years ago.

Heather:: Yes! I love link hopping from people's sites. I can spend an entire day doing that.

Rococo Flow: Yeah, I remember telling myself when I was younger that if I put as much time into drawing and practicing as I did looking at other people's art, I'd probably be world class or something, but seriously it's so addicting. There are way too many good an inspiring people out there.

Heather:: I know *_*

Rococo Flow: I'm sure you know though, lots of people feel the same way about your work, you have some really funny and interesting pictures. How do you get all those ideas?

Heather:: Hahaha, I don’t know. Usually I get one idea and that leads to another which leads to another…basically I’m just easily amused.

Rococo Flow: Can you describe your typical approach to creating a picture?

Heather:: It depends on what kind of picture. The silly ones usually start out as doodles which I end up deciding to expand on. Oh but I always draw with red pencil first. I got addicted to that after someone posted a tutorial on how to remove the red pencil and just ink with regular pencil in Photoshop. Anyway, I just scribble a pose thumbnail, then scribble an actual size pose, get angry because it looks nothing like that tiny thumbnail, then mess with the face and ignore the body, then add the body once and if I get the face looking like I want it too.

Rococo Flow: About how long do you think that takes you?

Heather:: It depends. Sometimes I can get a good fleshed out sketch done in about 5-20 minutes. Sometimes I can run over the same sketch for a couple hours and still be messing with it.

Rococo Flow: Is there a certain environment that you prefer drawing in?

Heather:: I think my room in my apartment at school is my favorite place to draw and I also really like to draw at my grandma's house while watching TV =). Oh, and also in class.

Rococo Flow: *laughs* Is there a reason why?

Heather:: No idea! I seem to draw better in my room at school and at Grandma’s for some inexplicable reason *haha*. My room home in Houston is kind of clutteres so it’s… annoying?

Rococo Flow:
So what programs do you typically use?

Heather:: Photoshop 7 and OpenCanvas 3. I'll dabble in Flash, Illustrator, and Painter every now and then but Photoshop and OpenCanvas are my favorites.

Rococo Flow: How about traditional media?

Heather:: I don't really do traditional media…I've never even enjoyed it really. I went through a colored pencil phase in high school but other than that, no, just no. I tried to use watercolors the other day and I felt like an idiot. I had to use gouache for my 2D design class and that was even more horrible.

Rococo Flow: *Haha* Well then it seems digital tools are you niche then, nothing wrong with that. Do you find it hard to push yourself when it comes to doing art?

: You mean as far as getting myself to draw? Or getting myself to try new things? Because I hardly ever have to really push myself just to draw and I actually welcome opportunities where I get to draw something different than what I normally do, except if it strays into like abstract art or something.

Rococo Flow: I think you pretty much answered it. I meant pushing the boundaries of your art basically, like trying to do something new at times.

Heather:: Yeah, it's just the thing is, I need someone telling me to do it, because by myself I'm not… creative enough or maybe not confident enough? I like doing new things though, as long as I have someone demanding it from me. =)

Rococo Flow: You mean like commissioners?

Heather:: Well, actually no, seeing as commissioners usually request things I draw anyway. There's a lot of things at school though that usually make me stray from my usual stuff. Last year we did one of those weekend-long "create a video game" things where I had to do some prop design and costume design as opposed to character stuff, and that was awesome.

Rococo Flow: I see, that’s cool. Well is there ever a time you just can't seem to draw anything? Like An art funk/block if you will. How do you get the ball rolling again?

Heather:: I know that feeling all too well. I usually go on many an hour internet art binge to get the rhythm back. I’ll also go look at my friend’s Loomis books. =)

Rococo Flow: Out of the work you've done, is there any that means the most to you?

Heather:: Not really, actually. I always say I'm more of an illustrator, not an artist. I put feeling into my drawings but I'm not really attached to any in particular.

Rococo Flow: An illustrator? What exactly are your future aspirations?

Heather:: I'd like to go into storyboarding and/or concept art. For anything really –movies, games, cartoons, whatever comes.

Rococo Flow: Are you trying to do that right after you graduate?

Heather:: Very luckily, one of my professors is opening his own studio, and this year I'm going to be doing assistant concept art for him, and then he said I have a position waiting for me after I graduate, if I'd like.

Rococo Flow: Oh wow, that's extremely fortunate.

Heather:: Yes, I'm way excited :-D. One of the perks of not going to an art school, I suppose.

Rococo Flow: You mean less competition?

Heather:: Yes. I wasn't even in this guy's class and he contacted me because he found my deviantART *laughs*

Rococo Flow: *Haha* Either way that's awesome. So many artists seem to struggling to find great jobs.

Heather:: Definitely!! Some that I’m friends with have been having difficulty, which really sucks because they’re some of the most talented that I know.

Rococo Flow:
So speaking of other artists, have you ever had the opportunity to work with others on a project?

Heather:: At school, yes. That weekend project I mentioned, and also on another project that never went anywhere, but it was still fun thinking up stuff for it.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any of your own personal projects?

Heather: The closest thing I've done to a personal project is HBP Project and Fanart100. I haven't headed up any animations or directed anything. Though I was head concept artist for both of the aforementioned projects but I still had to follow the project director’s guidelines, which is what I like. Like I said, I'm much better with following someone else's rules rather than making up my own.
Rococo Flow: What's the strangest comment you've ever read/heard in regards to your work?

Heather:: I think my favorite comment is when people say that they go to my site when they've had a bad day and it makes them smile and feel better.

Rococo Flow: =). Do you have any thoughts on the animation industry right now?

Heather:: Well, for one, I'm incredibly happy that 2D animation seems to be on the comeback. I hate to hear people talk about it like it's been replaced or by 3D. That's like saying digital art has replaced traditional. I also hope the industry takes a hint from Ratatouille and focuses more on making a good story rather than just getting kids to laugh just by making pop culture references.I also really excited to see what people who are a little older than me do with the industry. I think the new generation of artists are really going to mix things up.

Rococo Flow: Yeah... it may be a little morbid to say, but change can't quite occur until the older generation dies out, (or at least stops dominating the industry).

Heather:: Totally agree.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any interests besides drawing?

Heather:: Well I've been in choir in some form or another probably since I began drawing. I love to sing and jazz choir is my favorite. I also played tennis for six years and taught for a couple of summers at my old school district's summer camps. Nowadays I play racquetball, I couldn't take choir this semester!!! I'm so sad. Anyway, yeah the reason I never took art in grade school was because I was taking choir and tennis. =)

Rococo Flow: If you weren't an artist, is there anything else you could see yourself doing?

Heather:: I'd probably major in voice. I have no idea what I'd do with that though. Yeah, if I couldn’t' draw I'd be up a creek.

Rococo Flow: *Hahaha* Just curious, how'd the name Makani come about?

Heather:: Oh, *haha* I just needed a new screen name around sophomore year of high school. Makani came from Ahe Lau Makani, a song we were singing in choir at the time. It means breeze or something. Or actually I needed a name for my liger character I had created since joining My screen name before that was Vela which was from a video game. It became Makani once I moved to deviantART just because Vela was taken *laughs*.

Rococo Flow: If you could meet anyone dead or alive, real or fictional, who would it be and why?

Heather:: Oh gosh I have no idea. I hate these questions. The only thing I can think of is I'd just like to meet some of my online friends that live across the country.

Rococo Flow: What's your biggest fear?

Heather:: Well other than what most people are afraid of, like losing a family member or losing a limb or sense…I'm really afraid of wasps and snakes.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any sort of personal motto?

Heather:: If I did, it'd probably be something like "Life's too short to get upset about something for more than about an hour" or "[..] to take anything very seriously". In other words, something I've noticed about myself is that I am whatever the opposite of a drama queen is *laughs*.

Rococo Flow: *laughs* That’s good.

Rococo Flow: Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?

Heather:: Well there's the usual "Draw from life; draw all the time." type of generic thing that is annoyingly very true and helpful, and also just make sure you're drawing to entertain yourself, not just what you think other people will like seeing. If you can do both, then yay!

To see more work by Heather visit the following links:
– Main portfolio – deviantART page - Life drawing page – Livejournal (Sketch posts)

You can also contact Heather at hlc617[at]


Anonymous said...

Great interview! Really enjoyed learning more about one of my favorite artists :)

Anonymous said...

This totally made my day, and I just stumbled across it by accident! Serendipity, I'm tellin' ya...=)

Michael said...

Wow, i love her work. I found out about her thanks to the HP Quote Generator for Mac